Iceland

Iceland may not be known for its land mammals but it is astonishingly rich with birdlife and marine mammals.

When you think of a place on the planet with so much to see about heaven, an embodiment of nature in its rawest form, and a country birthed to the surface from the Earth’s core with stunning geological contrast, then you are probably thinking about Iceland. It is decorated with astonishing height from which descend the staggering waterfalls and depths, housing living volcanoes and geysers. 

Its landscape is pruned by creative forces of nature with a preference for glaciers with shuffling strides, black sand beaches, snow-capped mountains, and more. Iceland settles on the North Atlantic ocean and is occupied by a sparse human population which preserves its nature from human exploitation. To mention is the northern light which colors the sky in green, adding to the splendor too much for the memory. 

The Icelanders are predominantly happy people and it is not surprising to have it that way. It is a very peaceful place with a silent media presence and low crime rate. The cities are rendered in architectural masterpieces and churches like heavenly edifices dot the land. 

Every turn and step unveils beauty for the senses to behold and it is no wonder that it draws adventurers, explorers, tourists, and wildlife photographers from all corners and recesses of the world. It pleases me to share my experience on a wildlife photography trip to Iceland and the things you have to know if you do have plans to visit the country.

Table of Contents

Why visit Iceland for Wildlife photography

A brief moment on the sail from Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital and the largest city, set my foot on Lundey Island, a dwelling place to indigenous seabirds and ones that have come to pass the time around with their avian neighbors.

Puffins, like many other seabirds such as guillemots, fulmars and arctic terns, nest in the rocks in the Island. They have a white torso hinged within blackened feathers and they are gifted fish hunters with an expertise that betrays their harmless appearances. 

Most of the visitors who leave from Reykjavik Harbour to Lundey are on tour to see the playful Puffins as they stopover between May and September to pay homage to the Island before they continue their nomadic lifestyle.

The next destination on my list was Hornstandir nature reserve, a remote territory in Northern Iceland with a promise of awe to all nature enthusiasts. It hosts  large colonies  of seabirds which constitute a large part of the foxes diet and this makes the reserve the best place to have an intimate look at the Arctic foxes.

Within the cold tranquil air, the Arctic foxes have learnt to outwit predators with a camouflage provided by a thick white fur that blends with the surroundings. They are very observant and seem to be aware of their special place in the hearts of Icelanders. 

Apart from the potential effect of global warming on Arctic foxes,which is at most presently insignificant, wildlife photographers can be rest assured that they would be served a treat at the Hornstandir nature reserve.

Wildlife species to photograph in Iceland

Despite the limit imposed by the geography and climate of Iceland, it revels within the glory of rarities abundant in it. Iceland may not be known for its land mammals but it is astonishingly rich with birdlife and marine mammals. 

The wild mammals in Iceland include the Arctic foxes that are native to the land, reindeer, rabbits, minks, mice, rats and Polar bears that seldom travel on ocean Ice floes from Greenland. 

Whales, dolphins, seals and about 250 different species of fishes inhabit the Iceland marine world. 

The bird species in Iceland consist of the native birds and migratory birds summing up to a large conglomerate that makes ornithologists respond to the call of the wild.

There are not really any dangerous animals that can pose a threat to human exploration of the Icelandic wildlife. So, the country is a welcoming and safe haven for wildlife photographers.

The best time of the year to visit Iceland

If you are planning to visit Iceland make sure you check the restrictions and safety measures related to Covid-19 in the country and take your comfort and health conditions into consideration before travelling.

Iceland has a cool temperate maritime climate, however, the weather conditions fluctuate from time to time. Generally, it is best to visit Iceland between May to August which marks the summer warmest period. 

Considering the destination and the purpose of the trip such as the one for Puffin watching tour at Lundey Island, one may need to adjust to the breeding seasons for the birds which is between May and September. Within this period one will have the opportunity to experience the 24 hours daylight in the month of June.

Where to stay in Iceland for trips

With Iceland becoming one of the prime tourist nations it is good to have a budget and plan for accommodation.

Reykjavik

Reykjavik, the capital city, is most likely where you’ll commence and end your vacation. There are cheap and affordable hostels such as Loft Hi hostel, Reykjavik Downtown HI hostel, Kex hostel among others.

Luxury hotels, in case you’ve a high budget for accommodation, include 101 hotel, 41-A Townhouse hotel.

Reykjavik nightlife

Reykjavik is also one of the right spots to experience the nightlife in Iceland.

Keflavik

Next to Reykjavik on the list of places you can stay is Keflavik, which offers many hotel options, and it is about 20km to the famous blue lagoon. The cheapest hostels in Keflavik include Guesthouse Keflavik, Fit hostel.

How to get around in Iceland

Iceland is small compared to other European countries but that doesn’t mean it is always easy to navigate.

Transport links in Iceland include the airline, buses, rental cars and ferries to Islands. 

Icelandair and Air Iceland are the country’s international and domestic  airlines. Iceland air offers direct flight to Keflavik from Reykjavik. The domestic airline connects towns and small cities.

The buses connect Iceland’s main cities and towns . One of the prominent bus companies is the Reykjavik excursion which offers scheduled travel to destinations such as Hofn, Akureyri, Vik and the highlands. Tickets for the buses can be obtained online or at most tourist offices. 

Rental cars are  good if you want the added luxury of visiting places at your pace. You can have rental cars at affordable costs in local agencies such as Geysir, Cheap jeeps and SADcars .

Ferries are most essential when one of your destinations is an Island.

Is it safe to travel to Iceland

The Global finance magazine ranked Iceland as the world’s safest country in 2021.  The country is also known as one of the most tolerant countries in the world with very low crime rate and there is little to no politically inspired uproars and not at risk of terrorist attacks. a Iceland, is therefore, a safe place for explorers and wildlife photographers.

What to pack for a wildlife photography trip to Iceland

The list of things to be packed on a wildlife photography trip to Iceland may vary depending on the season. However, the place of a good camera on the list is not negotiable, others are accessories. The following are the accessory articles;

  • A Backpack: This is of utmost importance to other accessory items because it helps in holding different items together. It is good to be selective in terms of the type of backpack one chooses for the trip. The handles must not be metallic as this can strain the shoulders and cause pain.
  • Outer Shell Jacket: The weather in Iceland is relatively unstable. Therefore, it is wise to have an outer shell jacket to shield against the cold.
  • Breathable Shirts: They are indispensable and should be taken along while packing for the trip.
  • Hiking Shoes
  • Water Bottle:  
  • Camera: There’ll be several unforgettable experiences and sights and you’ll want to capture every single one of them. So, don’t forget to pack a camera. 
  • Universal Adapter: One can resort to this to recharge your gadgets.

Passport and Visa Information

For EU nationals passports are not required for 90 days free movement while for Nordic nationals, movements are allowed without restrictions.

For tourists from EU nationals, visas are not required if they are not staying longer than 90 days.  Tourists and citizens from nations such as Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden can visit without visa.

Other places to visit in Iceland

One cannot get to see all that is a must-see about Iceland because some features are time or season bound. However, there are notable places that are worthy of the popularity they command.

 

If you have no reason to add  Hofn, an Icelandic fishing town in the southeastern part of the country, to your bucket list, the sight of the gargantuan whales sells the place out readily as a tourist attraction. There are few places in the world that can offer such otherworldly drama of whales gleefully diving in their majesty in and out of the depths . 

 

The Latrabjarg cliffs is the largest seabird cliff in Iceland and also fits into the class of biggest bird cliffs in Europe. It represents one of the promontories and westernmost part of Europe. It is a great site for birding tours and wildlife photographers aiming to add some pretty seabirds into their galleries can do well to visit.

 

Another place to which tourists on different missions convene is at the Blue lagoon, which is about 20km from Keflavik. It is a steamy spot with a steadily warm  temperature that suits everyone who has taken the chance to dive in.  It serves as a place for relaxation and rejuvenation after a day trip . Being the most popular tourist attraction in Iceland, taking some snapshots there is symbolic of a memorable trip to Iceland.

My Suggested Itinerary for a Wildlife Photography Holiday in Sri Lanka

Columbo City

1-2 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Wasgamuwa National Park

5 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Kandy Beach Resort

2-3 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Yala National Park

5 Days

Sri Lanka is a montage of breathtaking sights and historic places and there’s just so much to take in. 

But it’s real beauty can not be seen from the city. Yes, Columbo is beautiful and it’s temples are well worth a visit but more  than a day or two and you’re just wasting value time with nature.

However, you can’t be in Columbo without visiting Viharamahadevi Park (formally Victoria park) and witnessing the Grey-headed flying fox bats which take up residency in the park in their hundreds.

Staying at the XYZ, you can grab a tuk-tuk for a around £1, to the parks entrance. Walk to the furthest point of the park and you’ll soon see these beautiful flying mammals up in the treetops. Dusk is the perfect time.

Helpful Resources

Now that we have all the information we need, it’s time to plan your wildlife photography holiday to Iceland!

Here are some helpful resources to help you get your trip started:

Flights: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Accommodation: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Home Stays: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Travel: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Travel Insurance: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Day Trips & Tours: Skyscanner and Expedia are the best places to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.
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