We continue our 'Meet the team' blog series and introduce staff member and country girl Hrund from Gauksmýri farm in Northwest Iceland who shares her favourite places in Iceland with us!
Who is Hrund?
I am a 27 year old country girl who moved to the city to study 7 years ago. I studied tourism, marketing and international business at the University of Iceland. I grew up on a horse farm in the Northwest of Iceland called Gauksmýri, which is in fact also a member of Hey Iceland. My parents still live there and run that business. I often miss the countryside even though I like Reykjavík a lot. I miss my horses, dogs and the wilderness, because it is hard to combine these things in the city. My other interests are travelling, art, music and basketball, but I just retired from playing this spring after 17 years. I have worked at Icelandic Farm Holidays for 1 1/2 years in the sales department.
You are from the Húnaþing vestra region in Northwest Iceland. What are in your mind the must-see places in that area?
Vatnsnes peninsula is something I recommend for everyone to see; it is a hidden gem in the outskirts, you need to turn off the ring road to get there. Vatnsnes peninsula is one of the biggest seal colonies in Iceland and these lovely creatures can easily be spotted there. Hvítserkur is another gem located in Vatnsnes, a 15m (49ft) high sea stack standing very close to the shore. Borgarvirki, a natural fortress close to Hvítserkur, is also a must-go-to place for a fantastic view. I would also recommend Kolugljúfur, a beautiful waterfall only a few minutes from the main road. My mother told me fairy tales about Kolugljúfur when I was a child, about a troll that lived there. Her name was Kola and she lived in the waterfall before the sun turned her into stone!
Photos: Above: Hvítserkur. Below: From a concert at Borgarvirki fortress
Illugastaðir is also located in my home district. Readers of the historical novel Burial Rites by Hannah Kent may be familiar with Illugastaðir. That‘s where the murder of Natan Ketilsson took place, that Agnes Magnúsdóttir was found guilty of. This murder led to the last execution in Iceland. The execution took place at Þrístapar in Vatnsdalur, only a 30 minute drive from my home farm Gauksmýri. There is a road stop for travellers at Illugastaðir. You can walk to Natan‘s workshop and to the sea shore for seal and bird watching. It is open for travellers to visit except from 1 May to 20 of June, when the Eider bird nests.
What is your favourite place in all of Iceland and why?
I would say Skógar near the Eyjafjöll mountains in South Iceland. My father is from there and I spent many summers there as a child with my grandparents. For me it was a paradise with a completely different landscape from what I was used to at home. Skógafoss waterfall at Skógar is in my opinion one of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls. Another personal favourite is Gauksmýrartjörn, a pond located on the other side of the main road from Gauksmýri farm. To go there on horseback on a bright summer’s night is fantastic. It is so peaceful to just sit beside your horse and admire the mountains, the pond and its colourful birdlife.
Photo: One of Iceland's most beautiful waterfalls, Skógafoss in South Iceland.
What are your top tips for a first-time traveller to Iceland?
Dress in layers. The weather in Iceland is very unpredictable and can change every hour. You can see almost all sorts of weather in one day. And go swimming! There are swimming pools all over the country, in almost every town and all are geothermal. Admission is low and it is a very good way to meet the locals.
What do you do when you are on holiday?
Like probably most people I enjoy to escape the everyday life as much as I can when I am on holiday. I never spend my holidays in the city. I often go home to my parents or visit friends and family who live all around the island. I also love to go abroad whenever I can, my last two trips were to Tenerife with my better half and to New York with friends.
Last time I took a day off from work, I went to the horse round-up in Víðidalur valley near my home farm Gauksmýri. It is one of my favourite events of the year, almost more fun than Christmas! It‘s always on the first weekend in October. On Friday all the farmers in Víðidalur herd their horses together from the mountain Víðidalsfjall. The number of horses is around one thousand, making this one of Iceland‘s largest horse round-ups. This year I rode my father‘s mare, Carmen. I met many old friends, sang Icelandic folk songs and drank a few snaps. On Saturday the horse round-up takes place, when the farmers sort out who owns which horse. It’s great to watch and experience the horse round-up, listen to farmers sing, enjoy homemade pastries and coffee from the sales booths or even buy a horse! In the evening everyone who is older than 16 years; sons, daughters, mums, dads and even grandparents go to the horse round-up dance at the local community centre.
When you‘re not in the office, where might we find you?
Probably in downtown Reykjavík at my favourite café Kaffibrennslan enjoying a cup of coffee with friends.
Want to explore some of Hrund's favourite places and things to do? Check out Gauksmýri, the Horse Round-Up tour or our many other horse riding tours.
Make sure to check back to meet a new staff member soon!
Meet the team: Nína from the Westfjords
Complete Hey Iceland staff list and contact information.