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Iceland - Northern Lights & Winter Wildlife

Tour Code: ISL04

A 5-day winter break to west Iceland's Snaefellsnes Peninsula in search of Orca, wintering birds and the breathtaking Northern Lights.

dates & prices to be confirmed Land Only Price: £ SRS: £

Iceland’s west coast is home to stunning scenery, fascinating geological formations, and some wonderful winter wildlife! During this 5-day break we take in some of Iceland’s iconic scenery on the ‘Golden Circle’ tour, enjoy a whale-watching excursion to search for Killer Whales and other cetaceans, and look for seabirds such as Black Guillemot, Common Eider and Harlequin Duck. By day, we will also have an opportunity to see some of the wild and empty landscapes of west Iceland, keeping an eye open as we travel for one or two birds such as a lingering Whooper Swan or a party of wintering Snow Buntings. And by night, if there are clear skies, we will hope to enjoy the Northern Lights - dancing curtains of green and red light over a landscape of snowy mountains and dark fjords!

  • Stunning scenery: Gullfoss, Geyser and glacial-capped slopes of the Snaefellsnes Volcano
  • Look for pods of Orca (weather permitting), Snaefellsnes Peninsula
  • White-beaked Dolphins & flocks of seabirds including Gannets, Kittiwakes & Fulmars
  • Red-throated & Great Northern Excellent chance to see the Northern Lights (if there are clear skies!)
  • Led by expert naturalist guide


All included in the price.


Comfortable hotels; all rooms have private facilities.

Killer Whale

Killer Whale

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Keflavik; overnight Northern Light Inn

Day 2 'Golden Circle'; overnight Reykjavik

Day 3/4 Stykkisholmur

Day 5 Fly London

In the depths of winter, many holiday-makers journey south in search of some winter warmth and relaxation. We hope, however, that those with an adventurous spirit and the desire for a rather different, exciting winter break, might consider heading north instead — to Iceland, a land of volcanoes, bubbling mud-pools, waterfalls, glaciers and some surprising winter wildlife. If that isn’t enough to tempt you, the winter months also offer the best chance of witnessing nature’s most breathtaking light show, the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. On this short break, we will turn our eyes to the skies after dark each night in the hope that the Northern Lights will put on a display for us. On arrival, our tour leader will be happy to run a ‘camera clinic’, in order to ensure that any keen photographers in the group will be fully primed and ready, should the Aurora appear, to capture the event for posterity! Whilst we will be well placed for the light show, only ‘mother nature’ will decide whether or not a display will take place, with such factors as cloud cover and solar activity being out of Naturetrek’s control! We hope, however, that both will work in our favour and that during our short holiday in Iceland we will find ourselves mesmerised by dancing curtains of green and red light over landscapes of lava-fields, snowy mountains and dark fjords.

We begin our holiday with a short flight to Keflavik, Iceland’s international gateway, where we will spend our first night at the (hopefully, auspiciously named) Northern Light Inn. The inn is wonderfully situated — it is virtually next door to the famous Blue Lagoon, and within easy reach of some of Iceland’s most celebrated scenery, including the mighty Gullfoss waterfall, an erupting geysir (Strokkur), and the beautiful Thingvellir National Park. We will visit all of these sites before returning to Reykjavik, Iceland’s small, colourful capital for some sightseeing.

Next, we drive north to the dramatic Snaefellsnes Peninsula and the small attractive town of Stykkishólmur, our base for two nights. As the road threads its way through the wild and empty landscape of western Iceland, we will not only admire the scenery but also keep a look-out for birds such as Whooper Swan, a party of wintering Snow Buntings, or the occasional group of Harlequin Ducks — all risking life and limb in the shoreline surf. We will spend the next two days enjoying this beautiful coastline and its winter wildlife.

In recent years, large shoals of Herring have gathered during the winter in sheltered fjords off the rugged Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Whilst Herring attract a multitude of seabirds, and are the favoured prey of numerous cetaceans, by far their most formidable nemesis is the ocean’s top predator, the Killer Whale or ‘Orca’. Pods of Orca have been seen regularly in the Grundafjordur area over the past few years, feasting on the fish between the months of January and April. Sightings of Humpback Whales have also started to increase over the past couple of years and it is a rare privilege to watch these ocean wanderers at close quarters against a backdrop of spectacular scenery. So, if the weather permits, we’ll take a boat excursion on Grundafjordur one afternoon. White-beaked Dolphin are regularly spotted here, and both Common and Grey Seals inhabit these waters, while Kittiwake, Razorbill, Fulmar, Common and Black Guillemots, Northern Gannet, and both Red-throated and Great Northern Divers are among the birdlife we may see. Sightings cannot, of course, be guaranteed, and should the cetaceans prove hard to find, or conditions be unsuitable for sailing, we will instead turn our attention to the region’s magnificent scenery (which inspired Jules Verne’s ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’), as well as look for winter birdlife along this stunning coastline.

After a final night at Stykkishólmur, we retrace our route south, leaving the dramatic landscapes of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula behind us as we slowly return to the Rekjanes Peninsula and to Keflavik airport for our flight home.

Icelandic scenery (Peter Dunn)Kolgrafafjörður (Kerrie Porteous)Strokkur (Malcolm Stott)Path to plate boundary walk at Thingvellir (Charles Kinsey)Common Eider (Peter Dunn)Fulmar (Peter Dunn)Eider (Peter Dunn)Causeway Bridge (Malcolm Stott)Northern Lights (Malcolm Stott)Harlequin Ducks (Malcolm Stott)Naturetrek group ready for whale-watching (Peter Dunn)Mixed gull flockGlaucous Gulls (Peter Dunn)Northern LightsNorthern LightsOrca (Peter Dunn)Orcas (Peter Dunn)Glaucous Gull (Peter Dunn)Iceland Gull and Eider (Peter Dunn)King Eider with Common Eiders (Peter Dunn)Orcas (Peter Dunn)Fulmar (Peter Dunn)Fulmar (Peter Dunn)White-beaked Dolphins (Peter Dunn)White-beaked Dolphins & FulmarDawn at Stykkisholmur (Peter Dunn)Gannet (Peter Dunn)Iceland Gull (Peter Dunn)Orca (Peter Dunn)Orca from the road bridge (Peter Dunn)Exploring an area with steam vents (Charles Kinsey)Harlequin Ducks (Charles Kinsey)Looking out for Orcas (Charles Kinsey)Kolgrafafjörður (Kerrie Porteous)Orca (Alice Nicholson)Blue Lagoon (Alice Nicholson)Kittiwake (Peter Dunn)Northern Lights over Kolgrafafjordur (Malcolm Stott) 2Kolgrafarfjordur (Malcolm Stott)Orca in Grundarfjordur (Malcolm Stott)Aurora (Peter Dunn)Aurora (Peter Dunn)Sperm Whale (Peter Dunn)Orca (Peter Dunn)Sea-faring onesies (Peter Dunn)

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We will be running this tour in the near future but as yet have not finalised dates and prices. To register your interest and be added a waiting list to be informed when details are confirmed, please contact us or phone 01962 733051.

Visiting: Iceland

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