Iceland

Places you need to visit at Iceland

  • Snaefellsnes, is the rugged peninsula north of Reykjavik well known for it's beautifull coastline with seabird colonies.
  • Seljalandfoss, a beautifull waterfall in front of a cove just aside the highway 60 klm west of Vik.
  • Skogafoss, is a massive waterfall in the south, around 30 klm west of Vik, surrounded by green walls and with sunny conditions rainbows will appear.
  • Krysuvik is a active volcanic area 35 klm south of Reykjavik. Although it can be crowded it's worth to visit the site early of later on the day.
  • Vik, is the southermost point of Iceland with the most downpoor. Still it has fantastic coastal pillars and beaches and a good stay-over.
  • Jokulsarlon is the lake of the Vatnajokull glacier from the floating ice enters the sea. You haven't seen Iceland if you haven't visited this site. Surreal landscapes and high density of wildlife.
  • Dettifoss, is the most powerfull waterfall of Europe. It's not easy to visit but worth the drive. Best visited between 18h and 8h otherwise it can be crowded.
  • Krafla, is the volcanic area near Myvatn. With steam vents all over the place it's also a palet of colours a dream for a landscape photographer.
  • Myvatn, is the mosquito lake in the north-east of Iceland. It is the wildlife walhalla for birders and has some nice landscape scenery as well.
  • Godafoss is the largest waterfall of Iceland. Situated in the north just beside highway one. The area is also good for birding and good to combine with Myvatn. Like the other waterfalls best visited early or later at the day.

IJsland, Jokulsarlon

I visted Iceland in 2009 for two weeks (last week of May and first of June), for me the main target was to see and photograph the Harlequin Duck. Starting from Reykjavik the fist destination was Vik for three days. Vik has some fantastic coastal sceneries and nearby waterfalls. In the area I found my target bird in a nearby stream. Two males and a female which I could approach within 5 meters. In this stream a pair of Arctic Skuas landed beside me with a Whimbrell's egg. In the ponds Red-necked Phalaropes where foraging and on the cliff behind the village Puffins are breeding and in the small pines the subspecies of Wren can be seen.

Next was Jokulsarlon, the lake where the Vatnajokull glacier meets the ocean. Here large chunks of ice from the glacier float into the sea. The three days flew by and thousands of images needed to be sorted after every visit. The landscape is surreal and a dream for any landscape photographer. But here you can also find the highest density of Great Skuas and tame Eiders on the lake. With low tide hundreds of Arctic Terns are catching fish that are swimming from the ocean to the lake. These again attrack Littel Skuas which are trying to steel the eel from the terns.

Myvatn was on the agenda with the Laxa river for the Harlequin Ducks and Barrow's Goldeneye. Here Gyr Falcon hunts on the Ptarmigan and on the lake Common Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Slavonian Grebe and Great Northern Diver breed. Along the road you can spot Pink-footed Goose on the highlands and every lake as a pair of Whooper Swans. A visit to Detifoss and Godafoss has to be made and keep your eyes open for Arctic Fox, Merlin, Golden Plover and Snow Bunting.

The plan was to drive around but plans changed to spend more time at Jokulsarlon. In the gardens of the residence and nearby meadows you find Snipe, Redwing, Golden Plover, Whimbrell, Godwit and Redshank. This change into plans turned out to be a golden one. The light was even better and more birds had arrived.

Some tips for visiting Iceland: Try to visit outside the high season for birding the end of May and begin of June is the best, later the prices will rise as well as the number of tourist and the male Harlequin Ducks have moved to sea. Bring your sleeping bag and book an hostel with a bed only. You save quit a bit not paying for blankets and breakfast. Plan more days at a site because of the ever changing weather. Photograph during the night and sleep during the day. This way you get the best light and less tourist not disturbing you and the wildlife. Bring plenty of memory cards, tanks and batteries.