A tiny island at the entrance to Skagafjörður in north Iceland, uninhabited Drangey is an ancient, flat-topped volcanic rock that rises sharply from the sea. Cliffs of up to 180 m (590 ft) soar out of the steely waters providing a nesting site for puffins, razorbills, gannets and kittiwakes. This half-day excursion takes you out to the island for a steep climb to its summit. Along the way, hear about Icelandic sagas and how the island became a hideout for bandits, get some incredible views of the fjord, and see some of the massive colonies of seabirds that make the rocky islet their home.
Your tour begins in Sauðárkrókur marina, where you’ll meet your skipper, guide and the small group you’ll be joining. Set off by boat and as you approach the island, its sheer cliffs and impressive height become even more apparent.
As you get close to the island, you’ll start to see a whirl of activity surrounding the rock as birds swoop and dive in the vicinity. At first glance, the island looks completely inaccessible, but as the boat rounds the corner, you’ll see a small, makeshift jetty and a steep path winding up the rock. Disembark here with your guide, while the captain remains with the boat.
Here, the air is full of the screeches and wails of the thousands of birds which sit in every pocket of the cliffs and rocks and swirl overhead. The path leads over the rocks and onto more sure footing, onto a narrow path which leads steeply upwards to a flat platform overlooking a different bay.
From here the path clings to the cliff edge then ascends a metal ladder, to gain access to the rolling meadow above. This feels like an entirely new island, vastly different from the sheer cliffs below. Here, you’ll have the opportunity for tea or coffee in a small hut built by your guide’s family, while he regales you with local tales from the Icelandic sagas before leading you on a walk to the island’s best viewpoints.
Grettir the Strong, an outlaw and hero of the sagas, lived on the island for three years with his brother Illugi until their enemies finally caught up with them. You’ll see several spots associated with the saga, hear about how the island has been used by farmers and egg collectors, and learn about the migratory patterns of the birds who nest here. The island provides nesting space for thousands of seabirds including puffins, guillemots, gannets, kittiwakes, fulmar, shearwaters and gyrfalcons.
After time to fully explore the island, make the steep descent back down to the boat and return to the mainland.
The tour takes about four hours and with the steep ascents and descents is only suitable with those with a reasonable level of fitness. We don’t recommend it if you have a fear of heights as the cliffs plummet into the sea, and at times, there is only a rope or ladder to hold on to.