Bird Paradise on Mykines

Location MapNormally when advertisers for wildlife tours talk about “guarantees” and “close sightings” I immediately ignore them. Just like I did when I read that on Mykines you can see puffins just two metres away from you. It is a lie, in fact, you can see puffins less than two metres away from you. They shouldn’t grossly understate things like that, it’s just wrong!

Getting there and where I stayed

Well there’s pretty much only one way to get there and that’s on the ferry. I hitchhiked from Gásadalur to Sørvagur, though you can just as easily get the #300 bus from Tórshavn the same morning.

I booked the independent Sørvagur to Mykines ferry online the night before for 60DKK, but I was booking the afternoon ferry which is far less in demand. Day trippers book the morning boat out and afternoon return and this can book out a few days in advance. If there is demand they will put on a second set of ferries, but at almost double the price for 100DKK.

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Leaving Tindhólmur behind and seeing the cliffs of Mykines for the first time

Honestly though, taking the afternoon ferry and staying a night is by far the better option. You get more time, its quieter and prices on the island were surprisingly cheap at least for food and camping from Kristianshús. To pitch it costs just 50DKK.

I booked my return ferry on the island after feeling it out. I still managed to get a spot on the afternoon return ferry the night before.

Bird paradise

Arriving just after 5pm, I paid my fees and went to set up my tent on the hill behind the village.

As I was setting up my tent, a strange old lady approached me and asked if I was alone. I was a little confused, but I soon realised this crazy old American bat was trying to keep everyone away from “her” patch. All the other tents were set up on the opposite side of the river.

I assured her I wouldn’t make any noise. She claimed to be working with the birds and a very light sleeper, though I never once saw her studying them or even more than 50m from her tent. To be honest, sure there should be standard courtesies about noise in any shared space, but you’re a jackass if you think you can waltz into a public campsite, live like it’s your own private space at home and expect everyone to follow your rules. You pay for your pitch, but that doesn’t mean you own the place. Why is it always the Americans?

So I pretty much just ignored her babbling. She claimed people had vandalised her tent, but if anyone bothered to, it was probably because she kept invading their personal space to lecture them. As soon as anyone approached the campsite, she race over to intercept them. Nutcase!

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Not a bad place to camp except for the resident American nutcase

So I pitched my tent as quietly as I could and went exploring. The village is small, but much bigger than I expected and with permanent residents. Once again people live here, it’s not just about tourism.

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The village of Mykines and the grass topped church

Many people were repainting their houses and there was even a guy on the roofs whipper snipping the grass. Quite funny to see, but when you grow turf on all the houses then I guess it has to be done.

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Always so many little village details

I started walking up the hill towards the bird cliffs. Within 100m, I spotted a puffin about 20m away. Excited, I took a bunch of photos unsure whether I’d be lucky enough to see one so close again!

Then I walked a little further and realised I was even closer to another puffin! I took some more snaps, but shortly afterwards, I deleted them all. Why? Because you get much, much closer and there are many, many more puffins. Just wow!

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Puffins live in huge numbers along the cliffs like you wouldn't imagine

First there were dozens along the cliff edge, then hundreds and later I’d say thousands. They nest right beneath the walking track in some spots and they fly everywhere overhead. You’ll be lucky if you don’t get pooped on.

I can't see the puffins. Where are they?

Countless times I’d be crouched to take a photo and a puffin would fly in right next to me or pop out from a burrow beneath my feet. It was an incredible experience that hopefully won’t be destroyed by mass tourism. Since I’d come on the late ferry, I was the only person in sight and the golden afternoon light was just magical.

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They sometimes let you get surprisingly close

Walking towards the lighthouse on Mykineshólmur, I kind of got bored of seeing puffins. Just kidding, I just stopped spamming so many photos to avoid having a million that looked the same.

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Feeding time. Though they just seem to sit there and show off rather than eat.

The cliffs between the islands are filled with gulls. Not really exotic enough for my liking. Mykineshólmur was largely just a long walk amongst the grazing sheep. I just wanted to get to the lighthouse and see if there was anything special though. I always have FOMO (fear of missing out).

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Crossing to Mykineshólmur

The part before the bridge is definitely the best puffin viewing, but at the far western end of Mykineshólmur you get to see the Gannet’s nesting grounds. The only place in the Faroes where they breed.

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A rather large chick and the Gannet colony with puffins nesting nearby

Sadly, today was the best sunset I’d seen in the Faroes. I sat there wondering if it looked so good from Gásadalur. I convinced myself it didn’t so that I could psychologically cope, and then I really enjoyed the sunset on Mykines. It was stellar, and I was working like crazy to get individual shots of the birds and of the sunset.

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Sunset fell on the cliffs where the puffins nested

The longer I waited, the better the sunset got. It was pretty incredible looking towards the lighthouse all the way up towards 11pm.

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Sunset at Mykines

The next day, we were bathed in glorious sunshine again. Everyone at the campsite was out of their tents enjoying the rays, except for the crazy lady, she just yelled at everyone who spoke at an audible level… Ahhh the serenity!

But seriously, when she shut her trap it was pretty sweet. I just laid on my mattress reading my book. I couldn’t see how I could take better photos in the strong sun and in any case two boat loads of tourists arrived and were headed up the mountain. The birds probably wouldn’t act so photogenic amongst the crowd.

So in the end, after booking the late ferry, I didn’t really use the time to explore the island. You can hike to the highest peak, but there was really no need.

A forecast storm started approaching in the afternoon, so I packed up early and headed off.

Hopefully the crazy lady didn’t get too badly battered because the winds were very strong where I ended up camping in Central Vágar.

To see the parent blog for my trip to the Faroe Islands click here.

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