A tremendous long-weekend in the land of ice and fire in winter, which begins in October at this northerly latitude. See Gyr Falcon, Harlequin Duck, Barrow's Goldeneye, White-tailed Eagle, Ptarmigan in white plumage, chance of Brunnich's Guillemot, Little Auk and more in a very relaxed setting. PLUS we hope to see the awe-inspiring aurora borealis, or northern lights, an experience never to be forgotten! Glaciers, geysers, volcanoes, lava fields, waterfalls….. we travel to some of the best sites in south west Iceland, accompanied by our friend Trausti, a very knowledgeable and experienced naturalist/guide.
Enjoy your complimentary pre-flight overnight hotel before your holiday begins. Full details from our office!
Day 1: Arrival
After relaxing in our complimentary airport lounge, we arrive in Iceland and transfer to our en-suite accommodation in the magnificent countryside of South Iceland. We'll call at some coastal locations on the way as we look for Iceland Gull and other wintering seabirds. Later, there's always the chance of seeing an auroral display.
Day 2: Where Europe meets America – Þingvellir, Gullfoss and Geysir
With around seven hours of useful daylight we have plenty of time to fill our day. Today begins with Gullfoss, considered by many to be Iceland's finest waterfall. Nearby is the famed Geysir after which all geysers are named. A dynamic gusher erupts every few minutes to a height of 30 metres. We then explore Þingvellir National Park, where for centuries the early parliament met in the open-air. The area is geologically fascinating with countless fissures and ravines bearing witness to the forces at work below the earth's surface. There may be some Barrow's Goldeneye on nearby lakes and streams, and we'll also be searching for White-tailed eagle and Gyr Falcon. Again, if weather conditions allow, we'll hope to witness a display of the northern lights.
Day 3 & Day 4: Waterfalls, glaciers and the dramatic coastline of South Iceland
We’ll travel over vast glacial outwash plains to reach the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. On the coast nearby we'll look for Harlequin Duck, which winter at sea, as well as Glaucous and Iceland Gull, Grey and Common seal, and anything else that's trying to find food during the Icelandic winter. The coastline is spectacular and we'll also learn about the vigourous geology of this part of Iceland as we visit a headland created by a submarine volcanic eruption in the past. Again, if weather conditions allow, we'll hope to witness a display of the northern lights this evening.
Day 5: Reykjanes
We travel to the Reykjanes peninsula for some more coastal birdwatching (if time allows) — Harlequin, Eider and the chance of Little Auk. We should also find over-wintering Whooper Swans and we'll search for Ptarmigan, resplendent in white winter plumage. Later we’ll travel to the airport for our afternoon flight to London.
More Holiday Information:
Accommodation is in a comfortable hotel or guest house with all rooms en suite,
Food Breakfast is surprisingly good given the limited availability of local produce. Cereals, Cold meats and cheese are usually offered, with ample bread and preserves. Fruit juice and tea or coffee are also usually available. Evening meals are generally local dishes, which are good but often quite simple. Chicken, fish and very lean lamb are common. Picnic lunches are included.
Walking is not strenuous. Leisurely walking, very occasionally over moderately rough terrain, is the only physical requirement.
Weather We hope for beautiful, cold, clear arctic conditions, but be prepared for wind, snow, sleet or rain! We will be spending time on windswept coasts; it is therefore vital to have suitable clothing and equipment. The temperature can change quickly, so layered clothing is recommended.
Insects biting insects are not expected.
Group size is restricted to 12 clients maximum.
Flights are by scheduled airline, from London. We may be able to offer flight arrangements from another airport and/or or quote without flights so you can make your own arrangements. If you wish to add an extension either before or after your holiday, please contact us and we will be happy to arrange this for you.
What's included in your holiday price:
* scheduled return flights between London and Keflavik, airport taxes,
* ground transportation as outlined including all transportation in Iceland in winterized 4x4 vehicle,
* accommodation and all meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner.
* the services of your leader.
* The Heatherlea Pre-Flight Service offers everything you need at the airport, including hotels, car parking, airport lounges, regional flights, and upgrades. Let Heatherlea take the strain! Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge included free of charge subject to terms and conditions.
What's not included in your holiday price:
* personal insurance, drinks and other personal expenses, optional tips, and any other costs not specified as 'included'.
Trausti Gunnarson is a very experienced wildlife guide, and has led many Heatherlea Groups in his native land. A very popular guide, he is known for his sense of humour, birding expertise, endless patience and in-depth knowledge of all things ranging from the Classics to Geology to English idioms.
WHY CHOOSE HEATHERLEA?
Our overseas holidays are planned with care to offer great birding and wildlife, led by capable Leaders who really look after you. Every holiday is run the 'Heatherlea Way', and we hope our Overseas Adventures remind you of the quality and care so many of you enjoy in Scotland. That means rewarding and exciting days in the field, and good quality accommodation and meals, with a real flavour of the country we are visiting. Heatherlea always seek to include the personal touches that make all the difference.
Heatherlea holidays are not ‘dawn to dusk’ expeditions. Our less-intensive approach is ideal for those who want to relax whilst experiencing the best wildlife watching, and wherever possible we organise early or late activity on an optional basis. We also take sensible breaks when in very hot places and regular comfort breaks on every holiday whenever possible. All itineraries are planned carefully around the best wildlife opportunities, and you won’t miss out on memorable wildlife, whilst enjoying relaxed, informal days that are great fun.
The really important part of any wildlife holiday is the experience for you, our valued customer. Heatherlea invest in many things to offer you the best possible service;
* We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for 27 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
* Heatherlea overseas holidays have a maximum of 12 clients per trip, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
* Our holidays often include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance Departure Taxes and tips to hotels.
* All elements of our holidays are sold under our own licence, ATOL 6113. Under ‘Flight-Plus’ legislation it is a legal requirement of any tour operator to hold an ATOL licence for the supply of any overseas holiday where a flight is involved, if that holiday includes either overseas accommodation and/or car hire. It can be a criminal offence for an operator to book flights as part of a package without an ATOL licence. Heatherlea also hold full Tour Operator Insurance for your added protection.
* Heatherlea is your complete wildlife holiday provider. Our ‘Back Office’ team can organise all your pre-flight and other travel needs. Our specialists will help you book the right services, at the best price. Book holiday extensions through us, and your ATOL protection is extended further. We don’t charge extra for this service.
* Heatherlea is a limited company, registered in Scotland, and registered to pay VAT (applies to all holidays within the European Union).