Birding Trail of Northeast Iceland
5 days with a local guide.
The rich bird life of northeast Iceland, distributed over widely varying habitats, displays a diversity seldom surpassed and accessible areas for observing species such as Barrow’s Goldeneye, Harlequin Duck, Gyr Falcon, Rock Ptarmigan, the Great Northern Gannet and the Brunnichs Guillemot. The marshes are important as a habitat for many Icelandic bird species, and several of these marshes, famed for their rich bird life, are situated in northeast Iceland.
This tour combines 4 sub-areas that constitute the highlights of birding in Iceland.
Day 1 – Arrival and meeting with the guide.
Today you get to Húsavík, either by a domestic flight from Reykjavík or by land. In the afternoon, the local guide meets you for a briefing regarding the next days.
Check in at the hotel in Húsavík, where you are going to spend 3 nights.
Day 2 – Húsavík area and Flatey
Today we focus on the bay of Skjálfandaflói as well as the community of Húsavík and adjacent rural areas. We begin the tour at 8:00a.m. in the morning by exploring the harbour and surroundings, as well as the lower regions of the nearby Laxá river and selected ponds and lakes, such as Kaldbakstjarnir, an area frequented i.a. by bird species such as the Great Northern Diver. We then take a few hours break that allows you to enjoy what Húsavík has to offer, beside birds (restaurants, museums, the garden and the church).
We meet again at 4:00p.m. for the second part of the program, which features a boat tour in the bay of Skjálfandi, including a visit to Flatey island, renowned for its rich variety of bird species. Thus, it is normally the home of more than 30 different bird species during the nesting season. Species such as the Arctic Tern and Puffin are there in vast numbers. They can often be observed at close quarters. Hence, this is a unique opportunity to experience the marvels of nature. In our travels, we might even be treated to the delight of whale watching. In Flatey we enjoy a light dinner meal before getting back to land at 9:00p.m. or a bit later.
Second overnight in Húsavík.
Day 3 – Lake Mývatn Area
The Lake Mývatn region is renowned for its incredibly rich birdlife, which makes it a paradise for birdwatchers. At the lake, we will find the home to more species of nesting ducks than you would find at any other single area on earth. The Mývatn area boasts e.g. of almost all the ducks of the species known as Barrow’s Goldeneye, found in any European country, as well as substantial numbers of the Harlequin Duck species. This area is also well known for its large populations of Gyr Falcons. This day features a drive around the lake, stops at selected locations, but the tour also includes other points of interest, such as the river Laxá, ponds and marshes as well as intriguing lava fields and formations.
Iceland is located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the Mývatn region is situated in its zone of volcanic and geothermal activity, which demonstrates this fact very well. Bird watching in this area thus focuses not only on observing a variety of bird species, learning about biology, and experiencing local culture, but it also shows a delightful variety of scenery, landscape and nature. The Mývatn day tour of birdwatching is designed for people with various levels of interest in bird life. Weather permitting, photographic opportunities are abundant, both in terms of bird life and geology.
Third overnight in Húsavík.
Day 4 – Langanes
Today we head straight to Langanes, the narrow peninsula, situated between Thistilfjörður and Bakkaflói, shaped like a bird with a large head. Langanes has quite a rich birdlife and very good shorebased observation points for watching bird species such as Guillemots (incl. Brünnichs Guillemot), Razorbills, Puffins and Gannets. This area is about as wild as coastal Iceland gets, perfect for exploration off the beaten track. A rough road leads to Fontur, the tip of the peninsula, and along the sides of the road there are the nesting grounds of Purple Sandpipers and Snow Buntings.
Out on the peninsula, the cliffs are steep, but fairly accessible and at times in such proximity that the birds are in clear viewing range. The curved shoreline at this point offers a good opportunity for photographers to hone their skills. A trip to the outlying peninsula is an unforgettable adventure, where you drive by remains of ancient farms. Below Skoruvík cliffs, there is the rock column known as Stóri (i.e. big) Karl (Charles), which constitutes one of Iceland’s most accessible Gannet colonies. During the so-called puffin season (till mid August), this is a grand site for Puffin observation.
Check in at the hotel in Raufarhöfn and overnight.
Day 5 – Melrakkaslétta and Kelduhverfi
Today we focus on three districts in northeast Iceland: Melrakkaslétta, Kelduhverfi and Tjörnes. This day offers variety in terms of bird life, scenery and local topography. In the course of the day, we shall be stopping at various sites of interest in order to explore them further and/or we will be using them as stepping stones to explore other more distant and less accessible but noteworthy sites. Öxarfjörður and Melrakkaslétta have some of the most densely populated sites of Red-throated Divers in Iceland. Moving to Kelduhverfi, we will focus on ponds and lakes, until we arrive at the marvellous spot Ásbyrgi, with its woodland. There we will attempt to spot an Icelandic Wren as well as some of the other woodland species.
Finally, the Tjörnes peninsula provides us with the opportunity to observe a variety of bird species, found along the shoreline and coastal cliffs. This peninsula is in effect known to be one of the best areas in Iceland for observation of the Ptarmigan.
The program ends in the afternoon in Húsavík.
Depending on the plan of the rest of your journey, options might be spending one more night in Húsavík or flying back to Reykjavík in the late afternoon.
Availability: in May and June
Departure point: Travel North office or any other location in Húsavík. Pick up available in Húsavík Airport, in Akureyri or at other locations, upon request.
Tour duration: 5 days.
Included: transportation and experienced, English-speaking, birdwatching guide for the duration of the tour (days 2-5), briefing with the guide (day 1), fuel, binoculars, 4 nights in hotel with breakfast (double room accommodation), 1 light dinner (day 2), 3 lunch packages (days 3-5).
Optional (for extra cost): single room option, domestic return flight Reykjavík-Húsavík or Reykjavík-Akureyri, pick up and drop off in Húsavík Airport or Akureyri, extra night in Húsavík on day 5.
Not included: international flights, drinks, anything else not specified as “Included”.
Please note: minimum number of participant is 2, maximum number of participant is 14.
Bookings: for scheduled departures, please use the form below. For other departures and special requests, please contact us.