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ICELAND

ICELAND
Europe

Gyr Falcon

With its volcanoes, lava fields, glaciers and waterfalls, plus abundant bird life, there are few places on earth quite like Iceland

Europe

We return north for this mid-summer holiday to the land of geysers, glaciers, volcanoes and a sun that doesn’t really set at this time of year. During this ten-day programme we will be exploring three top areas for birds including the Snaefellsnes peninsula, Þingvellir and Lake Myvàtn. Red-throated and Great Northern Divers in vibrant summer plumage, Red-necked Phalarope, Harlequin Duck, Whooper Swan, Slavonian Grebe, Snow Bunting, Gyr Falcon and a host of breeding waders and seabirds are just a few of the spectacles on offer. There will also be an opportunity to do a boat trip from our third base near Husavik, regarded as the whale-watching capital of Europe.


Contact The Ultimate Travel Company 0207 386 4682 to make a reservation.


2019
5 - 15 July
11 days (10 nights)
£TBC
£TBC
Full
Waiting list
Places
Places

Economy class flights, accommodation with private facilities, full board (breakfast, lunch, dinner), transport by private minibuses, tips and services of Wild Insights leaders.

Travel insurance and items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry and phone calls.

This circular tour follows the bird-rich coast around to Snaefellsness, then onwards to Myvàtn before returning to our last destination, close to Þingvellir.Iceland.jpg
Day 1:         London / Keflavik
Depart Manchester or Heathrow on a lunchtime flight, arriving in Keflavik mid afternoon. Transfer to the Icelandair Hotel where two nights are spent. The hotel is very conveniently situated in Keflavik, minutes from the airport so on arrival we can make the most of the remainder of the day and explore the Rekjanes Peninsula.

Day 2:          Keflavik
Full day to explore the local area. We should see our first breeding waders such as Golden Plover, Snipe, Redshank, Whimbrel and Dunlin. Snow Buntings and Ptarmigan can also be found in this area and there is a large Arctic Tern colony nearby. Sea-watching at Gardur can be very rewarding with skuas, auks, shearwaters and Gannets all passing by.

Day 3:        Hellnar
With a journey ahead of us we will set off after breakfast, stopping at some pools near Njardvik where we might see our first dainty spinning Red-necked Phalaropes after which we bypass Rekjavik and take the road north towards Snaefellsness via the Myrar peninsula. The journey itself is fascinating with stunning scenery and roadside pools with Red-throated and Great Northern Divers.The occasional. Arctic Skuas can be found breeding on rough grassland and are unpopular with the breeding Arctic Terns. Our route takes us along the south of the Snaefellsness Peninsula where we may find Slavonian Grebes in summer plumage. Bizarre volcanic rock formations add further fascination to this route. Check-in to the idyllically positioned Hotel Hellnar where three nights are spent. Overlooking the sea on one side and the glacier on the other, this is one of the most attractive spots on the peninsula. The hotel is ideal – simple yet very comfortable with good food.

Days 4 - 5:        Hellnar
The whole of the next two days will be spent around this stunning area where we will explore sea-bird colonies as well as wild volcanic landscapes where Golden Plover, Whimbrel and Purple Sandpipers can be found breeding. The dormant Snaefellsnes volcano and glacier presents an awesome backdrop as we visit various sites around the peninsula including the auk colony near Hellissander where we will look for Brunnich’s Guillemots amongst the masses of Common Guillemots (with bridled race amongst them) and Razorbills. We may encounter our first gaudiliy-plumaged Harlequin Duck as the first drakes arrive on the sea from their breeding grounds. Out to sea we might sight the occasional Orca Whale and seals are relatively common. Under the glacier we will also look out for one of Icelands few land mammals, the Arctic Fox. There are numerous gulls to be checked in the area including the impressive Glaucous Gulls which breed on the massive cliffs on the way to Stykkishólmur and, very occasionally, Iceland Gull. We will also take a delightful boat trip around the islands of the Breiðafjorður, a bird paradise with multitudes of Puffins, Kittiwakes, Fulmars and a good chance of a close-up White-tailed Eagle. The trip is also rich in history, folklore and some of the most extraordinary geology in the country.

Days 6 - 8:    Myvàtn
Today we head east across to Myvàtn, one of the most famous birdwatching sites in Iceland. Our journey takes us along the north coastline of Iceland, through vast mountain passes and around endless fjords. We will make stops along the way to scan but aim to get to our destination in good time. Check-in to the Hotel Reynihlid where three nights are spent.  The leading hotel in the region, it offers a combination of very comfortable accommodation and excellent food, all within sight of the lake.
The following two days will be spent exploring the whole area which is well-known for large numbers of breeding wildfowl including Long-tailed Duck and Common Scoter while the rivers hold Barrow’s Goldeneye and Harlequin Duck, Iceland being the only European country where these two species can be found. Slavonian Grebes and both divers also breed on the lake. One of Iceland’s emblematic species is the mighty Gyr Falcon which hunts duck and Ptarmigan and with patience we have a reasonable chance of a sighting in this area. Weather permitting we will also take a second boat trip from Husavik which gives us the best chance anywhere to see whales.

Days 9 - 10:        Selfoss
We travel back south today to Þingvallavatyn, an enormous lake west of Reykjavik. Check-in to the Hotel Grimsborgir, where two nights are spent. Surrounded by unspoilt country, just 40 minutes from Reykjavik and very close to the outstanding Þingvellir National Park, Hotel Grimsborgir combines high-standard accommodation with perfect position.
This area is steeped in history and since 930 this was for centuries the site of the Alþing, the world’s oldest parliament. It is also of immense geological interest with a massive fissure marking the meeting of the tectonic plates of Europe and America. It is also one of the most spectacularly beautiful areas and from the southern end of the lake flows the river Sog flows where we will be looking out for Harlequin Ducks. The north end of the lake is frequented by Red-throated and Great Northern Divers in their summer magnificence while surrounding moorland is home to the Icelandic race of Black-tailed Godwit in its finest livery, Redwing and Ptarmigan. Merlins are also present in this area and at this time they are very active feeding medium-sized young. During our time here we will also visit Laugarvatn, the waterfall at Gullfoss and the hot water spout at Geysir all of which are excellent birdwatching sites. 

Day 11:         Keflavik / London
Morning flight from Keflavik back to London Heathrow or Manchester Airport.

Wild Insights overseas tours are part of a wider programme of Ultimate Travel Company holidays worldwide, and their terms and conditions apply. The Ultimate Travel Company  is fully licensed and bonded with ABTA and IATA and all their overseas tours are fully protected by their Civil Aviation Authority  ATOL Licence, number 5111.

Louisa Thompson 0207 386 4682
www.theultimatetravelcompany.co.uk