Iceland is literally a country which takes your breath away. Inspiring scenery at every turn, extraordinary landscapes, and astounding natural wonders; you will leave the country with a determined mindset to return.
Though perhaps even more exotic than majestic glaciers grinding their way through cracked lava fields, and more captivating than witnessing glittering ice caps pierce the sky, is the opportunity to witness and interact with the country’s exotic variety of seabirds and wildlife. Only birds and foxes inhabited the land when Scandinavian Vikings arrived in the 8th century, and many of these unique creatures still inhabit the island to this day, the puffin being one of Iceland’s biggest wildlife draws. Best places for wildlife in Iceland
Seabirds arrive by the million for the breeding season between April and August, and nest on coastal cliffs all around the country in massive colonies. And to say that they arrive in the million is no understatement – we literally spent days shooting seabirds (photography) and have more photography than we could possibly hope to edit in a lifetime. Best Iceland Wildlife
The following are Iceland’s top locations to see birds and wildlife – because Iceland holidays can be about so much more than the Golden Circle and that famous geothermal lagoon! Best places for wildlife in Iceland
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Lake Mývatn collects the best of Iceland all in one place: abundant wildlife, volcano cones, mud pits, thermal pools and steaming lava flows. It truly is like no other place on earth. What kind of wildlife is in Iceland.
As far as wildlife viewing is concerned, this is recognized as one of the premier bird-watching sites in the world; the lake and its surrounding wetlands have an exceptionally rich fauna of waterbirds, with over 115 species of birds, and 13 species of ducks. Most nesting birds arrive in late April or early May.
A trip to Lake Mývatn slots easily into a trip to see Iceland’s laid-back northern capital, Akureyri, and a whale-watching expedition from Húsavík. While ducks and other wildfowl are the main draws, be on the watch for the elusive Arctic fox and gyrfalcon who are also regularly encountered. Iceland wildlife
Pro Tip: The name “Mývatn” comes from the vast numbers of midges that gather at the lake, so be sure to take mosquito netting or repellent to avoid them.
Way out in the West Fjords, Látrabjarg bird cliffs are home to millions of birds, including puffins, northern gannets, guillemots and razorbills. It’s Europe’s largest bird cliff, 14km long and up to 440m high. Icelands best birds
This trip will take a little bit of planning, but it’s absolutely worth your while. You’ll never forget your first sight of these cliffs, covered by enormous, noisy colonies of nestling sea-birds. The birds are very trusting of humans, so you’ll leave with amazing close-up shots. Best places for wildlife in Iceland.
Stop along the way for a walk or sunbathe on Breiðavík Beach.
One of Iceland’s most remote locations on the West Fjords’ extreme northwest, at 533 m (1,749 ft), Hornbjarg is the highest clifftop on the isolated, completely uninhabited Hornstrandir Peninsula. Walking the cliffs is a truly “edge of the world” experience, and like Látrabjarg, it is teeming with millions of fulmars, kittiwakes, razorbills and guillemots. Best places for wildlife in Iceland.
To get here is a bit of a pain; due to its extremely inaccessible location you will have to catch irregular boats from Ísafjörður (2.5-3 hour one way boat ride) mostly through the Arctic, and then hike back over several days. The definition of “off the beaten path” due to the travel required, most travelers never see it.
The small peninsula, of Dyrhólaey is an easy detour off the highway on the south coast of Iceland between Skógar and Vik. You’ll have the opportunity to get up close and personal with puffins and other seabirds, though will also witness the black, volcanic-sand beaches and the huge sea arch, large enough for a ship to sail through. Best places for wildlife in Iceland.
Pro Tip: Arctic terns nest here and can be quite aggressive when protecting their nests.
One of the most spellbinding sights of southeastern Iceland, Jökulsárlón is a stunning glacial lagoon in the South. This deep ice-berg filled lagoon between the sea and Breiðamerkurjökull glacier is a great place to spot seals and, if you’re lucky, perhaps even an orca whale.
The land on either side of the lagoon are full of nesting terns and skuas – and Arctic foxes looking for a meal.
Icelandic waters make a home for around 24 species of whales, and the North is extraordinary. Home to many different species of whales, dolphins and birds, a sailing trip out from Húsavík to Skjálfandi during summer is one of the best ways to guarantee a marine mammal sighting.
Larger whales only appear during the summer to feed, though smaller whales stay there all year round. You are most likely to see seals and dolphins, though with any luck you’ll witness the spectacular humpback whales leaping out of the water in a breach, or perhaps even spot an orca.
This narrow, sandy spit of land between Vik and Höfn is said to be where Iceland’s first settler, Ingolfur Arnarson, landed.
A small headland and private nature reserve on the south coast of Iceland, it is here where fearless puffins and greater skua nest in summer, and here where tourists jump into the back of a hay cart towed by a tractors trundling in from the highway – tours with a form of transport few of us have ever tried!