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00 354 847 4133 contact@alkemia.is

Birding in the West Fjords 2024

June 19, 2024
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Min Age : 15
Max People : 10
Tour Details

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.

Highlights of this trip
  • Remarquable flora: Situated at 66 ° North, on the borders of the Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean, halfway between Europe and America, at the crossroads of the main East-Western and North-Southern migratory routes, Iceland is undoubtedly the paradise of winged fauna. Species on both continents as well as Arctic species cohabit. Some cliffs are experiencing a real housing crisis, while heaths and meadows are invaded by countless shoreline birds.
  • Midnight Sun: the night has totally disappeared, the day is permanent. Twilight and dawn blend together all the pink, blue and coral of their collection. The green colors are still here and blend in the colors of the tundra and meadows where the young lambs and foals run freely. The peek tourist season has not yet really begun and the circular road still breathes freedom.
  • West fjords: Our journey takes us on the great North-Western peninsula to majestic fjords and impressive mountains. In this region we can observe the white-tailed eagle whose kingdom is here. Látrabjarg is considered to be the longest bird cliff in the world. Many grey seals lounge on sandy beaches. It is also the region where the most common eiders occur in the North. The Reykhólar marshes are a small paradise for ornithologists and the islands of the Breiðafjord are a sanctuary where men and birds are perfectly combined.
  • Amazing landscapes and wild places: During this trip you will have the opportunity to discover an isolated region and a lot of wilderness sites, without any human construction for several tens of kilometers around, which provides a trip away from mass tourism. You can admire varied and contrasting landscapes, between mountains of rhyolite and powerful waterfalls, immense beaches of golden or black sand and impressive cliffs …
Our commitments:
  • A selection of partners engaged in more responsible tourism.
  • An English speaking guide who knows Iceland and will make every minute of this trip worth it
  • We are contributing to the reforestation of Iceland with the planting of around 1 tree for 4 people.
  • The guarantee of working with a local agency.


  • 9 nights accommodation in guesthouse twin or double room with mix of share and private bathroom. Single supplement 500 €.
  • French speaking guide-driver ornithology specialist from arrival in Reykjavik in D1 to Reykjavik in D10
  • Transport by private minibus from D1 to D10 and boat transfers
  • Full board from lunch on D1 until lunch on D10, except 2 dinners in Ísafjörður to be paid on site.

Not included

  • International flight from 200 € departing from Europe
  • Meals in Reykjavik and Isafjördur and all drinks such as soda and alcohol
  • Personal cancellation and repatriation insurance
  • Transfers to/from international airport

D1: Beginning of the adventure

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.

D2:In the bay of Breidafjorður

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 …

D3:Birds colony and cliffs of Látrabjarg

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.

D4: Amazing sandy beach of Rauðasandur

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.

D5: On the way to Ísafjörður

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.

D6: Transition between the both trips

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. 

D7: Along the fjords of Ísafjarðardjúp

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.


D8:Around Breidafjorður

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.

D9:The swampy areas around Reykhólar

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.

D10:The last wild landscape before reaching Reykjavik

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…


Good to know

  • Small group between 6 to 12 participants.
  • Recommended photography gears: A 75-200mm lens allows taking nice pictures. Take a wide-angle lens, a 200-400 lens, a tripod or monopod, and your ornitholidays will be perfect. For numeric cameras, you can charge your batteries in most accommodations, but you should take spare batteries anyway. Think also to protect your gear (lens, cameras and films…) against humidity with plastic bags and waterproof bags. In Iceland, the firsts hours of the morning and evening are the best moments to enjoy wonderful light and to take beautiful pictures, although day time do not lack of good opportunities. Keep in mind that light is very changing in Iceland and, if a picture by blue sky is always perfect, by bad weather it can turn completely spectacular.
  • Hikes: moderate level. Walks between 1 to 3 hours that will be adapted depending on the weather conditions and the level of the group.
  • Itinerary and safety: the day-by-day program is given as an indication and can be subject to change. Changes can be imposed for safety reasons, due to natural phenomenons: volcanism, bad weather… Your guide knows the terrain perfectly and remains the only person in charge of taking the necessary decisions, when it comes to interpreting the whims of powerful nature on this volcanic land and in these high latitudes.
  • Guide: your guide is attentive to the Icelandic nature and need of the group, so that everyone’s can experience this journey to meet the Icelandic magic nature.
  • Vehicle: comfortable 4×4 minibus equipped for Icelandic roads. We use a private bus only chartered for the group.
  • Accommodation: in guesthouse in double or twin room with made-up bed and mix of share and private bathroom.
  • Participation: Travelers are expected to give a little help and assist the guide in preparing meals and dishes at the accommodation.
  • Food: mainly based on vegetarian cuisine, based on tasty and quality organic products. Hearty “Scandinavian” breakfast, picnic for lunches with mixed salads, cookies and hot drinks. In the evening, a hearty and convivial dinner, based on specialties and local products including sometimes meat and fish: lake trout, lamb’s leg, vegetables, potatoes, salad and excellent dairy products including blueberries skyr. If you have a specific diet or food allergy, please clearly indicate this when registering. For the conviviality of the group, but nothing compulsory, we recommend everyone’s to bring a small specialty of their region (cookies, cheese, wine, etc.).
  • Extension of your stay: Contact us. You may not be coming back to Iceland anytime soon, and extending your trip with a self-drive tour is the best option for getting the most of your stay. Do decide to extend your stay in advance, as it can be too late, once you already have your flights tickets. 

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