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Iceland, land of fire and ice – a volcanic island – boasts some of the most beautiful landscapes and lights of our planet, as well as a unique fauna often easy to approach.
There are few places in Europe where you can get as close to bird colonies without disturbing them. Atlantic puffins are undoubtedly the stars of the Icelandic cliffs.
We have elaborated this bird watching tour for photographers and birds lovers who will always be delighted by the access to short distance breath-taking locations and a rhythm that corresponds both to the time necessary for photographic practice and for wildlife viewing.
This trip is divided in two, it is possible to do the entire itinerary or, if you prefer, to participate in the first or second half of the trip, by leaving or joining the group by plane, midway in Isafjördur.
On your arrival in Iceland, you follow the instructions previously given, to meet your guide and the group. Departure towards the West, after having bypassed the Whale Fjord, the road before reaching the Snæfellsnes peninsula, crosses a large marshy area and large strikes where you can observe countless birds: shorebirds, ducks, dives … If the sky is cloudless, you can see the famous Snæfellsjökull volcano, the volcano where the heroes of the Journey enter the center of Earth by Jules Verne. The North coast is cut out by numerous small fjords, some of which are home to small, colorful fishing ports where you can observe several species of gulls, including the Bourgmestre Gull. Night in the pretty little port of Stykkisholmur.
The shallow waters of the large bay of Breiðafjörður are brewed by strong tidal current. Scattered with thousands of islands and islets, rich in food the Breiðafjord overflows with life. White-tailed Eagle, Atlantic Puffins, Great Cormorant, Hoop Cormorant, Harbour Seal, Grey Seal. By boat, we reach the pretty little island of Flatey and its old preserved village. An ambulatory stroll through this little paradise, the sanctuary of Guillemots, little fierce birds nesting in the most incongruous places: old tractors, tires, barns …
From Breiðavík, by Hvallátur (where the whales give birth), we reach the cliff of Látrabjarg. 17 kms of cliffs and several millions of birds farther the landscape plunges into a pretty creek before ending on the coppery sand of the bay of Rauðasandur. We will wander along the first stretch of the huge Látrabjarg cliff, considered the largest seabird cliff in the northern hemisphere. Real housing crisis. Puffin monk, Petrel fulmars, Guillemots de Troïl and Brunnich, Penguin Torda, Herring gull, Black-legged Kittiwake along with the notorious raven. Under the lighthouse, we can observe a colony of large grey seals swimming in green water basins or resting on the reef kelp.
While Iceland has accustomed us to black sand, here, curiously, in the Far West of the largest volcanic island in the world, the sand is clear and the coastline takes on tropical nuances. A sand of shells ranging from the most perfect light grey as in Kolsvík to the dark orange as here at Rauðasandur (Red Sand). Here the only bathers in the area are grey seals and sea calf seals. Offshore to the south stands the great solitary snow-capped volcano of the Snæfellsjökull, which we have skirted three days before. This Fuji Yama of Iceland was an important landmark for the long boats of the Vikings who sailed between Greenland and Iceland.
The road crosses to the South some high desolated plateau of broken rocks, still partly snowy and then bypasses profound branched fjords dominated by impressive mountains of stratified basalt to cross again other passes. Visit of the famous Dynjandi waterfall, one of the most beautiful and graceful of the great falls of Iceland. In the evening, we reach the big fjord of Ísafjörður and the small fishing town of the same name with its old tarred wooden warehouses. Evening and dinner on your own.
We will visit a large colony of terns in the middle of the warehouses of the port of Bolungarvik, then, by a mountain road, we reach the bucolic and isolated valley of Skálavik which opens onto the ocean. In the river gather large groups of harlequin withers which are there for the last chance parade.
For participants of the 1st stay, flight from Ísafjörður to Reykjavik in the evening or the next morning. For participants of the 2nd stay, arrival in Ísafjörður in the evening or early flight the next morning.
We now leave Isafjördur. Large opened landscapes on the wide, as far as possible towards the bottom of the fjords. Bypassing many fjords all more beautiful than each other. With a large number of birds with a group of Harlequin tunas on the estuaries of the torrents. Maybe even a grey-headed eider? Again, several groups of seals bask on the rocks and kelp a few meters from the shore.
We now descend to the south by a high desert mineral plateau where we can see Northern Hareldes on small lakes, bordered by snowdrifts. We now reach from the bottom of the Breidafjörður, the the countryside of Reykhólar “the smoking hills” where hot water flows in abundance.
We are in the heart of a magnificent bird sanctuary on the marshes that border Breiðafjörður bay. There are many species of shorebirds, anatidae, but also and above all, numerous catamarin dives and Horned Grebes. It is not uncommon to see a short-eared owl or a bald eagle being scolded by the people of these swamps.
We now descend to the south through a beautiful countryside. Last observations on the Gilsfjörður before joining the circular route N °1 and a start of relative traffic. We will be in Reykjavik in the middle of the afternoon to soak up the small Icelandic capital which offers a relaxed and original atmosphere. You have a few hours to enjoy excellent coffee shops, beautiful bookstores, why not take the time to visit one or two museums and art galleries…