Island Holidays
 

Iceland - A Winter Wonderland

Discover starkly beautiful landscapes and hardy winter wildlife

On our summer trips to Iceland one of the most frequently asked questions is, "What's it like here in winter?" Well, now's your chance to find out. Join us on our special natural history winter weekend in Iceland and experience for yourself the awe-inspiring beauty of this amazing country. Visiting the starkly beautiful landscapes of wintertime Iceland is a breathtaking and rewarding experience.

Dress warmly and travel with us on an adventure discovering the hardy wildlife that survives here during the winter. We'll find harlequin ducks surfing the waves along the coast and Barrow's Goldeneyes in the ice-free pools and rivers. There's lways the chance of Gyr Falcon and White-tailed Eagle and we'll encounter Ptarmigan and Snow Buntings on the fells and in the valleys. We'll doubtless find seals offshore and there's also the chance of seeing some whales, too.

Iceland's vigorous geology is evident all around us and we'll visit the Eyjafjallajökull volcano which caused such disruption to global travel in 2010. We'll learn about the eruptions associated with the spreading mid-Atlantic Ridge and see at first hand the evidence left by the volcanoes themselves. We'll see glaciers and ice-caps, explore rocky and sandy coasts, warm up in geothermal areas with erupting geysers and boiling hot springs and, during the hours of darkness, there's always the chance of seeing the aurora borealis or northern lights - one of life's unforgettable moments.

We base ourselves in southern Iceland in easy travelling distance of some of the best scenic and winter wildlife sites. We'll travel in a winterised 4x4 vehicle which allows us to reach some out-of-the-way places in the company of a specialist naturalist guide. We stay in a warm and comfortable guest house, enjoy delicious home-cooked meals and there'll be the chance to soak and relax in Iceland's famous geothermal baths as well.

Your Tour Leader

Andy JonesAndy Jones began his career in conservation and wildlife in the UK. He was a warden on Skomer Island, a ranger with the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the RSPB's senior investigations officer and a Wildlife Trust director. He studied geology and is an enthusiastic bird and whale-watcher. He has been leading wildlife holidays and field trips for 25 years.

Your Itinerary

Gullfoss in winter © Iceland NaturalistDay 1
Our lunch time flight from London Heathrow to Keflavik arrives in the mid afternoon giving us time to drive to our guest house in South Iceland, calling at some coastal locations on the way as we try to find Iceland Gulls and other wintering seabirds. Later, there's always the chance of seeing an auroral display.

Harlequin ducks © Iceland NaturalistDay 2
We visit Gullfoss, considered by many to be Iceland's finest waterfall. Nearby is the famed Geysir after which all geysers are named. A dynamic gusher erupts every few minutes to a height of 30 metres. We then explore Þingvellir National Park where for centuries the early parliament met in the open-air. The area is geologically fascinating with countless fissures and ravines bearing witness to the forces at work below the earth's surface. There may be some Barrow's Goldeneyes on nearby lakes and streams and we'll also be searching for White-tailed Eagle and Gyr Falcon. Again, if weather conditions allow, we'll hope to witness a display of the Northern Lights.

Eyjafjallajökull eruption - ash stage © Iceland NaturalistDay 3
Travelling over vast glacial outwash plains, we explore the area around the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. On the coast nearby we'll look for Harlequin Ducks which spend the winter at sea as well as for Glaucous and Iceland Gulls, Grey and Common Seals and anything else that's trying to find food during the Icelandic winter. The coastline is spectacular and we'll also learn about the vigorous geology of this part of Iceland as we visit a headland created by a submarine volcanic eruption in the past. And the evening will, of course, offer another opportunity to see the Aurora Borealis.

Whooper swans in flight © Iceland NaturalistDay 4
We travel to the Reykjanes peninsula for some more coastal birding looking out for Harlequin Ducks, Eider Ducks and possibly some Little Auks. We should also find some over-wintering Whooper Swans and we'll search for Ptarmigan which will be resplendent in their winter plumage. There's also the chanced to relax in the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa and, whilst bathing, look out of the flocks of Snow Buntings which frequent the area. (Please note that the cost of entry - about £30 - is not included as not everyone wishes to swim.)

Day 5
We cross the mid-Atlantic ridge to visit Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, to see the winter wildlife in the area. We expect good views of both Glaucous and Iceland Gulls and there's always the chance of divers offshore. We then drive down to Keflavik for our afternoon flight back to London.

Please note that this itinerary can be changed without notice at the sole discretion of Island Holidays or their representatives.

Specialist Holidays: Polar Regions, South Atlantic & Worldwide
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