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Iceland Photography Tour - Birds of the Arctic

Iceland, Europe

Greg Downing
Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson
Alan Murphy
Photography Tour with Greg Downing, Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson, and Alan Murphy
10 people maximum
12 days
During a new Iceland photography tour, enjoy an itinerary mainly focused on Arctic bird photography including 5 nights on a tiny Island in the Arctic Circle!

Trip Highlights

  • Main focus on Arctic bird photography with a great variety of nesting Arctic species and the opportunity to see other vagrants.
  • Spend 5 nights on a tiny Island in the Arctic Circle - just teeming with puffins and other seabirds and timed for bringing in fish to young.
  • Photograph the best of Iceland’s birds with incredible landscapes at every turn.
  • Days are scheduled to avoid crowds - Island is exclusive.
  • Flexible daily schedule to visit amazing locations during the best light. 
  • The best leaders in the industry by far - it can make or break a trip.

Dates

Main Trip, 10 people maximum

  • July 11–22, 2020 (SOLD OUT)
  • July 10–21, 2021 (SOLD OUT)
  • July 11–22, 2022 (10 openings)

Cost Per Person (USD)

Price from $9,995
Full details

Want to talk first?

Call 1-888-667-0559 or 410-239-8025, Monday–Friday, 8:30 AM–4:30 PM Eastern Time. You can also send an email to editors@naturescapes.net.

Atlantic Puffin © Greg Downing

Featuring a wealth and wide variety of incredible photography opportunities, Northern Iceland is one of the best places on Earth to photograph cliff-dwelling birds such as colorful and comedic Atlantic puffins, razorbills, murres, fulmars, and many other seabirds.

Staying on a tiny island we will be right on the Arctic Circle, spending time searching for and photographing nesting Arctic species and vagrants. As your group works west and northward from your starting point in Reykjavík, you will marvel at the beautiful sights at every turn. Our Iceland photography tour shows you the best of Iceland’s birds with other marvelous sights along the way.

Join Us for a Remarkable Itinerary You Won’t Find Elsewhere!

Featuring 5 Nights on a tiny Island in the Arctic Circle

While the highlight of this trip is surely the tiny island at the Arctic Circle Island, we will spend 2 -1/2 days working our way west and then north so you won’t feel as though you are missing out on anything or rushing. We'll base for two nights on Snæfellsnes peninsula and explore this renowned area before we start our journey north, first to Akureyri, and then on to the Island - the highlight of the trip.

It would be a lot of effort to travel all that way and not spend any time photographing some of the birds and locations of Iceland’s mainland - that makes it well-rounded trip with the primary focus on birds. As far as other puffin colonies there is little point in visiting them as none hold a candle to where we are going - not even close.

An Unforgettable Iceland Photography Tour Arranged by Light

During this time of year in Iceland it never gets truly dark, thus we will have 21–22 hours of daylight which means many potential hours of sweet light! Your days will be scheduled to avoid crowds and take advantage of amazing locations during the best light, often shooting late into the night after dinner or even before breakfast. Then we will balance our down time with the remaining hours of daylight.  

Travel with the Best Leaders to Iceland’s Top Bird Locations

An Iceland photography tour focused on birds wouldn’t be complete without world-class leaders by your side helping you locate species. This exciting adventure will be led by renowned bird photographer Alan Murphy, NatureScapes Founder and photographer Greg Downing, and lifelong Iceland resident, ornithologist, and photographer Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson. There is not a better team to lead you and make the most of the photographic opportunities in the area.

“(The) Island was wonderful. To have all those birds just seconds from the front door was a big plus.”

Dawn O.

Razorbill © Alan Murphy

Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival in Iceland - Reykjavík

On the first day of your Iceland photography tour, you will arrive at Keflavík International Airport and transfer to your hotel in Reykjavík. After getting settled in you may opt for a self-guided city tour or a visit to the harbor, which is just steps away from our base hotel. Vehicle rentals are available close by or you may opt to take a taxi to the center city and back. It’s very safe to walk around Reykjavík, exploring at your leisure with or without a camera and small lens. Since your flights are overnight you may experience a little jet lag so you’re also welcome to just relax at the hotel and energize yourself for the next day’s journey northward.

In the early evening you and your group will attend a meet-and-greet to get to know one another and discuss the plans for the following morning’s departure. Afterward, you will enjoy a group dinner to close the evening.

Note: Those arriving early may opt for an early arrival with the hotel or pay for an extra night. We can also facilitate any early arrival simply for the cost of the additional hotel night. Please inquire with us regarding specific early arrival recommendations.

Overnight at hotel in Reykjavík. (D)

Day 2-3
Reykjavík and Snæfellsnes Peninsula

After breakfast you will depart Reykjavík in our private comfortable vehicle and drive northwest enjoying the sights and arriving at our hotel in time for lunch. Depending on what we find we may have lunch en-route.

Words cannot express the mystery, wonder and almost surreal energy of the Snæfellsnes peninsula! The major landmark is the Snæfellsjökull glacier in Snæfellsjökull National Park, which is renowned for its mystical powers and has captured the imagination of people all over the world, ever since Jules Verne wrote “The Journey to the Centre of the Earth” in 1871.

The area features extraordinary moorland, meadows, marshland, rivers, streams and small ponds along with beautiful rock formations and black sand beaches. Snæfellsnes Peninsula is without any doubt one of the best places in Iceland for Nature and Wildlife Watching during summer. On this tour we can expect to see a great variety of birds such as Harlequin Duck, Atlantic Puffin, Brünnich’s Guillemot, Black-legged Kittiwake, Arctic Tern and White­tailed Eagle.

Overnight at hotel on Snæfellsnes peninsula. (B,L,D)

Black-tailed Godwit © Alan Murphy

Day 4
Snæfellsnes Peninsula - Akureyri

After some photography on our own in the early morning we have breakfast at the hotel and then begin our drive from our hotel on Snæfellsnes to Akureyri, “the capital of the North”. On the way we will visit some spectacular sites, included the Vatnsnes peninsula, with some interesting harbor seal sites and the unique Hvítserkur rock formation. We hope to have a chance to photograph birds like Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit, Horned Grebe, Red-throated Loon and more. We'll plan to have lunch enroute and arrive at our hotel for a late dinner. After dinner we can explore the area or rest up for our ferry ride to the island the following morning.

We will spend the night at a hotel near Akureyri. (B,L,D)

Day 5
Akureyri - to Island at the Arctic Circle

You will leave Akureyri early to catch the 9:00 AM ferry to the Island, to which we will arrive around noon. After getting settled in we will begin to explore the island and all it has to offer - you will be awe inspired and excited that we can slow down the pace and fully explore this island and take advantage of every opportunity. In previous years we have done everything from in-your-face puffin and razorbill flight shots to set ups (a-la-Alan Murphy) for nesting snow bunting, meadow pipit, gloden-plover, arctic terns, phalarope and more!

For five nights we will have free rein of this amazing location, which will be ample time to get great shots of puffins and basically all the other species that inhabit this unique island along the Arctic Circle. While we will have transport for you and your gear between the main photography locations on the southern and northern tip of the island, if you do not want to walk, there are puffins literally right outside our front door 24-7. You will truly be in awe with the opportunities here!

Overnight at a private guesthouse on Island where we base for the next 5 nights.

Atlantic Puffin Flying in Iceland © Greg Downing

Days 6-9
Island in the Arctic Circle

The Island we will be visiting is a small location bisected by the Arctic Circle, and is the finest location in Iceland for photographing Atlantic puffins and other seabirds, especially in flight as they soar near their nesting cliffs.

There are a lot of puffins in the island (approx 480,000) and at times the grass slopes are filled with them. It’s also a great place to photograph razorbill, arctic terns, breeding common and thick-billed murre, black guillemot, black-legged kittiwake, and northern fulmar. You can also expect to see and photograph, red-necked phalarope, ringed and European golden plover, purple sandpiper, and snow bunting among others.

The Island also offers unique opportunities for landscape photography, featuring structural basalt columns and rock formations.

Overnight at a private guesthouse on Island. (B,L,D)

Day 10
Remote Island and Akureyri

After a full morning of photography on our remote island getting our last shot, we will leave the Island in the afternoon and overnight in the town of Akureyri arriving in time for a late dinner.

Overnight at a hotel in Akureyri. (B,L,D)

Day 11
Drive Back to Reykjavík

On the final day of your Iceland photography tour, you will make the drive back to Reykjavík while stopping at some nice photo opportunities en route. You will enjoy a farewell dinner with your group and stay overnight in Reykjavík.

Overnight at hotel in Reykjavík. (D)

Day 12
Departure from Iceland

This morning you will enjoy breakfast at your hotel before transferring for your flight home. If you would like, you may opt to spend extra days in Iceland on your own or set up a custom extension.

Depart hotel in Reykjavík.

Atlantic Puffin © Alan Murphy

Includes

  • Lodging throughout 11 nights (double occupancy)
  • All transfers to and from airport and hotels
  • Professional driver/photo/nature guide
  • Private transportation throughout
  • Transport to and from the Island
  • Entrance fees for all described activities
  • Taxes on all services listed above
  • All meals throughout, starting with meet-and-greet dinner on the first day and ending with farewell dinner.

Does Not Include

  • Airfare to/from Keflavík International Airport (KEF)
  • Alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, and snacks between scheduled meals, etc.
  • Gratuities

Atlantic Puffin © Alan Murphy

Dates and Cost

Dates

Main Trip, 10 people maximum

  • July 11–22, 2020 (SOLD OUT)
  • July 10–21, 2021 (SOLD OUT)
  • July 11–22, 2022 (10 openings)

Cost Per Person (USD)

  • Trip: $9,995 (2020); $10,495 (2021); $10,995 (2022)
  • Deposit: $1,000
  • Single Supplement: $1,475

Trip Details

Dates

Main Trip, 10 people maximum

  • July 11–22, 2020 (SOLD OUT)
  • July 10–21, 2021 (SOLD OUT)
  • July 11–22, 2022 (10 openings)

Cost Per Person (USD)

  • Trip: $9,995 (2020); $10,495 (2021); $10,995 (2022)
  • Deposit: $1,000
  • Single Supplement: $1,475

Single Supplements

Single supplement fees reflect our actual cost and are subject to availability. If you're a single traveler and we're unable to place you with a roommate, we will need to place you in a single room and charge a single supplement.


Travel Ratings

Moderate Activity - some walking is involved but nothing strenuous. On the island we have a vehicle to get to the farther areas but much of what we are looking for is right outside our door or within walking distance.
Intermediate Photographers
Based on Land, Ferry to/from Island
Non-Photographers: Yes, Limited, $500 Discount

Map

Leaders and Guides

Greg Downing

Greg has been traveling the world teaching professional and amateur photographers for more than 15 years hosting his instructional workshops and...Continue reading

Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson

Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson, is a leading authority on the birds of Iceland and one of the country’s most experienced bird photographers. He has written...Continue reading

Alan Murphy

Alan Murphy, an award winning photographer, grew up in England and is an avid birder. Upon immigrating to the States Alan picked up a camera and...Continue reading

Photo Gallery

Iceland photography tour © Greg Downing
Atlantic puffin © Greg Downing
Atlantic puffin and flowers © Greg Downing
Common redshank © Greg Downing
Arctic tern, Iceland © Greg Downing
Atlantic puffin flying © Greg Downing
Atlantic puffin in flight © Greg Downing
Oystercatcher © Greg Downing
Atlantic puffin portrait © Greg Downing
Skua flying © Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson
Razorbill group © Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson
Northern fulmar © Greg Downing
Razorbill perched © Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson
Pink-footed goose © Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson
Atlantic puffin flying with fish © Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson
Red-phalarope © Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson
Semi-palmated plover © Greg Downing
Atlantic puffin closeup © Greg Downing
Atlantic puffin on cliff © Greg Downing
Icelandic horse pair © Greg Downing
Icelandic horses in Iceland © Greg Downing
Horned grebe pair © Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson
Arctic Tern Iceland ©Greg Downing

Registration

To register for this trip fill out and submit your registration form. A non-refundable deposit (above) is required to reserve your spot. See the About Our Trips page for cancellation/refund policies and other important information.

Want to talk first?

Call 1-888-667-0559 or 410-239-8025, Monday–Friday, 8:30 AM–4:30 PM Eastern Time. You can also send an email to editors@naturescapes.net.

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