Snæfellsjökull at sunset Venkatramana Temple Blocks of ice on Breiðamerkursandur beach Snæfellsjökull frozen peaks

North West Iceland’s Midsummer Birds and Landscapes Workshop

Highlights include…

  • Alpine flowers
  • Flatey Island
  • Snæfellsnes landscapes
  • Sea arches and sea stacks
  • Kirkufell Mountain
  • Flight to NW Iceland
  • Black beaches
  • Lava fields
  • Snæfellsjökull
  • Látrabjarg sea cliffs
  • Northwest Fjords
  • Puffins, Shags and Guillemots
  • Dramatic Sunrises and Sunsets
  • Iceland’s peak time for birds

Workshop Tutors

Our photographic tutor in 2017 will be Niall Benvie joined by Charlotte Benvie as host and organiser.

Introduction

Our creative workshop photographing birds in the Icelandic landscape will start at the end of May just three weeks before the summer solstice when the birdlife is at it’s most active and prolific. Our locations will concentrate on West and Northwest of Iceland including the northwest fjords and Látrabjarg, one night on the Island of Flatey, Breiðafjörður and four nights in magical Snæfellsnes. June is the very best time for capturing the multitude of birds that congregate and breed in Iceland at this time of year. Migrants have arrived and all are very conspicuous defending their territories. It’s magical to photograph when most other folks are asleep. Whilst there is an emphasis on birds, we will not neglect the landscape, it’s the perfect time for capturing both. There are twenty-four hours of daylight, alpine flowers are in bloom, carpets of purple Lupine stretch as far as the eye can see and the striking features of the Icelandic landscape are enhanced by hours of soft ambient light. This workshop is definitely suitable for both serious bird and landscape photographers, or a combination of both.

Brief Itinerary

This page is only a brief summary but it is accurate. The full information PDF will be online later summer 2017

Day 1: Arrival and Transfers to Hotel

Participants will arrive at different times in the morning and afternoon of Day 1. We will meet at 19:00 in the lobby of our first night hotel for introductions, a trip briefing and dinner. If participants choose to arrive a day early and require a hotel reservation in our group hotel please let us know when booking and we can arrange this.

Hotel Reykjavík

Day 2: Fly to Bíldudalur and NW Fjords

This morning we take the flight to Bíldudalur the North West fjords of Iceland. There are remarkable vistas if the weather is fine. From the tiny airport we will make our way to our beautifully located hotel next to its own beach and a short drive from Látrabjarg. We will photograph as appropriate en route. The area boasts massive superb wild fjord landscapes, sea cliffs serene pools and breeding birds crazy with hormones. Our approach to photography is very flexible and we will try to meet all the expectations of participants. We use two vehicles to aid the flexibility of our locations. We will concentrate on photographing birds in the landscape; our tutors will be helping you to do this in a creative way. They will also to make sure that you have a full grasp of the technical skills required for modern bird photography. Here is an article from the Icelandic Birding Pages on where to find birds in Iceland. During the times when we are not out in the field our tutors will be helping you to review and process images together with showing you examples of their own work for inspiration.Our hotel is family-run and conveniently situated about thirty minutes drive from the magnificent Látrabjarg, Europe’s largest bird cliffs. We will spend the evening exploring the local coast and pools just a short walk from the hotel.
Hotel Near Látrabjarg

Day 3-4: Látrabjarg and the Northwest Fjords

Over the next two days we will make the most of the long hours of daylight by exploring the best of what this area has to offer both in terms of birdlife and the unique landscape. We will concentrate on photographing birds in the landscape; our tutors will be helping you to do this in a creative way. The West fjords are a true Icelandic wilderness; they are an ideal place for spotting birds, arctic fox and other unique fauna in their natural habitats. Isolation has preserved the region in relatively unspoiled way. We will spend our two full days here exploring the area and making excursions to Látrabjarg. These vast cliffs are home to millions of birds, including Puffin, North Atlantic Fulmar, Guillemot and Razorbill. The cliff hosts up to 40% of the world population for some bird species for example the Razorbill. For many, the highlight of the cliff are the very tame Atlantic Puffin who actually breed at the lowest part of the cliff very close to where we park our vehicles. The landscape itself is wild and rich photographically. There are scenic remote churches, abandoned boats, pools, lakes and white sand beaches, a rarity in volcanic Iceland! Of all the beaches in NW Iceland, perhaps the most striking is Rauðisandur, meaning red sand. It is ten kilometres long, there are breeding birds, great rocks, an attractive waterfall and quite often superb abstract patterns in the sand.

Hotel Near Látrabjarg

Day 5: To Flatey Island

Following lunch we take a ferryboat from Brjánslækur across Breiðafjörður to the little Island of Flatey. The southern islands of Breiðafjörður Bay are teeming with a fantastic variety of bird life including the Common Shag, Glaucous Gull, White Tailed Eagle, Common Eider, Black Guillemot, Puffin and Grey Necked phalarope. Both the Common and Grey Seal have their main haul out on these islands and skerries. Our traditional, comfortable hotel is in the only small village on the island. It only opens May – July. The island has only one single road, which leads from the ferry dock to the so-called “old village”. This consists of some beautifully restored and painted old houses of the island’s original inhabitants. The cliffs are small, birds are everywhere and remarkably tame. There is an old harbour and a church built in 1926. The church’s interior is painted with scenes of the island life, made by a Catalan painter, Baltasar Samper in the 1960s in return for free accommodation when he was visiting the island. Whilst here we will have the opportunity to work together on our images and also see some inspiring presentations from the course tutors. Our meals will be very traditional with local produce cooked by our hosts. The Island is a truly magical place to relax and make some wonderful images.
Hotel Flatey

Day 6: Afternoon Ferry to Stykkishólmur

Following a full days photography on Flatey, we take the evening ferry to Stykkishólmur. We will have dinner on board. There is the chance of encountering some interesting birdlife en route. We will be passing very close to where the Sea Eagle nests and will hopefully catch sight of these magnificent birds. Once in Stykkishólmur we drive along the northern coast of Snæfellsness to our accommodation in Grundarfjörður. Maybe we we will be lucky enough to catch some lovely evening light around this beautiful location. Whist on Snæfellsness we will stay in a comfortable house where we will enjoy meals together that have been prepared and cooked by the lovely Charlotte. It has to be said that meals a la Charlotte are a real treat and her chocolates are to die for! Our base here is where we eat and hang out together. There will be time here to review, work on our images and enjoy some presentations both from our tutors and participants.
Guest House Grundarfjörður

Day 7-9: Birds & Landscapes Snæfellsness

There are many superb landscape photographic locations all around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. During our three days days based here, we will make decisions according to the prevailing conditions. Needless to say we have some remarkable spots up our sleeve, including some great sunrise and sunset places. These locations will include, fishing villages, sea stacks and arches, black beaches, green moss lava fields, volcanic craters and lakes, Snæfellsjökull (glacier) and Kirkjufell Mountain.

Birds are everywhere on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula at this time of year, here are a few of our probable locations:

Svörtuloft is a scenic spectacular bird-cliff teeming with birds on the far western tip of Snæfellsnes. It is very easy to photograph the birds from the cliff edge. Among species that live there are Kittiwake, Fulmar, Shags and Razorbill
Hraunsfjörður is a very atmospheric mini fjord in the rugged Berserkjahraun, there are many species living here in the summer, the location also boasts fabulous landscape that is quintessentially Icelandic.
Kolgrafafjörður is a rich place for birds, up to forty species have been seen here in the summertime and also a common spot to see Sea Eagles fishing.
Þúfubjarg is a lovely sandstone cliff on the south of the peninsula with very easy access. It is home to a large noisy Kittiwake colony, North Atlantic Fulmars Razorbills and Guillemots are quite common here too. When the sea is peaceful it is also possible to access this cliff from the bottom.
The area between Hellissandur and Rif is a bird-lovers’ paradise. The area has an area of shallow ponds that support many species and one of the largest arctic tern nesting areas in Iceland can be found here.
Hellnar is where we find lovely green boulders and a Kittiwake colony that is very accessible. Just along the track at the top of the cliffs going west are small pools where we will possibly find phalaropes.

Guest House Grundarfjörður

Day 10: Snæfellsness & Reykjavík

Today we will spend the morning on Snæfellsnes before leaving in the afternoon for the two and half hour drive to Reykjavík. In the evening we will go out for a celebratory dinner in the city.

Hotel Reykjavík

Day 11: Homeward Flights

Transfer to Reykjavík International airport and homeward flights.

What’s Included

  • 10 hotel nights
  • All meals
  • Transport and ferries
  • Domestic airport transfers
  • Internal flight to the North West

What’s not Included

  • International Flights
  • International airport transfers
  • Extra drinks and snacks
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Insurance

Complete Itinerary and Full Details

This page is only a brief summary but it is accurate. A full information PDF will be online later in the summer.

Joining arrangements and transfers

We will meet for the first time as a group on Day 1 at the hotel in Reykjavík 19.00 for introductions, a trip briefing and dinner together. Return Flybus tickets are not included in the price of this holiday and can be purchased at the airport when you arrive or online prior to your trip. The latter means that you will not have to queue and you can display the ticket either on your phone or have it printed as hard copy. When buying your Flybus ticket at the airport be sure to explain which hotel you want to be taken to. The journey into Reykjavík takes about forty five minutes and normally a further ten minutes from the BSI to our hotel.

Accommodation

We will be using a variety of accommodation. In Reykjavík we will stay in a 3-star hotel in the city centre. Out of Reykjavík we will stay for 8 nights in scenically situated accommodations chosen for their proximity to great birdlife and landscapes. On Flatey we stay in a comfortable, traditional hotel, (the only one on the island) and here we have twin or single rooms with shared bathroom facilities. The remainder of our accommodation throughout the trip all have private bathrooms. The price is based on two people sharing a room. If you would like a single room throughout then there will be an extra single supplement. The price is on our web site. If you choose to share, we will team you up with another guest of the same gender.

Food

In Reykjavík, Látrabjarg and Flatey we will eat dinner in local or hotel restaurants. Lunch will usually be a picnic. Breakfasts are always at our accommodation. In Grudarfjördur our guides will cook our food. Please ensure that you let us know on your booking form of any special dietary needs.