- Full Itinerary
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- Costing & Travel Details
- Trip Reports
- Know Before You Go
- Other Trips You May Like
Go north for your next adventure! Our Iceland birding tour is also an incredible chance to experience geysers, grand waterfalls, wildflowers, glaciers, mountains, and seacoasts. Iceland is a natural crossroads for species of Europe and North America, and while typical for an island the species count is not high, the quality of views and mix of species makes for a delightful holiday. We have chosen to circumnavigate the island to include as much of Iceland's diversity in both species and locations but we still have a well-paced journey with three nights in one of the hotels, two nights in two of our hotels, and two single night stays to break up long travel distances. We drive between our locations, savoring Iceland’s iconic landscapes—a mix of wild terrain and picturesque farms, home to grazing sheep and unique Icelandic horses.
Lying in the productive waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, this stunning island country of Iceland has long beckoned to travelers and birdwatchers alike. This is where ancient Nordic history and sagas come to life; it’s easy to immerse yourself in dramatic green vistas, glaciers, waterfalls, lava fields, and dramatic mountain ranges. The birds of Iceland are intriguing, home to northern specialties like Rock Ptarmigan and Snow Bunting and boasting thousands of breeding Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, Thick-billed Murre, other seabirds, and waterfowl. We watch for powerfully-flying Gyrfalcon that hunt over nesting colonies—Iceland’s national bird.
- Spend two days exploring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, taking in dramatic scenery and bountiful nesting colonies
- Bird Lake Myvatn, one of the most important breeding locations for waterfowl in all of Europe
- Visit Hrísey Island and walk the trails, on the lookout for Black-tailed Godwit, Snow Bunting, Meadow Pipit, and Rock Ptarmigan
- Ferry to the Hafnarholmi Island one of the best places in Iceland to observe Atlantic Puffin. Northern Fulmar and Black-legged Kittiwake also breed on the island.
- Bird the otherworldly setting of glaciers and glacier moraine for species such as Whimbrel and Dunlin. Here we may also encounter breeding pairs of Great Skua, Northern Wheatear and Red-throated Diver.
- Macro photographers will delight in exploring the lava fields, home to some of the most stunning vegetation on the island, including 130 species of plants, including many ferns and specialty orchids.
Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.
Sat., June 8 : Arrivals & Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Welcome to Iceland! Please plan to arrive early this morning at Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport (KEF), just 30 miles southwest of Reykjavik. Once we have all assembled, we stop in Keflavik for a welcome breakfast where we get to know our guide and fellow travelers. It’s going to be a fun 10 days!
Then, off we go, passing by Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, en route to the stunning Hvalfjörõur Fjord and Borgarnes, an historic settlement. We, of course, bird along the way, making time to stop for birds and scenery. Have your binoculars and cameras ready. We keep our eyes peeled for Redwing and White Wagtail, and along the coast we look for Lesser and Glaucous Black-backed Gulls and shorebirds.
Iceland’s volcanic topography is impressive; even as we drive away from the airport, we work our way through immense lava fields, covered in brilliant mosses. We make our way to Snæfellsnes Peninsula on the far western side of the island, where we spend the next two nights.
Accommodations at Hotel Langaholt (B,L,D)
Sun., June 9 : Snæfellsnes Peninsula
We spend the day exploring the 60 mile-long Snæfellsnes Peninsula, which is home to dramatic sea cliffs, beautiful fjords, beaches, and striking volcanic peaks. Today we visit massive seabird nesting colonies, where we watch for nesting Common and Thick-billed Murres and Black-legged Kittiwake. In addition to coastal headlands and cliffs, wetlands and shallow ponds of the peninsula host Red-throated Loon, Whooper Swan, Arctic Tern, Black-headed Gull, and shorebirds such as Red-necked Phalarope and Common Redshank.
From ocean lookouts, we keep our eyes peeled for cetaceans—including Humpback Whales! As we round the peninsula, if conditions are right, we hope to have grand views of the Snæfellsjökull icecap, a 700,000 year old glacier capped volcano.
If we have time this afternoon, we take a walk through the lava fields. We also witness the stunning sea cliffs and watch for breeding birds like Thick-billed Murre. Did you know? Lava fields here are home to some of the most stunning vegetation on the island. Approximately 130 species of plants nestle in here, including many ferns and some specialty orchids. Macro photographers can delight in the botany show today.
Accommodations at Hotel Langaholt (B,L,D)
Mon., June 10 : Scenic Drive to Akureyri
We depart the peninsula today, traveling east across the northern part of the island to Akureyri on Eyjafjöfõur Fjord. The city of Akureyri, amass with colorful buildings and home to a beautiful and colorful town center, is on the inner-most western shore of the fjord and often hosts cruise ships; this is Iceland’s second largest city, population 19,000.
Our drive takes most of the day, but we stop often for photos and to bird, of course. Roadside ponds and wetlands and the barren uplands offer us good birding opportunities; watch for Graylag, Pink-footed Goose, and breeding shorebirds that should include Dunlin in bright plumage.
Once in Akureyri we take an afternoon walk through its main woodland park where we can expect to encounter most of Iceland's forest breeding passerines: Redwing, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redpoll, and Wren.
Accommodations at Hotel Rauðaskriða (B,L,D)
Tue., June 11 : Lake Mývatn & Breeding Waterfowl
For birders, spending the day at Lake Mývatn (translates to Midge Lake) is a real highlight. The lake is located in the Northwest quadrant of the island and is famous for its flora, fauna, and heated lagoon. The lake is located at the western edge of a volcanic zone that crosses the island; Lake Mývatn was formed over 2,300 years ago when a lava flow dammed a river. This shallow lake and the Laxá River are considered two of the most important waterfowl breeding locations in all of Europe.
Barrow’s Goldeneye, Greater Scaup, and Gadwall mingle here with Tufted Duck, Common Scoter, and Long-tailed Duck, as well as Horned Grebe, Eurasian Teal, Red-necked Phalarope, Common Loon, and plentiful other waterfowl and wetland species. Summer is breeding season and we are on the lookout for tiny and adorable chicks! We also work the river looking for stunning Harlequin Duck feeding in rapid waters, and we keep our eyes peeled for predators: Merlin, Gyrfalcon, and Short-eared Owl.
Wildflowers are also abundant here, with many wetland species in prime bloom.
Accommodations at Hotel Rauðaskriða (B,LD)
Wed., June 12 : Arctic Tundra Birding
Today we go to the town of Húsavík and then further east along the north coast to an area called Melrakkaslétta, the northernmost part of Iceland's mainland. This flat and vast landscape is as close to true Arctic tundra habitat as can be found in Iceland, although it lies just south of the Arctic circle. Its main features are numerous lakes and ponds where loons, ducks, and shorebirds come to breed during the short northern summer. One of the highlights of the day is a walk out to Rauðinúpur sea stacks with its colony of nesting Northern Gannet, one of the most majestic of the North Atlantic seabirds. There are also a few pairs of Gyrfalcons nesting in the areas we pass through today and with luck we may come across one of those magnificent Arctic falcons.
Accommodations at Hotel Rauðaskriða (B,LD)
Thurs., June 13 : Hafnarhólmi Puffin Colony
After breakfast we continue our eastward journey and pass through the town of Egilsstaðir, the largest settlement in east Iceland. From there we venture even further east to the village of Bakkagerði in Borgarfjörður fjord where we visit the small island of Hafnarhólmi, one of the best places in Iceland to observe Atlantic Puffin. Black-legged Kittiwake also breed on the island and a few pairs of Northern Fulmar. Black Guillemot can be spotted low on the cliffs or on the sea around the island. BirdLife Iceland, the country's only bird conservation society, is the majority owner of Hafnarhólmi bird reserve; stairs and viewing platforms make it a safe and enjoyable birdwatching place for both people and birds.
After our detour to Borgarfjörður eystri we continue through the glacier carved landscape of the eastern fjords. Our final destination today is the small village of Breiðdalsvík where we spend the night.
Accommodations at Hotel Breiðdalsvík (B,L,D)
Fri., June 14 : Towards Vatnajökull, Iceland's Largest Glacier
Our adventure continues as we navigate the winding road through the eastern fjords. We visit the wetland area at Djúpivogur where we can expect to encounter Red-throated Loon, Shelduck, Tufted Duck, and possibly Northern Shoveler. Shorebirds, such as Black-tailed Godwit, also frequent the ponds where birdwatching blinds have been built.
The road from Djúpivogur to Lón goes by a rugged coastline where groups of Common Scoter can be seen riding the waves. Other "black ducks" are sometimes mixed with them, such as Velvet Scoter and Surf Scoter. The Lón lagoon is a primary staging area for migrating Whooper Swan and groups of them are still present in mid-June. The town of Höfn is our next stop and now we are in the vicinity of Vatnajökull glacier, Iceland's largest icecap. The scenery is stunning, and we pass a number of outlet glaciers on our way to Hali country hotel, where we spend the next two nights.
Accommodations at Hotel Hali (B,L,D)
Sat., June 15 : Glacier & Ice Lagoons
Our morning starts at the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. This massive lagoon was formed as the Breiðarmerkurjökull started retreating in the 1930s. Icebergs that calve from the glacier float around in the lagoon until they are small enough to pass through the short river channel that separates the lagoon from the ocean. The channel is teaming with life and a fishing ground for Arctic Tern and several gull species. This is a good time to spot Iceland Gull and possibly the more elusive Sabine's Gull. Parasitic Jaeger is also present and chases terns and gulls that have caught fish.
We encounter many groups of Barnacle Goose as we drive along gravel tracks to smaller glacier lagoons and we look for breeding Northern Wheatear on rocky slopes. Many of the smaller ponds we pass have a breeding pair of Red-throated Diver and these are also breeding grounds of Great Skua. The drier tundra holds Whimbrel and the wetter areas have Dunlin. Seeing such shorebirds, along with other common Iceland breeding birds, in the otherworldly setting of glaciers and glacier moraine is a unique experience.
Accommodations at Hotel Hali (B,L,D)
Sun., June 16 : The South Coast
Today is our last full day of birding as we continue driving west. We make frequent stops along the way, including at the black sand beaches near the town of Vík on the south coast. We drive out to Dyrhólaey headland, which has a small breeding population of Atlantic Puffin. We then walk the woodland trails of Skógar in the hope of catching a glimpse of some rare breeding passerines, such as Siskin and Crossbill. The day then ends in the town of Hella, where we can relax in the outdoor hot tubs and sauna at Stracta hotel.
Accommodations at Stracta Hotel (B,L,D)
Mon., June 17 : Return to Keflavík & Departures
We say goodbye to Iceland and its lovely people and landscapes today, making our way back to Reykjavík and on to the airport. But we do make time to bird along the way. We plan to be in Reykjavík by noonish to give everyone a chance to shop, explore the city and have a final lunch together before making our way to the airport in the afternoon. Some may want to stay on a few days to explore this northern city. (B,L)
Cost of the Journey
Cost of the Journey is $6690 DBL / $7540 SGL, based on double occupancy, per person.
Cost includes departure airport transfers, 9 nights’ accommodations, all meals from dinner Day One through breakfast Day 10, professional guide services, park and preserve entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses. Cost does not include airfare to and from your home to Keflavik, Iceland, or items of a personal nature, such as drinks from the bar, telephone, and local guide gratuities (at your discretion, we will give some guidelines).
Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.
Please plan to arrive at Keflavik International Airport (KEF) no later than early morning on June 8. Many flights arrive between 4:00 and 6:00 AM. If you see a flight that arrives later than 7:00 AM, please check with us before booking. If you’d like a gentler arrival, we encourage you to arrive a day or two early (at your own cost). Keflavik is small and has convenient airport hotels; Reykjavik has lovely restaurants and a downtown area that’s pleasant to walk around and explore at your leisure. Please plan departures after 4:00 PM on June 17.
Travel Authorization Required: Iceland is one of thirty European countries that, beginning in 2024, now require visitors from more than 60 visa-free countries (including the U.S.) to get a (quick and painless online) travel authorization through the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) website.
Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.
Kent was born and raised in Nebraska and this is where he developed his passion for birds and nature in general. He worked 20 years at Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary where he helped countless visitors experience the annual spring staging of Sandhill Cranes along the Platte River in south-central Nebraska. While at Rowe, he conducted bird surveys on the sanctuary and coordinated and led birding field trips for the annual Audubon Nebraska Crane Festival. He also spent three seasons leading tours to see displaying Greater Prairie-Chickens and Sharp-tailed Grouse for Calamus Outfitters in the Nebraska Sandhills. Kent and his partner Kathy currently reside in southwest Virginia.
Other trips with Kent Skaggs
Costa Rica's Caribbean Side FULL - Check out our 2024 departure!October 9 - 19, 2023
Japan Birding & Nature January 7 - 23, 2024
Costa Rica Birding & Nature Full! Take a look at our July Costa Rica tour!February 11 - 18, 2024, w/Pacific Coast extension
Platte River Cranes: A Migration SpectacularMarch 10 - 16, 2024
Platte River Cranes: A Migration SpectacularMarch 17 - 23, 2024
Georgia Coastal Birding Little St. Simon Island & SavannahApril 26 - May 3, 2024
Ohio: The Biggest Week in BirdingMay 8 - 15, 2024
Nevada's Great BasinAugust 23 - 31, 2024
- Costa Rica's Caribbean Side
Essential Information +
This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!
Ahead of Your Tour
- Make sure your passport will be valid at least six months after the date of your scheduled return to the U.S.
- Visa requirements in Europe are changing for 2024. Please learn more and apply through the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) website.
- Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Iceland and consult with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “Health and Inoculations” section below.
- Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance, agent number 176098.
- Plan your flight reservations arriving into and departing from Keflavik International Airport (KEF). Send a copy of your itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office please.
- Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.
Arrival into Keflavik, Iceland
Please note: If you are delayed in travel, please refer to your emergency contact list, and contact your ground operator, with a copy to our office. You may also phone or text your guide. Quite a few of your guides will set up a WhatsApp connection so you can also reach your guide by phone.
The airport for this tour is Keflavik International Airport (KEF). Please plan your flights to arrive early in the morning for the first day of the tour. Upon arrival at the airport, you will pass through immigration and customs and exit to the main terminal area. Your emergency contact sheet will be helpful at Immigration when they ask where you are going.
We will coordinate your pick-ups close to your departure with operators and guides once we have all travelers completed travel information. Please make sure we have both your ARRIVAL and DEPARTURE information, so they can plan this. It is imperative that we have your correct TRAVEL information; please email us a copy. Staff will monitor updated arrival information based on this.
Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.
Departures from Keflavik, Iceland
The departure airport for this tour is Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport (KEF). Please plan your flights out for the afternoon. We will provide transfers or arrange for taxis to the airport for all departures as needed for the departure day. The departure fee is now typically built into your airline fare.
Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.
Passports, Visas & Documents
You must have a passport that is in good condition and is valid for six months AFTER your scheduled return to the U.S. You should have at least one blank page per stamp. The blank pages need to say “Visas” at the top. Pages marked “Amendments and Endorsements” will not be accepted. If you are from another country, please contact the Iceland embassy website for guidelines. Information for U.S. citizens can be found at:
Entrance requirements in Europe are changing for 2024, requiring visitors from more than 60 visa-free countries (including the U.S.) to get a travel authorization when entering Europe for brief stays. Please learn more and apply through the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) website.
It’s wise to carry a color photocopy of your passport ID page in a separate location while traveling, and to leave a copy with your emergency contact person at home. You may want to take a photo with your phone and have a copy there, along with a photo of the BAR CODE on your luggage tag. If your passport is lost or stolen, or your bag is misplaced, these photos will greatly expedite replacement.
General Health & Inoculations Information – Be Prepared!
We will share your health information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of medical emergency. Do bring any prescription medications with you and its best if you have a copy of the prescription in case of loss. A supply of standard over-the-counter medications for common ailments is recommended.
At the time of writing there were no required vaccinations to enter Iceland. The CDC recommends that all travelers be up to date with routine vaccinations and basic travel vaccines (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid) before traveling to any destination. Please check with your doctor for recommendations at least 4-6 weeks before departing on your trip. A helpful website for planning is the Center for Disease Control (USA) or by phone (800) CDC-INFO.
We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and medications for common ailments, as well as an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. You should bring an adequate supply of any prescription drugs you use, and in addition, a list of generic names of your medicine as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad. When traveling with medication, it is a good idea to pack any drugs you take regularly in your carry-on luggage. You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers. It is also a good idea to carry with you an up-to-date record of known allergies or chronic medical problems so that emergency treatment, if necessary, can be carried out without endangering your health.
Weather & Climate
Plan for a large variation in weather conditions. Sunshine and rain are equally likely. Highs average in the low- to mid-50s°F, and lows in the low-40s°F., with comfortable to high humidity. A 55-degree day with sun is a banner June day in Iceland. So come prepared with layers of clothing, including a rain-jacket that can double as a windbreaker, and an umbrella. Bring waterproofs, walking boots or shoes and warm clothing. A fleece vest is a great garment with a sweater and windbreaker. Iceland does have rain, and as it’s a regular feature, the field work will continue regardless. We suggest you be well prepared!
Food & Drinks
Meals during this journey will reflect local cuisine and specialties. Menus at the inns are varied and are sustainably based on the wonderful local ingredients available.
Bottled water will be available for field trips and drinking water is provided for you to refill a bottle. One of the many ways we strive to do our part for the environment is by trying to reduce our consumption of plastics; if convenient we appreciate if you can bring reusable water bottles.
Packing, Clothing & Laundry
Dress is very informal and laundry services are available for a fee at our lodges. While some people will change for dinner, it is usually just to a drier or cleaner version of what they wore during the day.
Please, pack light as lightly as possible and do not bring anything more than you must. Lay out your hopeful things to take and then do a serious paring down please! And please do not pack any essential medications, or your vital optics, in your checked luggage!
TRAVEL TIP: Imagine NOT getting your suitcase. Wear your most important shoes for the field, have one day’s clothing change, and a change of underwear!
The official currency in Iceland is the Icelandic Krona (ISK). We advise you carry a mix of different types of payments, such as cash, an ATM card, and a credit card. For the current exchange rate, please refer to an online converter tool like www.xe.com, or your bank. U.S. dollars in good condition (no rips or tears) are taken as a form of payment but shopping for smaller handicrafts may necessitate using local currency.
When using the ATM to withdrawal cash, keep in mind it might only accept cards from local banks or not allow cash advances on credit cards. Many U.S. banks charge a fee of $1 - $5 each time you use a foreign ATM. Others may charge you a percentage of the amount you withdraw. Check with your bank before departure. You must become familiar with how to use your ATM card and PIN number ahead of the journey.
We suggest you have more than one card available, if possible. You may want to bring more than one brand of card (VISA and Mastercard are commonly accepted; American Express is less common). You can use credit cards at lodges to pay your bar and gift tabs. Not every shop will accept every card. Some smaller shops and restaurants, or taxis require cash, so it is always a good idea to ask before making a purchase. Also, we recommend that you advise your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling abroad to avoid questions, card freezes, or charges. If you have a choice of cards, bring one with no foreign exchange fees.
Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted. They can be difficult to exchange. We do not advise you use them.
Expect the normal tipping protocol to apply for your hotel maids and bar service. If at the end of the tour, you would like to show our appreciation to your guides, tipping is entirely appropriate but at your discretion. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services. Gratuities for group meals are included. For your birding tour guide, we suggest $10-$15 per day per guest. Note that if there is more than one guide, this can be split among them.
*Please note that these suggested tips are quoted in U.S. Dollars. You will want to convert and tip in Krona but they will accept either currency – it’s just most directly useful in their own.
Cell Phones & Internet Service
If you plan on using your cell phone on this trip, please check with your wireless provider to see if your phone and service will work in your destination country. Ask for “international roaming” to be activated on your phone.
If your phone can connect to Wi-Fi, you may be able to make voice and video calls free of charge. Please contact your cell phone provider for further details. Another option when you have access to Wi-Fi is to use smartphone apps like Skype, WhatsApp or Viber to send text messages and make voice or video calls. Many smartphones, tablets and laptops come with one of these apps pre-installed or you can download for free. If bringing a laptop or tablet, get a good dustcover to protect it at all times.
Make sure if you do NOT want to use your cell phone for calling that you turn off your cellular data. You keep it in airplane mode. You could incur huge charges if you are not on Wi-Fi. You can still use it for photos, ebird and everything else not requiring cell reception and will decrease battery usage as well.
Your hotel and lodges provide Wi-Fi at least in their common areas. Although it is generally a reliable service, it can be affected by adverse weather conditions due to the remote location.
Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers, unless it appears to be an emergency. This disrupts other guests; plan on cell phone call use on your own time.
Iceland uses northern European standards, so the voltage in Iceland is 230V, higher than in the United States (120V), with frequency of 50 Hz. Electrical sockets (outlets) in Iceland are primarily "Type F".
You will most likely need to bring a power plug adapter, and a voltage converter in order to use appliances or devices from the U.S. that do not automatically detect and convert voltages. To be sure, check the label on your appliance. More information can be found at www.power-plugs-sockets.com.
Iceland is in the Greenwich Mean Time Zone, which is 5 hours earlier than New York (Eastern Time). Iceland does not observe Summer Time (or Daylight Savings Time). Check www.timeanddate.com before leaving home for your conversion.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!
Pace & Protocols +
Pace of the Tour & What to Expect
You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.
Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.
The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.
We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.
Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role
Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.
Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.
As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.
Photo Release & Sharing
We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.
By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.
You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, agent number 176098, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global Rescue, World Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.
Packing List +
Please Pack Light!
- Soft luggage is easiest for us to pack in the vehicles – duffle bags are a great choice
- Include your name and address on the inside of the bag and the luggage tag
- Most airlines charge for checked bags over 50 pounds
- We recommend that you double check with your airline a week or so before departure to verify luggage size and weight restrictions
- Pack medications, airline tickets, binoculars, camera, emergency contact information, and other essentials in your carry-on ? you’ll want a daypack for field trips, so this can serve a dual purpose
- Dress is very informal
- The weather during your stay will be cool, with days in the mid to low 50s°F and nights in the low 40s°F.
- Lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing; they protect you from sun, insects, and vegetation
- In general, dress is very informal. Choose clothes you can get dirty ? and things that are comfortable and easy. Layering is your best strategy for comfort. You’ll want to be able to add or remove layers as the weather changes swiftly. Fabrics like fleece, as well as rain gear, will protect you from rain and wind and keep you warm. Iceland is considered to be a very windy country which can make the temperature feel several degrees cooler than what is forecasted. You will need to bring a good windbreaker.
- Please avoid white or brightly colored outerwear for the field. Supportive hiking boots are essential for our walks.
Clothing and Gear
- Long pants, 2-3 pair. One of these might be rain pants or quick dry hiking pants work well if you plan to do hand laundry.
- Long-sleeved shirts/turtlenecks, 3-4 – think layering
- T-shirts or equivalent, 1 (optional) for layering
- Long underwear, 1 pair lightweight (silk or polypro is nice) or thermal depending on your need for the varied weather. Alternatively fleece tights are a good option to layer under rain pants.
- Medium to heavy jacket for warmth and wind protection – layer with rain gear
- Lightweight sweater or fleece shirt
- Medium weight zip jacket, sweater or equivalent
- Lined windbreaker
- Down or fleece vest (windproof, if possible; this is a great clothing item for this climate).
- Rain gear – a two-piece suit is preferred that protects you from top to toe. It is important that this be both waterproof and breathable, you will most likely be wearing it for active activities (hiking), as well as large enough to fit over other layers for sedentary activities (boat/ferry trips) as an additional layer. This doubles as wind gear so find a set that is comfortable. Second hand stores might work just fine if you need to purchase.
- Warm jacket (windproof) can be same as your rain gear if you layer adequately.
- Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes or a skirt, etc.)
- Hat with broad brim
- Scarf or neck gaiter, warm and water-repellent gloves or mittens, warm hat
- Personal underclothing and pajamas
- Socks – several warm pairs (like Smartwool), and several pairs of a lightweight, easy to wash and dry material. We enjoy Socks for Animals—high quality, lightweight socks that donate a portion of its proceeds to wildlife conservation
- Comfortable walking shoes (such as tennis shoes)
- Supportive hiking boots that can keep your feet dry. You may want to treat your boots with snow- seal or other similar product. Another good option is an LL Bean type boot with rubber bottoms and leather uppers. Bring shoes with good support and firm grip tread.
- Comfortable shoes for evenings, travel days
- Bandana (optional)
- Swimsuit for Icelandic-style thermal swimming pools (optional)
Equipment and Miscellaneous
- E-ticket verification
- Personal identification
- Passport with copy kept elsewhere
- Small daypack or fanny pack to carry gear while hiking (essential!)
- Binoculars (a hotel shower cap is great to cover these when it is raining)
- Umbrella (compact and not brightly colored)
- Walking sticks (optional)
- Flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries (in good working order with extra batteries, just in case!)
- Alarm clock (If you use your phone, important to turn off data roaming)
- Sunscreen/lip balm
- Sunglasses with neck strap
- Toiletry articles
- Insect repellent
- Sleeping mask or equivalent to cover your eyes if you are light sensitive. Iceland has very bright summer nights.
- Head net – black flies are common especially around Lake Myvatn.
- Earplugs if you are noise sensitive
- Spotting scope (optional). Guides will have a scope to share, but feel free to bring your own.
- Camera and extra battery, memory cards, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
- Electrical converter and plug adaptor
- Water bottle (or plan to reuse our store-bought water bottle if prefer)
- Gallon-size zipper bags for keeping things dry
- Laundry soap for hand washing, travel sewing kit
- Notebook and pen or journal (optional)
- Field guides (optional)
- Phrase book (optional)
WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!
Medical and First Aid Items
- Personal medication
- Copy of eyeglass and medical prescriptions, and any medical alerts
- Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed in vans or boat
- Personal first aid kit including medications for general and stomach ailments (Imodium or Lomotil, antihistamine cream or tablets, eye drops, etc.)
- Band-Aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
- Foot powder, lotions for dry skin, general “comfort” items
- Small bottle of hand sanitizer
- Insurance information
- Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
Suggested Reading List +
There are many titles of interest for Iceland; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.
Merlin App – Iceland Pack. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Before departing the U.S., download the app for free, then from within the app, download the “pack” for Iceland.
History & Culture
Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.
Useful Links +
Nature, Wildlife & Biology
Icelandic Institute of Natural History – A very informative and extensive site
Iceland Avibase Checklist
Conservation, Parks & Reserves
Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park
Hveravellir Nature Reserve
Geology & Geography
Exploring the Earth - This fabulous website/blog is chock full of photos and maps and encourages you to explore through the eyes of a geologist. Be sure to view all three sections as our tour features them all! You can click on the first to access all.
Reykjavík, Golden Circle and Snæfellsnes
- North Landscapes: https://exploringtheearth.com/2016/08/27/iceland-volcanic-landscapes-north/
- Center and South: https://exploringtheearth.com/2016/09/26/iceland-glaciers-volcanoes-south/
History & Culture
Icelandic Culture and History
Folklore and Myth
10 Facts about Iceland
15 Traditional Icelandic Food & Cuisine
Icelandic Greetings and Pronunciations (3 minute video)
Helpful Travel Websites
Keflavík International Airport (KEF)
National Passport Information Center
U.S. Department of State International Travel Information - Iceland
Homeland Security Real ID Act
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Iceland
Canada Travel Advice and Advisories - Iceland
Travel Health Pro (UK) - Iceland
Foreign Exchange Rates
Electricity and Plugs - Iceland
Date, Time, and Holidays – Iceland
Photo credits: Banner: Atlantic Puffin by Greg Smith; Red-throated Loon by Greg Smith; Juvenile Gyrafalcon by Peg Abbott; Merlin by Greg Smith; Orca by Greg Smith; Golden Plover, by Daniel Bergmann; Jokulsarlon, by Daniel Bergmann; Myvatn, by Daniel Bergmann; Red-necked Phalarope, by Daniel Bergmann; Black-tailed Godwit, by Daniel Bergmann; Puffin, by Daniel Bergmann; Common Eider, by Daniel Bergmann; Gyrfalcon, by Daniel Bergmann; Harbour Seal, by Daniel Bergmann; Red-throated Loon, by Daniel Bergmann; Red-necked Phalarope, by Daniel Bergmann; Snow Bunting, by Daniel Bergmann; Barnacle Geese, by Daniel Bergmann; Snaefellsnes, by Daniel Bergmann; Puffin, by Daniel Bergmann; Myvatn, by Daniel Bergmann; Purple Sandpiper, by Daniel Bergmann; Short-eared Owl, by Daniel Bergmann; Black Guillemot, by Daniel Bergmann; Common Eider, by Daniel Bergmann; Godafoos, by Daniel Bergmann; Jokulsarlon, by Daniel Bergmann; Puffin, by Daniel Bergmann; Short-eared Owl, by Daniel Bergmann; Snow Bunting, by Daniel Bergmann;