INTRODUCTION: The dragon, drinking water from the sea:
Hvitserkur is a rock, rising like a monster from the sea at Vatnsnes Peninsula in Northern Iceland. The 15 meters high (approximately 50 feet tall) rock assumes the shape of “a dragon, drinking water from the sea”. The fact that the tip of the rock remains covered with bird droppings has conceived its unique name which literally means “white shirt”. It is only a few distance away from the Suluvelir farm. One has to be however careful while crawling up and down the steep steps of the rock in order to reach the other side of the cliff; a beach adorned by gravel and pebble. The government of Iceland has introduced a stamp in the name of this beautiful natural asset of the country in the year 1990; the stamp has the monetary value of 25 crowns. The government has also taken serious initiatives in strengthening the foundation of the rock by concretizing it.
GEOGRAPHIC ORIGIN: Metamorphosis of a volcanic neck into a monstrous rock
The Hvitserkur rock is an igneous rock, naturally sculpted by sea erosion which gave it the shape of a solidified monster. Once a volcanic neck, the “dinosaur rock” (as coined by some photographers) was shaped as the craters were pulverized by the Atlantic Ocean, leaving only the Hvitserkur behind. The base of the Hvitserkur was however, concreted some years ago which assures its firmness, overlooking the sea with the pride of tolerance of years.
THE INTERESTING MYTH: Giant turned into rock by light
According to the passed on stories, it is believed that the Hvitserkur was a huge giant who lived happily with his family in Mount Baejar in Strandir in Westfjords and had a son called Bardur. One day he woke up from a sound sleep, annoyed and disturbed, due to some loud noise. He expected the noise would stop within sometime but it did not happen; it increased rather. The giant was irritated by the unalarmed calamity as it hindered the comfort of his community and that too in the winter season which is believed to be the resting season of the monsters. Feeling the alarming gravity he decided to put an end to the turmoil some way or the other. Being confirmed that the origin of the sound was a huge bell, hanging on the other side of the Hunafloi (the famous Huna beach), he decided to demolish the very source and one fine night he set up his mission with Bardur. Day was approaching and they took the aid of large steps to reach the spot before dawn. But unfortunately, as the sun rose and Hvitserkur turned his head towards sunlight, he got transformed into stone. Sensing what was happening, the giant hurled his hammer towards the bell as a last try to his endeavor, which was located in a church at Thingeyrar, but in vain. The hammer can still be seen at the eastern part of Thingeyrarsand.
FLORA AND FAUNA: Abode to birds and seals
The rock is abode to many bird species especially the shag. To the south of the rock is the Signoarstaoir Lake where seals are often spotted. The base of the Hvitserkur, the Vatsnes peninsula is inhabitated by various wildlife species. It is one of the largest seal colonies of Iceland where seals have been under protection for a long time. A spectacular view of seals resting in sunlight can be witnessed on the opposite side of the peninsula. Besides birds and seals, jelly-fishes of various colours can also be seen there.
HOW TO GO THERE:
Having reached the airport, the Hvitserkur rock is accessible through roadways. The airports that are close to the sight are:
1) Isafjordur (IFJ): Isafjordur, Iceland (45.1 kms)
2) Patreksfjordur (PFJ): Patreksfjordur, Iceland (113.8 kms)
3) Siglufjordhur (SIJ): Siglufjordhur, Iceland (161.4 kms)4) Akureyri (AEY): Akureyri, Iceland (214.5 kms).
The exact location of the Hvitserkur rock is at the place called Hunafjorour, which is a part of a large bay, the Huna Bay (also called the Seal bay). There are probably two ways of reaching the magnificent natural artifact. The first one being a gravel road from the Hvammstangi town which is 197 kms from Reykjavík; and the second one, by taking the road no.:711, which joins a huge ring road circumscribing the island Hringvegur. The road no.:711, is very narrow and remains slippery owing to snowfall and rain. So avoiding such periods is permissible. Tides, both high and low, are worth watching.
As stated earlier, the best time to reach out to the famous rock is summer. Rains and snowfalls should be completely avoided. The added advantage of visiting during such a time is getting to watch the tides dancing in rhythms as they strike the huge rock. During a low tide, one can take a stroll and reach out to the southern part of the rock which is the country’s one of the largest seal breeding ground.
PLACES OF ACCOMODATION:
Various hotels and resorts are available. The Osar is a famous farmhouse turned hostel. It is thirty minutes (25 kms) to the north of the main ring road (i.e. highway no.:1).A few distance away from the hotel is the Huna bay. The hostel is 228 kms (2hrs 45 mins) from the famous city of Reykjavik. The opening times of the hostel are as follows:
1) Daily/weekly: 08:00hrs-22:00 hrs
2) Over the year: 1st of May – 1st of October
As it is said, to see is to believe; this natural gigantic rock is worth a watch!