Circumnavigation of Iceland: Jun 01—12, 2017
Aboard the Ocean Diamond
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An early summer voyage to beautiful Iceland is headlined by dazzling North Atlantic wildlife spectacles and amazing geology infused with rich Icelandic history.
Active seabird colonies assault one’s senses with sound and spectacle unique in the natural world, and Iceland offers some of the finest. The excitement of a North Atlantic seabird cliff, combined with an understanding of regional geologic processes, underscores the joy of cruising the wild coasts of Iceland and surrounding islets.
Iceland’s position immediately south of the Arctic Circle astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge places the island in a fascinating region both biologically and geologically. The scenery is simply spectacular, yet with daily position changes both the scene and the birding bring surprise and wonder. Home to the world’s largest Atlantic Puffin colonies, as well as impressive colonies of Northern Gannet, Northern Fulmar, and Black-legged Kittiwake, Iceland offers a unique chance to encounter these species intimately while also enjoying its legendary geysers, waterfalls, glaciers, rugged coast, and fascinating history.
Cruising aboard the luxurious Ocean Diamond, a 175-passenger stabilized adventure cruise ship, we will enjoy the wide diversity of North Atlantic birding as we travel Iceland’s wild uplands, lakes, cliffside seabird colonies, and nearshore waters. Specialties such as White-tailed Eagle and Gyrfalcon are resident, although widely dispersed, while European Oystercatcher, Eurasian Golden-Plover, Common Redshank, and Black-tailed Godwit are shorebirds likely encountered on our overland expeditions. Mývatn Lake in the north is a renowned waterfowl-viewing venue where alluring species such as Whooper Swan, Barnacle Goose, Tufted Duck, and Barrow’s Goldeneye occur among other breeding birds. Great Skua and jaegers compete with Northern Fulmars and Northern Gannets for our attention at sea, and we’ll scan for European Storm-Petrel, Razorbill, and other alcids while Iceland Gull and European Herring Gull are expected among the more common Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed gulls. Ashore, meanwhile, White Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Redwing, and Snow Bunting are common.
WEBINAR: With Victor Emanuel & Barry Lyon, October 5, 2017
Our stop at Grimsey, an islet just off Iceland’s north shore, is a special treat on this tour. Grimsey offers an iconic group photo-op at a sign defining the Arctic Circle, but Atlantic Puffins are the major attraction at close range from our clifftop vantage points. The port at Heimaey, an island just southeast of Reykjavik, is noteworthy for its dramatic survival of a 1973 lava flow, a flow covering part of the town before stopping just short of closing the harbor. Island residents have an especially endearing holiday every August when the children scamper about town every night, rescuing fledgling Atlantic Puffins that have been confused by the lights of town on their inaugural flights from the surrounding cliffs’ nest burrows. The children and their parents collect the “pufflets” in boxes, releasing them at water’s edge in early morning. Our adventures on Heimaey will include thousands of puffins and other birds as we explore the island and enjoy the lovely fishing village adjoining the port.
Few trips to Iceland offer the thoroughness of this expedition, circumnavigating the entire island with multiple landings on all sides and key offshore islets, along with a tour of the famous “Golden Circle” of Iceland’s most scenic attractions.
Accommodations and meals aboard a very comfortable small cruise ship; Zodiac shore excursions on many days; good weather expected with rough seas possible.