TOUR PACKAGE 3
Arrival and Common Eider
Mývatn – a paradise for birdwatchers
This day tour offers birdwatching with a guide in the Lake Mývatn area. It starts from Sigurgeir’s Bird Museum.
Lake Mývatn is a paradise for birdwatchers. This area, which could be described as “Europe’s duck factory,” is simply packed with birds, including many Barrow’s Goldeneyes and Harlequin Ducks. A typical list of birds will include up to 50 species, and will quite likely include Gyr Falcon. Arriving at the Mývatn area from Reykjadalur, we will take a look at Lake Másvatn, where there is a good chance of seeing Great Northern Divers.
We then approach the river Laxá which flows out of Mývatn. This uppermost part of the river is the prime habitat for Harlequin Duck and Barrow’s Goldeneye in Iceland. We then start the circuit around Mývatn and make a stop at Álftavogur to scan the flocks of ducks for scarcer visitors. Near Skútustaðir there are small lakes in extensive wetlands, which hold many species of ducks, including Long-tailed Duck and the occasional Common Pochard. We will continue around the lake and make a few stops to view birds and the picturesque and impressive scenery.
The woodlands at Höfði are a great place for a walk, with views of some unusual lava formations in the lake. There are plenty of Common Redpoll, Redwing and Eurasian Wren here, as well as various ducks on the lake. Between here and Reykjahlíð village, we will look for dabbling ducks including Gadwall and the scarce Northern Shoveler. At Neslandavík there are often large flocks of Tufted Duck, Greater Scaup and Eurasian Wigeon. It is also a good site for Common Scoter and may also yield scarce vagrants such as American Wigeon, Common Pochard and Ring-necked Duck.
Sigurgeir’s Bird Museum is conveniently located on this bay, at one of the best birdwatching sites at Mývatn. The last key site is called Álar, nearly as rich in birds as Neslandavík and likely to contain scarce species.
This tour takes around 8 hours, packed lunch included.
Húsavík and the Whale Museum
In the afternoon we will go on a boat trip with the whalewatching company Gentle Giants to Flatey Island in Skjálfandi Bay close to Húsavík. On the way to Flatey, we will look for whales and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Skjálfandi Bay. Flatey Island was inhabited from the 11th century but has been deserted since 1967 and is a natural haven for birdlife. Flatey is home to more than 30 different species of birds during the breeding season, including very approachable Puffins.
Bird Hides and Sightseeing
It is also a perfect opportunity to visit many of the natural attractions in the area, such as Dimmuborgir (a spectacular lava field), go hiking on Mt. Hverfjall which is a gigantic tephra crater approximately one kilometre in diameter and 140 metres deep, and was formed around 2,500 years ago. This hike takes about 2-3 hours. Other interesting places are the Krafla volcanic area and the Mývatn Nature Baths. Another memorable excursion is a visit to Europe’s most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss, and the spectacular canyon Ásbyrgi.
Tjörnes – Kelduhverfi Day tour
Tjörnes is known for its particularly dense population of Rock Ptarmigan, but unfortunately they can be hard to find after mid-June due to their secretive behaviour. We will look for Great Cormorant on skerries and point out a large Puffin colony offshore. Arriving in Kelduhverfi, we make a stop at the lagoon Lón, which often holds a range of interesting birds, mostly waders, gulls and ducks. King Eider is sometimes found with the Common Eider.
The next key site is the unique lake Víkingavatn (lake of Vikings). It is one of the richest wetlands in Iceland, packed with grebes and ducks. Red-necked Phalarope is also numerous here. The next stop is a rich wetland, Skjálftavatn, a large lake formed by a series of earthquakes in 1976. The last important site on this tour is Ásbyrgi, a deep gorge formed by massive flooding of the glacier river Jökulsá á Fjöllum after the last Ice Age. A hike in the birch woodland in Ásbyrgi should produce Eurasian Wren, Redwing and Common Redpoll and the scenery in the canyon is magnificent. This tour takes about 8 hours, packed lunch included.
Gentle Giants RIB tour