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Iceland Wildlife and Nature Holidays

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Wildlife and nature form an integral part of the many of holidays to Iceland, where rugged natural beauty is complemented by wonderful bird watching and whale watching opportunities. You’ll find plenty of wildlife along Iceland’s 5,000km of coastline.

From May to mid-July its distinctive cliffs are stacked with nesting sea birds. In the West Fjords the towering cliffs of Latrabjarg, which are almost 14km in length, are home to Iceland’s largest concentration of sea birds including puffins and kittiwakes. Seals haul out on rocky islets and if you’re lucky, you might spot a whale or two from the shore. For the best chances, sign up for whale watching boat trip to look for minke and humpback whales as they gather to feed in the fjords.

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The island’s unpolluted rivers and lakes are a magnet for abundant wildfowl. Lake Myvatn, with its sensational summer bird watching, boasts rarities such as Barrow’s goldeneye, harlequin duck and great northern diver.

Husavik is known as the ‘whale watching capital of Europe’ while the Snaefellsnes Peninsula offers the chance to combine orca watching with searching for the northern lights.

We offer a selection of wildlife and nature holidays with a specific focus on wildlife encounters, or we can tailor make a wildlife and nature holiday entirely around your interests. Whether you join an escorted tour accompanied by an expert guide, or explore on your own self drive adventure, we’ve got the perfect holiday to tempt the nature lover in you.

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When is the best time to see orcas in Iceland?

In search of winter shoals of herring, large pods of orca patrol the western shores of Iceland during February and March. Whale watching boat trips are available from the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, and you can sometimes see the killer whales driving their prey close inshore. At this time of year, birdwatchers will also be captivated by the sight of huge rafts of wildfowl – such as eider and harlequin ducks – speckling Iceland’s fjords and sheltered bays.

May to September is peak season for whale watching in Iceland when up to 20 species of cetaceans (including humpback, minke and blue whales) can be spotted on boat trips from Reykjavík and Husavik.

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When is the best time for birdwatching in Iceland?

The official harbinger of spring in Iceland, golden plovers arrive to nest during late March – but spring also brings numerous other bird species. Birdwatching highlights include the arrival of thousands of pink-footed geese from the UK, but it’s the puffin that most visitors want to see. Around two- to three-million pairs nest on sea cliffs and islands around Iceland between April and August. Key sites for close-up encounters include Heimaey in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago, Látrabjarg in the far west of Iceland and Borgarfjordur Eystri in the east. Spring flowers are another welcome arrival, with Arctic poppy, mountain avens and harebell speckling mountain slopes and gravel plains throughout Iceland.

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