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Iceland - Gyr Falcons & the Northern Lights

Tour Code: ISL02

A 5-day holiday to northern Iceland timed to offer the very best chance of enjoying the Northern Lights, as well as Iceland's winter wildlife and spectacular landscapes.

5 days from £1995(inc flights) Land Only Price: £1745 SRS: £220


The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, have been a source of mystery and wonder for thousands of years. To enjoy the Lights at their best we will position ourselves beneath the ‘Auroral Oval’, an expanse of atmosphere that sits over the Earth’s magnetic north pole, at the time of a new moon, close to an equinox … which we will do, so all we need is a clear night, and we should be able to sit back and enjoy one of nature’s most impressive spectacles! We’ll also visit Lake Myvatn in search of special waterfowl and other high-Arctic winter specialities, and no visit to Iceland is complete without a taste of its geothermal activities.

  • Pulsing green, blue & red glows & dancing patterns of the Northern Lights
  • Barrow’s Goldeneye, Harlequin Duck, Snow Bunting & Ptarmigan
  • Stay in scenic Narfastadir, under the flight path of a Gyr Falcon!
  • Glaucous & Iceland Gulls
  • Wintering sea-ducks near Husavik
  • Boiling mud pools, cinder cones, black lava fields & steaming fumeroles
  • Led by an expert naturalist guide

Food

All included in the price.

Accommodation

For the first night we stay at Hotel Kríunes on the outskirts of Reykajvik, then we transfer to the Hotel Myvatn for three nights, which commands a beautiful position overlooking the shores of Lake Myvatn. All rooms have private facilities.

Northern Lights (arctic-images.com)

Northern Lights (arctic-images.com)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Keflavik and overnight

Day 2 Fly Akureyri and transfer Myvatn

Day 3/4 Excursions from Myvatn

Day 5 Fly London

During the height of the Arctic summer the dramatic volcanic island of Iceland is bathed in 24-hour daylight. As the summer sun sinks lower in the sky, however, and winter’s icy grip gradually takes hold, the nights lengthen and heavens darken to reveal one of the natural world’s greatest spectacles, the ethereal flickerings of the Aurora Borealis, or ‘Northern Lights’. The Aurora has been a source of wonder and mystery for thousands of years and, although we now understand the science behind the spectacle, these mesmerising, other worldly lights still transfix all that witness them to this day.

To enjoy the Northern Lights at their best we must head north and position ourselves beneath the Auroral Oval, a ‘doughnut-shaped’ expanse of atmosphere that sits over the Earth’s magnetic north pole. This oval expands or contracts with the intensity of the solar wind, the stream of hot plasma ejected from the sun reacting with gas molecules in the upper atmosphere to create the light display itself. When solar wind activity is high, the Lights often take the form of dancing curtains which evolve and change continuously, each curtain consisting of many parallel rays lined up with the direction of the magnetic field. At other times it may take the form of a slowly pulsing green, blue or red glow in the sky. To stand the best chance of witnessing the very best of auroral displays we have based our tour in northern Iceland, not only because it lies further under the Auroral Oval, but because the weather is typically drier than in the south. Since there is also plenty of daylight at this time of year, we will spend our diurnal hours exploring the dramatic landscapes of northern Iceland, enjoying the winter birdlife and geothermal features of this geologically active island.

We begin our tour with a flight to Keflavik and one night at a comfortable hotel overlooking Lake Ellidavatn on the outskirts of Reykjavik, away from the city lights. The following morning we will take the short flight to Akureyri and drive east for a couple of hours to the beautifully positioned Hotel Mývatn which will be our base for the next three nights of the tour. Our hotel overlooks Lake Mývatn and offers a wonderfully open panorama from which to enjoy the Northern Lights. It is also on the flight path of the local Gyr Falcons! We will return here each evening to gaze upwards to the heavens in the hope that the skies will be clear and the Aurora on show. The Northern Lights can be active at any time after dark, but activity tends to peak around midnight. We can therefore expect late nights on this tour, but no compulsory early mornings!

During the daylight hours we will focus our attention on the scenic delights of north Iceland and the limited wildlife on offer at this time of year. Lake Mývatn (one of Iceland’s foremost birdwatching spots in the spring) is likely to be mostly frozen in February and March, but there will be areas of open water. Here we will be looking out for such ducks as Barrow’s Goldeneye, and perhaps a few wintering Whooper Swans or geese. Snow Buntings are often recorded around the lake shores, whilst a little further inland Ptarmigan are common. The winter landscape here is spectacular and we will stop frequently to take short walks and to admire the cinder cone of Hverfjall, the Psuedo-craters and the peculiar lava formations at Dimmuborgír.

Iceland sits astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and is geologically active. One of the most accessible pockets of geothermal activity is found at Námafjall and Krafla, a short distance from Mývatn. Here boiling mud pools and steaming fumeroles create an alien landscape of yellow sulphur deposits and swirling clouds of steam. These are in turn surrounded by vast black rocky lava fields, some of which erupted as recently as the 1980s. We will also venture north to the coast at Husavik in search of birds such as Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull and wintering sea-duck, including the beautiful Harlequin Duck.

Whilst we have done our very best to ensure that this tour is located to give the best chance of witnessing the Northern Lights, ultimately only ‘mother nature’ will decide whether or not the show will take place. Aurora or not, a journey around north Iceland during this season has much to offer and we are sure to return home transfixed, not only by the nocturnal light displays but also by the spectacular landscapes, wildlife and hospitality of this unique, and far-flung, corner of Europe.

Godafoss (Steve Byland)Whooper Swans (Phil Piper)Whooper Swan (Malcolm Stott)Barrow's Goldeneye (Malcolm Stott)Barrow's Goldeneye (Alan Bevis)Harlequin Duck (Steve Byland)Pair of Harlequin Ducks (Alan Bevis)Gyr Falcon (Malcolm Stott)Gyr Falcon (Malcolm Stott)Gyr Falcon (Peter Dunn)Northern Lights (Phil Piper)Northern Lights (Phil Piper)Northern Lights (Malcolm Stott)Naturetrek GroupLong-tailed Duck (Kerrie Warburton)Lava Stacks at Lake Myvatn (Kerrie Warburton)Lake Myvatn (Kerrie Warburton)Godafoss (Kerrie Warburton)Northern Lights (Weng Lim)Northern Lights (Stephen Woodham)Northern Lights (Steve Byland)Husavik (Kerrie Warburton)Gyr Falcon (Kerrie Warburton)Northern Lights (Phil Piper)Northern Lights (Phil Piper)Northern Lights (Phil Piper)Sulphurous landscape at Námafjall (Kerrie Warburton)Naturetrek clients at Námafjall (Kerrie Warburton)Northern Lights (Ann Miles)Norther Lights (Sue Brock-Hollinshead)Myvatn Nature Baths (Wendy Leppard)Ptarmigan (Wendy Leppard)Barrow's Goldeneye (Wendy Leppard)Black-headed Gulls & Common Eider (Wendy Leppard)Northern Lights (Wendy Leppard)Bubbling mud pools (Wendy Leppard)Gyr Falcon (Wendy Leppard)Black-headed Gulls & Fulmar (Wendy Leppard)Naturetrek clients around Myvatn (Wendy Leppard)Gooafos Waterfall (Charles McMaster)Harlequin Ducks (Charles McMaster)Harlequin Ducks 2 (Charles McMaster)Gyr Falcon (Charles McMaster)Myvatn Church (Charles McMaster)Snow Bunting perched (Charles McMaster)Snow Bunting (Charles McMaster)Myvan Sunset (Charles McMaster)Iceland landscape 2 (Charles McMaster)Fumerol (Charles McMaster)Geothermal river (Charles McMaster)Lake Myvatn Sunset (Charles McMaster)Eider Duck (Charles McMaster)Eider Duck train (Charles McMaster)Glaucous Gull (Charles McMaster)Long-tailed Ducks (Charles McMaster)Black Guilemot (Charles McMaster)Eider Ducks (Charles McMaster)Icelandic Horses (Charles McMaster)Walk to Lake Myvatn (Charles McMaster)Lake Myvatn frosted trees (Charles McMaster)Crater (Charles McMaster)Lake Myvatn Sunset (Charles McMaster)Tufted Duck (Charles McMaster)Red-breasted Merganser (Charles McMaster)Reykjavic Church (Charles McMaster)Reykjavic Harbour (Charles McMaster)Reykjavic Harbour (Charles McMaster)
Dr & Mrs C.
Cornwall
Another great trip. We were very impressed with Malcom as our guide and are considering a return trip in the summer next year.
M.S.
Cambridgeshire
I was most impressed by our tour leader, Malcom Stott, with his impressive knowledge of the area, his good humour and his great care and patience with me due to my age and hearing problems. He made sure I was able to thoroughly enjoy the whole experience.
S.J.
Derbyshire
Brilliant trip & the Northern Lights performed on cue!
H.C.
Dorset
A fascinating country, an excellent guide, very good food and accommodation.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Thu 8th February 2018 - Mon 12th February 2018

YES

£1995

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £1745 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tue 13th February 2018 - Sat 17th February 2018

YES

£1995

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £1745 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Iceland

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Tour Reviews

Another great trip. We were very impressed with Malcom as our guide and are considering a return trip in the summer next year.
Dr & Mrs C., Cornwall