Birding Trail of North-East Iceland

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Birding Trail of North-East Iceland

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Bird watching

Tour ID: IN 40

Duration: 11 days /10 nights

Bird watching in Iceland: escape the crowds and step into the beautiful nature that North Iceland has to offer.
Small group size!


  • Akureyri, the capital of the north
  • Nature of North and East Iceland
  • Birding trail of Northeast Iceland
  • Whales an birds in Skjálfandaflói bay
  • Goðafoss waterfall
  • Lake Mývatn with abundance of bird life
  • Ásbyrgi canyon
  • Melrakaslétta plain
  • Langanes peninsula
  • Borgarfjörður eystra and puffins
  • Hrisey Island
  • Nature reserve of Svarfaðardalur
  • Eyjafjörður

Departures: May / June 2017

Group size: min 8 - max 16

Price per person: from (will be available shortly)

Included in the price:

  • Return transfers Keflavík airport-Reykjavík airport
  • Flights Reykjavík-Akureyri-Reykjavík, including airport taxes
  • 10 nights accommodation in dbl/twin rooms, including breakfast
  • Coach transportation as per itinerary
  • Local English speaking guide as per itinerary
  • Whale watching classic boat tour from Husavik
  • Ferry transfers to/from Hrisey Island
  • Admission fee to bird museum (Myvatn)

Day 1:     
Arrival to Keflavík Airport Iceland.
Mini bus transfer to Reykjavík airport (approx 50 min.) and flight from domestic airport in Reykjavík city to Akureyri (45 min. flight time) In Akureyri the local guide (bird expert) meets the group upon arrival at the airport.
Short sightseeing tour of Akureyri and transfer to a local hotel.
Hotel accommodation in Akureyri.
Free evening to enjoy Akureyri and the surrounding area.

Day 2:     
Breakfast at the hotel.
In the morning drive to Husavík, scenic fishing town where we join the classic 3-hour whale watching tour in Skjáflandaflói bay. For those who prefer it there is a possibility for upgrade to a 2-hour RIB whale watching tour (surcharge) - the speed of the RIB boats enables us to get quickly and as close as possible to the whales and dolphins, and due to the size of the RIB boats (max. 12) all passengers will get a good view. 
Instead of whale watching it is also possible to spend time bird watching on land in Husavik area.
After lunch break in the town we continue around Tjörnes peninsula with possible stops for bird watching and drive as far as Ásbyrgi. The enormous horse-shoe shaped canyon with lush vegetation is also filled with bird life. It is particularly good spot for seeing vagrant passerines.
Drive around Melrakaslétta with stops to observe birds on the way arond the peninsula towards Raufarhöfn.
Hotel/guesthouse accommodation in Raufarhöfn area.

Day 3:
Breakfast at the hotel.
We drive to Langanes peninsula which holds the third largest gannet (Morus bassanus) nesting place at Stórkarl. We spend the day sightseeing and birdwatching. The day ends in Þórshöfn area on the Langanes peninsula.
Hotel accommodation in Þórshöfn.

Day 4:
Breakfast at the hotel.
We drive the coastal road across mountain passes and along the coast of Bakkaflói, Vopnafjörður and to Héraðsflói. We drive to Húsey, another bird watching paradise – breeding grounds for more then 30 different bird species. Red-throated loon (Gavia stellata) breeds in the area in great numbers; here you can find largest colony of the parasitic jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus); great skua (Catharacta skua) can be usually seen in the area.  
From Husey we continue to Borgarfjörður Eystri – the land of elves and birds! Here you have a good opportunity to see puffins close up and observe other sea birds species.
Guesthouse/Hotel accommodation in Borgarfjörður/Húsey area.

Day 5:
Breakfast at the hotel.
In the morning we can spend some more time in the area for nature observation and bird watching before we head back towards the west. Driving through Jökuldalur valley offers views of numerous waterfalls dropping down the slopes from the top of the hills. As we cross the Möðrudalsöræfi lava desert there are manificent  views of highlands mountains , amongst them Mt Herðubreið, known as the queen of the Icelandic mountains.
Time permitting we can make a detour to Europe‘s most power full waterfall – Dettifoss before we continue towards Lake Mývatn. The day  ends with an optional visit and soak in Nature Baths geothermal lagoon.
Hotel accommodation in Myvatn area.

Day 6:        
Breakfast at the hotel.
We spend the day visiting the major sights of interest and bird watching around Lake Myvatn. The abundance of nesting birds makes Lake Myvatn particularly interesting place to observe the many species of ducks and possibly  Gyr Falcons as they are often found hunting around the lake. Over 25 different types of ducks and many other species of birds can be seen in this area and we will have opportunity for bird watching at several locations. We also visit Sigurgeir‘s Bird museum at the farm of Ytri Neslönd which is situated conveniently at one of the best bird watching locations by the lake.
Hotel accommodation in Myvatn area.

Day 7:        
Breakfast at the hotel.
We leave Myvatn and drive towards Goðafoss waterfall where we make a stop before continuing to Akureyri. We spend the afternoon bird watching at the outskirts of the town; particularly in the area along the river and wetlands where we can find various nesting bird species.
Hotel accommodation in Akureyri.

Day 8:        
Breakfast at the hotel.    
We drive along the western coast of Eyjafjörður to Árskógssandur from where we take the morning ferry to Hrísey Island - a bird watcher's paradise. We take a walk on the island which offers great views of the mountains surrounding the longest fjord in Iceland. As there are not natural predators on the island it makes it a perfect sanctuary for birds. Hrísey is home for 40 different species of the nesting birds. Ptarmigan is a signature bird of Hrisey and particulary tame on the island. Research on the species has been conducted here for over 50 years.
In the afternoon we return by ferry to Árskógssandur and take a short drive to Svarfaðardalur for more bird watching. Here the bird reserve spans over roughly 8 of marshland with various species of nesting birds as well as passersby. We return to Akureyri
Hotel accommodation in Akureyri.

Day 9:
Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning transfer to the Nature reserve of Krossanesborgir (4 km from the center of Akureyri) and time for bird watching. On roughly 1 you can find approx. 500-600 nesting pairs of birds of mixed species.
Free afternoon to enjoy Akureyri or you can spend more time bird watching in the Krossanesborgir area.
Hotel accommodation in Akureyri.

Day 10:     
Breakfast at the hotel.
Transfer to Akureyri airport for the morning flight to Reykjavík. Pick up at the airport and sightseeing with bird watching on Reykjanes peninsula in the morning. Afternoon free in Reykjavik city. Free time to explore the local bird life within the city.
Hotel accommodation in Reykjavík: double/twin/single rooms with private facilities.

Day 11:     
Breakfast at the hotel.
Transfer to Keflavík airport in time for your international flight.
It is possible to add-on  extra days to this 11 day package to further explore Iceland.

There are many excellent places for bird watching in North Iceland. Three bird watching hides are located near Akureyri and are available for birdwatchers. These hides are placed in the following areas, Naustaborgir park, The Natural Park of Krossanesborgir, at the estuary of river Eyjafjarðará and there is also one on the island of Hrísey.

At The Krossanesborgir Natural Park which spans over roughly 1 you can find approx. 500 to 600 nesting pairs of birds of mixed species. According to a thorough bird count made in North Iceland in 2003, at least 27 species breed in the region. Some of the listed species: Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea), Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus), Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) and Mew Gull (Larus canus), Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa), various ducks and geese such as Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) and Greylag Goose (Anser anser) as well as many other species of birds.
It is estimated that about 33 different species of birds nest in the estuary of the river Eyjafjarðará, about 40% of all the species that nest in Iceland. The most common birds in the area are Blackheaded Gull (Larus ridibundus) and Common Eider duck (somateria mollissima). Other common birds are Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea), Greylag Goose (Anser anser), Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago), Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus), Eurasian Wigeon (Anas Penelope), etc. Four species in the area are on the Icelandic Institute of Natural history red list i.e. Greylag Goose (Anser anser), Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata), Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) and Mew Gull (Larus canus).

Hrísey is a peaceful island in the middle of Eyjafjörður, it is the second largest island in Iceland, after Heimaey in the south. The island is a well known paradise for bird watchers and the most abundant of all birds on the island is the ptarmigan. About 40 species of birds nest on the island. The northern part of Hrísey is a privately owned nature reserve.

Grímsey is the northern most point of Iceland and located on the Arctic Circle which crosses the island. Grímsey is a part of the municipality of Akureyri. The birdlife on Grímsey is unique with numerous different species and unusually dense populations. The birdlife is flourishing due to several reasons; rich fishing grounds are close by, no rats or mice are on the island and hunting of the birds and collection of their eggs has been reduced to a minimum since earlier times.
During summer Grímsey is a home to nearly all of the main wader, moorland and sea birds that visit Iceland each year.
Grímsey is one of the best places in Iceland for watching cliff nesting birds like; Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla), Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis), Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica), Razorbill (Alca torda), Black Guillemot (Cepphus grylle) and Murre, both Common Murre or Common Guillemot (Uria aalge) & Thick-billed Murre or Brünnich's Guillemot (Uria lomvia). Grímsey has one of Iceland’s largest Arctic tern (Sterna pardisaea) nesting sites and one of the largest Puffin (Fratercula arctica) colonies. Commonly seen in Grímsey are also birds like e.g. the White Wagtail (Motacilla alba), the Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) and the Northern Wheatear or Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe).

Lake Mývatn: The area around the Lake Mývatn and the Laxá river is well known for its rich and diverse birdlife, particularly the abundance of ducks and other waterfowls. Fourteen species of duck breed here at a density virtually unmatched anywhere in the world. Almost all the species of waterfowl found in Iceland breed in the area around Lake Mývatn and Laxá river. The most common duck is the Tufted  Duck (Aythya fuligula), while Barrow’s Goldeneye (Bucephala Islandica), Greater Scaup (Aythya marila), Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope), Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca) and Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) are also common. One of the best known Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus) colonies in the world is located where the Laxá river flows out of Lake Mývatn. Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus) and Greylag Geese (Anser anser) are widely distributed around the lake in summer. Pink-footed Geese (Anser brachyrhynchus) breed on the edge of the highlands to the south of Mývatn and in small numbers by the lake itself. There are several pairs of Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer) and Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata) in the area, and Red-necked Phalaropes (Phalaropus lobatus) are common. The lake also has the densest population of Horned Grebes (Podiceps auritus) in Iceland. Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus) and Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea) are numerous and most species of wader, passerine and raptor found in Iceland are represented at Mývatn.
Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus) is common; there are several pairs of Gyr Falcon (Falco rusticolus), a few pairs of Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) and good numbers of Merlin (Falco columbarius).

There is plenty to see and do on one of our Nature and Bird Watching packages to North Iceland, the pace of the tours are relaxed. Time to enjoy each activity and area visited. The Tour Leader/ local guide is with the group from start to finish in the North and the group would be met by a driver at both Keflavík and Reykjavik airport for the airport  transfers.

Nonni Travel is based in Akureyri and so we are on hand to help with any additional requests for our clients during their stay in Iceland. We strive to deliver a personal professional service, customer satisfaction is at the top of our list!

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Nonni Travel

Brekkugata 5
600 Akureyri, Iceland

Tel. +354 461 1841
nonni (at)


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