Itinerary for 5 nights - Bird trail 2a Day 1 | Arrival and guided tour to Eider colony
Arrival to accommodation. In the evening you enjoy a guided tour on foot through the Eider colony at Farm Björg and view the birdlife by the sea cliffs. It is possible to get very close to the Eiders and experience how they benefit from the protection supplied by the farmer. You will also view the vivid birdlife by the sea cliffs and can expect to see up to 50-60 different species of e.g. seabirds, ducks and waders in the area.
The guided tour takes around 3 hours.Day 2 | Mývatn – a paradise for birdwatchers, day tour by bus
This day tour offers birdwatching with a guide in the Lake Mývatn area. The tour starts from Sigurgeir´s Bird Museum. Lake Mývatn is a paradise for birdwatchers. This centre of duck-production in Europe is simply loaded with birds, including many Barrow’s Goldeneyes and Harlequin Ducks. A typical list of birds will include 50-60 species and most likely include Gyr Falcon. On arrival to the Mývatn area from Reykjadalur you will first visit Lake Másvatn, where there is a good chance to see Great Northern Divers. You then continue to the river Laxá which runs from Lake Mývatn. This uppermost part of the river is the prime habitat for Harlequin duck and Barrow´s Goldeneye in Iceland and may include Goosander. The circle tour around Mývatn starts with a stop at Álftavogur to search the flocks of ducks for scarcer visitors. Near Skútustaðir are small lakes in extensive wetlands, which offer a chance to see many species of ducks, including Long-tailed Duck and the occasional Common Pochard. You continue around the lake and make a few stops to view birds as well as the picturesque scenery.
The woodland park at Höfði is great for walking, with views towards unusual lava formations in the lake. Here are plenty of Common Redpoll, Redwing and Winter Wren, as well as ducks on the lake. From here to Reykjahlíð village, you will look for dabbling ducks including Gadwall and the scarce Northern Shoveler. There are often large flocks of Tufted Duck, Greater Scaup and Eurasian Wigeon at Neslandavík Bay. This is also a good area for Common Scoter and scarce vagrants such as American Wigeon, Common Pochard and Ring-necked Duck. Sigurgeir´s Bird Museum is conveniently located by the bay, in one of the best birdwatching spots by Lake Mývatn. The last main stop on the tour is called Álar, also rich in birdlife and likely to reveal scarcer species.
The tour takes around 8 hours, lunch pack included. Day 3 | Free morning, afternoon boat trip from Húsavík
The morning is free for you to spend at leisure. We suggest visiting the charming harbour town of Húsavík with its Whale Museum and Culture House which displays several interesting exhibitions (entrance fee not included). It is also worthwhile to visit Húsavík church.
In the afternoon you take a boat trip from Húsavík harbour with whale-watching company Gentle Giants to Flatey Island. On the way to Flatey Island, one can experience the beautiful surroundings of Skjálfandi Bay and perhaps even spot some whales. Flatey Island was inhabited from the 11th century but has been deserted since 1967 and is a natural haven for birdlife. The island offers more than 30 different species of birds during the breeding season.
The boat tour takes 4-5 hours in total, including the excursion on Flatey Island.Day 4 | Free day around Lake Mývatn
You can spend the day birdwatching in the birdhides of Sigurgeir´s Bird Museum close to Lake Mývatn. The area around Lake Mývatn probably has the highest number of duck species in the world. During your stay in the area, you will have an open pass to the museum, which exhibits around 180 bird species and offers three birdhides for birdwatching. Full day‘s use of the birdhides and meal included. Please note that reservations are needed for the birdhides. Sigurgeir´s Bird Museum also has a restaurant offering traditional refreshments such as rye bread baked in a hot spring with smoked trout and flat bread with smoked lamb. At 14:00 birders meet at the museum to share the day‘s experiences.
| Photo: Jóhann Óli Hilmarssson|
Other ideas for the day include visiting the many natural attractions around Lake Mývatn such as the spectacular lava fields at Dimmuborgir, or doing the 2-3-hour hike up Mt. Hverfjall, a gigantic tephra crater approximately one kilometre in diameter and 140 metres deep, formed around 2,500 years ago. Other interesting places are e.g. the volcanic Krafla area where the latest eruption occured in 1975 – 1984, the geothermal area of Námaskarð with its hot mud pools and fumaroles and the Mývatn Nature Baths for a relaxing soak in geothermal waters. It is also an afternoon well spent to drive to Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe, or the Ásbyrgi Canyon.Day 5 | Tjörnes – Kelduhverfi day tour
Guided tour by bus along Tjörnes peninsula to lakes, rivers and wetland areas in the Kelduhverfi area. You will stop at a number of places to look at a variety of birds. The first stop is Bakkakrókur, near Húsavík, which is often teeming with waders like Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, Red Knot and Ruddy Turnstone, particulary in spring (May through early June). The tour continues along Tjörnes peninsula with possible stops along the way. Tjörnes is known for its particularly dense population of Rock Ptarmigan, although unfortunately they can be hard to find after mid-June due to their secretive behaviour. You will look for Great Cormorant on skerries and view a puffin colony. On the way to Kelduhverfi a stop is made at the lagoon Lón, where interesting birds can often be found, mostly waders, gulls and ducks. King Eider is sometimes found with the Common Eider and Barrow‘s Goldeneye and the scarcer Common Goldeneye is often found here as well. The next main stop is at the unique Lake Víkingavatn (lake of Vikings). It is one of the richest wetlands found in Iceland, loaded with grebes and ducks. Red-necked Phalaropes can also be found here. The tour continues to a rich wetland, Skjálftavatn, a large lake formed by a series of earthquakes in 1976. The last main stop on the tour is Ásbyrgi, a deep gorge formed by massive flooding of the glacier river Jökulsá á Fjöllum after the last ice age. A hike in the Icelandic birch woodland in Ásbyrgi will hopefully result in viewings of Icelandic Winter Wrens and Redpolls, surrounded by stunning scenery.
The tour takes around 8 hours, lunch pack included. Day 6 | Húsavík boat trip – puffin colony
You will be driven to Húsavík town and from Húsavík harbour you will enjoy a one-hour RHIB (rigid hulled inflatable boat) trip to Lundey Island (Puffin Island) to see one of the largest puffin colonies in Iceland. The island is only 4,5 nautical miles from Húsavík harbour and the Gentle Giant´s fast RHIB will take you there in only a few minutes. Puffin Island reaches 34 m above sea level, and is around 200 m long and 100 m wide. During the breeding season around 300,000 puffins can be found here, close to the rich feeding grounds in the surrounding sea.