Cruise ships in Djúpivogur

Iceland

I first came to Djúpivogur about ten years ago and since then it has been one of my favorite village in Iceland, because it’s a quiet and interesting place. Few years ago, while having a dinner at Hótel Framtíð, I had a chat about traveling with Bryndís Reynisdóttir, who was a servant there. When I came back this summer, she had finished here BS in Business Administration and was now a marketing manager for tourism and culture in the village. She was very busy taking care of guests from a big cruise ship, but the day after I interviewed her about tourism there, as can be seen in the video.

Djúpivogur (djupivogur.is) is a small village on the south east coast of Iceland, with 456 inhabitants (22 December 2008).

The main industry today is fishing, e.g. for cod, haddock and catfish, but the importance of tourism has been increasing, including cruise ships. There are many possibilities for tourists depending on their interests.

Langabúð, made of logs, is the oldest building in Djúpivogur and was constructed as a warehouse and store in 1840. It is now the cultural center and a museum about Ríkharður Jónsson, the sculptor, as well as a gallery for local crafts and a coffee shop.

When cruise ships arrive, an inflatable house is set up and used as a market for Icelandic handcraft.

For those interested in birds there is a special Birds Project (birds.is) which has the aim to introduce the huge amount of species in the area and make it one of the best bird watching area in Iceland. Birds can be seen in their natural environment without difficulties such as long walks or extra travelling.

There are several species of ducks such as scaup, tufted duck, shoveler and pintail. Also some less common species, for instance red-throated diver and black-tailed godwit. Lapwing, grey heron and turnstone can be seen especially in spring and autumn. Mammals such as seals and reindeer can also be seen there frequently.

In the summertime there are boat trips to Papey island, which lasts about four hours and a guided tour is included. The island is about 2 km2 .

Papey is historically very important. The name comes from the word: “Papar” (from Latin papa, via Old Irish, meaning “father” or “pope”). The man leading the first family to settle in Iceland, Ingólfur Árnarson, and his foster brother, spent their first winter in this country close to Djúpivogur. When some of the women climbed a mountain there, they noticed smoke from the island Papey, so a group sailed there and discovered Irish monks. In De mensura orbis terrae (On the Measurement of the Earth), the Irish scribe Dicuil wrote in 825 that he had spoken to hermits who had been in Iceland in 795, called Thule by them, where it was so light at the summer solstice that lice could be picked out of clothes at midnight. The early 12th century Book of the Icelanders by Ari fróði states that when the Norwegians moved here such monks departed from Iceland and even left various Irish articles behind, not wanting to live among heathens. The Book of the Settlement of Iceland mentions specifically that such monks abandoned their belongings on Papey. Now only various place names and such stories remind us of their presence there. Irish monks were therefore the first residents in Iceland, but since they did not raise families and start a nation; they have not been called settlers.

On the island is also Iceland’s oldest and smallest wooden church.

The island Papey has been been identified as an Important Bird Areas (IBA) according to BirdLife International (birdlife.org), which is a global Partnership of conservation organizations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. As in most other islands, seabirds are very common in Papey and an estimate of 30.000 pairs of puffins comes there for breeding.

When cruise ships arrive, Djúpivogur cooperate with the village Höfn, including with transportation of tourist with busses to Vatnajökull, which is the largest glacier mass in Europe. It covers an area of roughly 8100 km2, and is about 1000 meter thick where it is thickest. Jökulsárlón is a glacier lagoon and tourists can sail with a boat there. Many commercials and movies, like Lara Croft’s “Tomb Raider” and two James Bond films “Die Another Day” and “A View to a Kill” have been shot at the lagoon and “Batman Begins” close by.

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