Deep North Episode 68: White Sahara

kerlingarfjöll highland base

Kerlingarfjöll is one of the gems of the Icelandic highland. Even in the summer, the rugged highland roads leading out to these mountains are difficult to navigate. And in the winter, it’s nearly inaccessible. We went on an exclusive winter expedition to this amazing area to learn more about it, and pick up some cross-country skiing as well.

Read the article here.

Watch our short documentary on Kerlingarfjöll here.

Most Fishing Permits for Summer Sold Out

salmon fishing iceland

Fishing permits for the majority of Iceland’s salmon rivers have already been sold out, according to Jón Helgi Björnsson, chairperson of the Federation of Icelandic River Owners (Landsamband Veiðifélaga).

In a statement to RÚV, Jón Helgi said that despite a difficult economic situation domestically and abroad, it’s been a very good year for fishing permits, with many of the best rivers already being sold out.

However, Jón Helgi noted that despite healthy sales of fishing permits in the last years, the popular outdoor sport has seen a slight decline recently. “The best fishing is probably in East Iceland,” Jón Helgi stated, “but there were a lot of small salmon there last year. I think we can expect a small improvement from last year, which was a slow year.”

Jón Helgi also noted that increasingly, people practice fishing for the outdoor experience and the socializing, and less so for the fish. Because of changing trends in fishing, large portions of the annual catch are released back into Icelandic rivers: “This practice is also necessary because these stocks are under a lot of pressure from the environment. It is necessary to treat these stocks responsibly, and in recent years, we have seen some results from our effots.”

It is possible to buy a fishing permit (Veiðikortið) for access to lake fishing in some 36 lakes throughout Iceland. For rivers that run through private land, most notably including Iceland’s salmon rivers, separate permits are required. The first salmon of the year are expected to begin appearing around May 20, with salmon fishing season then starting at the beginning of June.

Nursing Home Pedicab Program a Wheely Great Success

Residents of the Dalbær nursing home in the North Iceland village of Dalvík are on the move these days, thanks to the ‘Cycling at Any Age’ program that provides pedicab services and outings for residents. RÚV reports that Dalbær is among the nursing homes currently participating in the program, which is sponsored by the organization Hjólfærni, or ‘Cyclecraft,’ a local offshoot of the movement of the same name started by John Franklin in the UK.

Arnar Símonarson is one of the Bike Buddies who regularly provides pedicab services for elderly residents. “I come up here to Dalbær now and then, when I have the time and opportunity, when I’m at loose ends, and I ride this hot rod here, which has been dubbed the Cool Cab.”

Arnar says that the number of rides provided each time varies, as do the destinations. “People want to go to the bank and the store, we go to Olís [a petrol station] and get ice cream, sometimes we go to the coffee house and the residents have a beer or something else. And then sometimes, we go up to the cemetery.”

Arnar believes that a pedicab such as the one he pilots in Dalvík should be at every nursing home in the country. “It’s wonderful to go out with the residents and see them smiling and getting a little color in their cheeks.” He says that he’s seen a real change amongst the residents since the pedicab became a regular feature of their day-to-day lives. “We can see the happiness and vitality and people return a bit refreshed,” says Arnar.

The Dalbær residents agree. Kristján Loftur Jónsson is one of Arnar’s regular passengers and says that he enjoys getting out for some fresh air and that his favorite places to go are the coffee house or the corner store where he gets an ice cream when the weather’s nice.

Arnar concluded by saying that there’s no reason to fear getting old if you can remain engaged the world. “Growing old doesn’t mean having to disappear from life. Life is out there,” he remarked. “We just have to go out and grab it.”