Iceland May 10th - 20th, 2018
For the landscape photographer, the Icelandic landscape is an endless source of inspiration with its many waterfalls, glaciers, glacial lagoons, fjords, volcanic features, and black sand beaches. For the wildlife photographer, there is an impressive mix of unusual birds and marine mammals. There are few places where charismatic birds such as the Atlantic Puffin are as accessible as in Iceland. The island’s birdlife is an interesting mix of Nearctic and Palearctic birds, many of which are mainly High-Arctic dwelling species.
We have scheduled these dates as in May the days are getting long with sunrise at around 4 am and sunset at just before 11 pm. There are, therefore, extended hours of soft golden light. Birds are active in May and the landscape is emerging from its winter hibernation with a grand display of nature.
We have engaged Daniel Bergman, one of Iceland’s best known nature photographer and guide (http://www.danielbergmann.com/). A native of Iceland, with 15 years of experience, Daniel knows the best photographic opportunities in a country rich with them. Daniel uses a custom-made, very comfortable, 4-wheeled vehicle designed to access the premier photo sites.
On this 11-day tour, we’ll concentrate on the western and southern parts of Iceland, as far east as the iconic Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon on the south coast. We’ll photograph the landscape, birds and sea mammals (whales). As always in Iceland, the weather will play a major role in the final itinerary. The general plan will be kept flexible to make the most of the weather and light conditions.
Day 1 – May 10 This is the designated arrival day to Iceland. After arrival to the Keflavik international airport and transfer to Reykjavik City, the day is free to explore the charismatic town, which is the capital of Iceland. The night will be spent at the Skuggi Hotel in downtown Reykjavik.
Day 2 – May 11 We’ll depart the city in the morning and head north to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, which features some of the most stunning coastal landscape in Iceland, mostly located just outside the Snaefellsjokull National Park on the southwestern tip of the peninsula. The area also has good seabird cliffs and a thriving Arctic Tern colony just outside the hotel where we stay at Arnarstapi.
Day 3 – May 12 After our stay at Snaefellsnes, we travel further north. First on the Baldur ferry that takes us across the bay of Breidafjordur and then we drive out to the Latrabjarg bird cliff, the westernmost point in Europe. This 14 km long (and over 400 m high) cliff is one of the most important breeding site for seabirds in Iceland. It has a small colony of Puffins, which breed in the top soil of the most accessible part of the cliff. These Puffins are probably some of the tamest in the world and the topography of the area makes it ideal for evening photography. We will stay for two nights at the nearby Breidavik hotel, which gives us repeated opportunities with the Puffins and other seabirds at Latrabjarg; Razorbills, Thick-billed and Common Murres, Kittiwakes, Fulmars and more.
Day 4 – May 13 An extra day at Breidavik. Apart from the Latrabjarg bird cliff there is a wetland below our hotel that has breeding Whooper Swans, Red-throated Divers, Red-necked Phalaropes and a number of different duck species. The area is also very good for photographing breeding shorebirds such as Ringed Plover, Redshank, Dunlin, Snipe and passerines such as Snow Bunting. The nearby hills may have displaying Rock Ptarmigan.
Day 5 – May 14 After a morning of photography, we return across the bay with the afternoon ferry and overnight in the town of Stykkisholmur at the northern side of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Once there we will either be at sunset or sunrise at the famed Kirkjufell mountain in Grundarfjordur.
Day 6 – May 15 Today we travel down to the south coast, with a possible detour to the Hraunfossar waterfalls. Once in the south our goal is to visit the Floi bird reserve on the estuary of Olfusa river. This reserve has a good number of breeding Red-throated divers along with handsome shorebirds, such as the Black-tailed Godwit, Golden Plover and Whimbrel. We will overnight at a nearby hotel.
Day 7 – May 16 Now our excursion begins the eastward journey to the wonderful world of ice and glaciers. We will travel all the way east to the Vatnajokull glacier, Europe’s largest icecap. Once there we will have three days to explore the many outlet glaciers and glacial lagoons and will also be on the lookout for good bird opportunities. We will stay for 3 nights at the Smyrlabjorg hotel.
Day 8 – May 17 In the Vatnajokull region. Some of the birds breeding on the tundra and moraine landscape include Parasitic Jaeger, Great Skua and Northern Wheater, to name a few. By the Jokulsarlon there is also a large Arctic Tern colony and the terns, along with gulls, can be photographed fishing in the short river channel of Jokulsa that flows out of the lagoon.
Day 9 – May 18 Still in the Vatnajokull region. We will make repeated visits to the glacial lagoon and also its nearby black volcanic beach, where icebergs are pushed up by the tide and sit there and melt. We will also venture a bit further east, out to the Stokksnes peninsula, and photograph the iconic Vestrahorn mountain range.
Day 10 – May 19 As our time in the east comes to an end, we travel back west and overnight in the town of Vik on the south coast. The area is famous for it’s beaches and coastal rock formations and we’ll photograph at both sides of the Reynisfjall mountain in Reynisfjara.
Day 11 – May 20 From our last hotel at Vik, we have a 3-hour journey to the Keflavik airport for flights out of Iceland. We aim to be there at 2 pm for outbound flights, which gives us the morning to stop at some of the waterfalls of the Eyjafjoll region, such as Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss.
PRICE: $7200 Includes Hotel, All Transportation and Fees in Iceland, Guide fees. Does not include meals (A note about the price: Iceland has become a very popular travel destination. It’s rapidly expanding economy and increasing value of its currency is making Iceland one of the most expensive destinations in Europe. Costs of future Iceland travel will be significantly higher).