page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4
page 5
page 6
page 7
page 8
page 9
page 10
page 11
page 12
page 13
page 14
page 15
page 16
page 17
page 18
page 19
page 20
page 21
page 22
page 23
page 24
page 25
page 26
page 27
page 28
page 29
page 30
page 31
page 32
page 33
page 34
page 35
page 36
page 37
page 38
page 39
page 40
page 41
page 42
page 43
page 44
page 45
page 46
page 47
page 48
page 49
page 50
page 51
page 52
page 53
page 54
page 55
page 56
page 57
page 58
page 59
page 60
page 61
page 62
page 63
page 64
page 65
page 66
page 67
page 68
page 69
page 70
page 71
page 72
page 73
page 74
page 75
page 76
page 77
page 78
page 79
page 80
page 81
page 82
page 83
page 84
page 85
page 86
page 87
page 88
page 89
page 90
page 91
page 92
page 93
page 94
page 95
page 96
page 97
page 98
page 99
page 100
page 101
page 102
page 103
page 104
page 105
page 106
page 107
page 108
page 109
page 110
page 111
page 112
page 113
page 114
page 115
page 116
page 117
page 118
page 119
page 120
page 121
page 122
page 123
page 124
page 125
page 126
page 127
page 128
page 129
page 130
page 131
page 132
page 133
page 134
page 135
page 136
page 137
page 138
page 139
page 140
page 141
page 142
page 143
page 144
page 145
page 146
page 147
page 148
page 149
page 150
page 151
page 152
page 153
page 154
page 155
page 156
page 157
page 158
page 159
page 160
page 161
page 162
page 163
page 164
page 165
page 166
page 167
page 168
page 169
page 170
page 171
page 172
page 173
page 174
page 175
page 176
page 177
page 178
page 179
page 180
page 181
page 182
page 183
page 184
page 185
page 186
page 187
page 188
page 189
page 190
page 191
page 192
page 193
page 194
page 195
page 196
page 197
page 198
page 199
page 200
page 201
page 202
page 203
page 204
page 205
page 206
page 207
page 208
page 209
page 210
page 211
page 212
page 213
page 214
page 215
page 216
page 217
page 218
page 219
page 220
page 221
page 222
page 223
page 224
page 225
page 226
page 227
page 228
page 229
page 230
page 231
page 232
page 233
page 234
page 235
page 236
page 237
page 238
page 239
page 240
page 241
page 242
page 243
page 244
page 245
page 246
page 247
page 248
page 249
page 250
page 251
page 252
page 253
page 254
page 255
page 256
page 257
page 258
page 259
page 260
page 261
page 262
page 263
page 264
page 265
page 266
page 267
page 268
page 269
page 270
page 271
page 272
page 273
page 274
page 275
page 276
page 277
page 278
page 279
page 280
page 281
page 282
page 283
page 284
page 285
page 286
page 287
page 288
page 289
page 290
page 291
page 292

During the height of the Arctic summerthe dramatic volcanic island ofIceland is bathed in 24-hour daylight.As the summer sun sinks lower in the sky,however, and winter's icy grip graduallytakes hold, the nights lengthen and heavensdarken to reveal one of the natural world'sgreatest spectacles, the ethereal flickeringsof the Aurora Borealis, or 'Northern Lights'.The Aurora has been a source of wonderand mystery for thousands of years and,although we now understand the sciencebehind the spectacle, these mesmerising,other worldly lights still transfix all thatwitness them to this day. To enjoy the Northern Lights at their best wemust head north and position ourselvesbeneath the Auroral Oval, a 'doughnut-shaped' expanse of atmosphere that sitsover the Earth's magnetic north pole. Thisoval expands or contracts with the intensityof the solar wind, the stream of hot plasmaejected from the sun reacting with gasmolecules in the upper atmosphere tocreate the light display itself. When solarwind activity is high, the Lights often takethe form of dancing curtains which evolveand change continuously, each curtainconsisting of many parallel rays lined upwith the direction of the magnetic field. Atother times it may take the form of a slowlypulsing green, blue or red glow in the sky.To stand the best chance of witnessing thevery best of auroral displays we havecarefully timed this holiday to coincide witha new moon, to minimise light pollution,and, since the activity is generally higheraround the equinoxes, to run our final threetours in the early Arctic spring. In addition,we have based our tour in northern Iceland,not only because it lies further under theAuroral Oval, but because the weather istypically drier than in the south. Since thereis also plenty of daylight at this time of year,we will spend our diurnal hours exploringthe dramatic landscapes of northernIceland, enjoying the winter birdlife andgeothermal features of this geologicallyactive island. We begin our tour with a flight to Keflavikand one night at the Northern Lights Innwhich is located close to the famous 'BlueLagoon' geothermal pools and surroundedby rugged lava fields. The following morningwe take the short flight to Akureyri and driveeast to the beautifully positioned HotelM´yvatn which will be our base for the nextthree nights of the tour. Our hotel overlooksLake M´yvatn - far away from thedistracting lights of towns - and offers awonderfully open panorama from which toenjoy the Northern Lights. It is also on theflight path of one of the local Gyr Falcons!We will return here each evening to gazeupwards to the heavens in the hope that theskies will be clear and the Aurora on show.The Northern Lights can be active at anytime after dark, but activity tends to peakaround midnight. We can therefore expectlate nights on this tour, but no compulsoryearly mornings! During the daylight hours we will focus ourattention on the scenic delights of northIceland and the limited wildlife on offer atthis time of year. Lake Mývatn (one ofIceland's foremost birdwatching spots in thespring) is likely to be mostly frozen inFebruary and March, but there will be areasof open water. Here we will be looking outfor such ducks as Barrow's Goldeneye, andperhaps a few wintering Whooper Swans orgeese. Snow Buntings are often recordedaround the lake shores, whilst a little furtherinland Ptarmigan are common. The winterlandscape here is spectacular and we willstop frequently to take short walks and toadmire the cinder cone of Hverfjall, thePsuedo-craters and the peculiar lavaformations at Dimmuborgír. Iceland sits astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge andis geologically active. One of the mostaccessible pockets of geothermal activity isfound at Námafjall and Krafla, a short distancefrom Mývatn. Here boiling mud pools andsteaming fumeroles create an alien landscapeof yellow sulphur deposits and swirling cloudsof steam. These are in turn surrounded byvast black rocky lava fields, some of whicherupted as recently as the 1980s. We will alsoventure north to the coast at Husavik insearch of birds such as Glaucous Gull,Iceland Gull and wintering sea-duck, includingthe beautiful Harlequin Duck.Whilst we have done our very best to ensurethat this tour is located and timed to givethe best chance of witnessing the NorthernLights, ultimately only 'mother nature' willdecide whether or not the show will takeplace. Aurora or not, a journey around northIceland during this season has much tooffer and we are sure to return hometransfixed, not only by the nocturnal lightdisplays but also by the spectacularlandscapes, wildlife and hospitality of thisunique, and far-flung, corner of Europe.Iceland - Gyr Falcons &the Northern Lights 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. Friday 8th February - Tuesday 12th February Cost: £1,395Tuesday 12th February - Saturday 16th February Cost: £1,395Wednesday 6th March - Sunday 10th March Cost: £1,395Sunday 10th March - Thursday 14th March Cost: £1,395Friday 15th March - Tuesday 19th March Cost: £1,395Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking Information´´´ISAFJÖRDURKEFLAVIKTPINGVELLIRREYKJAVIKBLANDAHVITATHJORSÀLAGARFLIOTJÖKULSÀHUSAVIKAKUREYRIHUNAVELLIRMYVATNKRAFLAICELANDVATNA JÖKULL(ICE)SNAEFELLSNESPENINSULAOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Keflavik andovernight.Day 2Fly Akureyri and transferMývatn.Day 3/4Excursions from Mývatn.Day 5Fly London.AccommodationFor the first night we stay at theNorthern Lights Inn near Keflavikand then transfer to the HotelMývatn for three nights whichcommands a beautiful positionoverlooking Lake Mývatn. All roomshave private facilities. FoodAll included in the price.GradingA. Easy to moderate day walks. FocusBirds, Northern Lights and geology.LeaderMalcolm Stott.Single room supplement£150.Web quick search: ISL0281Northern Lights, IcelandGyr Falcon

Iceland lies at an avian crossroads! Themeeting place of Palearctic and Nearcticfaunal regions. Here we find the mostwesterly breeding grounds of both Wigeonand Pied Wagtail, and the most easterlybreeding populations of Great NorthernDiver, Harlequin Duck and Barrow'sGoldeneye. The variety of the island'sbirdlife may not be great, but many speciesare very much tamer here than elsewhere inEurope, and the sheer quality of Iceland'snorthern specialities has long attractedvisiting ornithologists. Mammals too, thoughfew, include Arctic Fox, Grey Seal and anexciting variety of cetaceans such asHumpback Whale, White-beaked Dolphinand Orca. Slightly smaller than England, slightlylarger than Scotland, Iceland holds apopulation of just 250,000 people. Whenyou consider that over half of these live inthe south-west corner of the country, youget some idea of the population density.Nearly all of Iceland lies south of the ArcticCircle - just! However, it is still far enoughnorth for us to benefit from as muchdaylight as we could wish for during thetime of our visit.We begin our holiday with a flight fromLondon to Keflavik, Iceland's internationalairport. From here we transfer to the capitalof Reykjavík to connect with the shortinternal flight to Akureyri in the north of theisland. Our drive east from Akureyri will notonly introduce us to Iceland's spectacularscenery and landscapes, but should alsoyield our first northern birds, includingPtarmigan, Redwing and Golden Plover. Wewill be based for the first three nights of thetour in the beautifully positioned NarfastadirGuesthouse, located in a wide valley full ofbreeding waders and within easy reach ofthe Lake Mývatn, Iceland's foremostbirdwatching site. During our stay, we willdevote at least one day to the explorationand appreciation of the birds of this greatlake, looking especially for Barrow'sGoldeneye and Harlequin Duck. Otherwaterfowl we usually see here includeWigeon, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Scaup,Pochard, Common Scoter, Long-tailedDuck, Red-breasted Merganser andWhooper Swan. We can also expect to seemany Ptarmigan near the roads, and havea good chance of seeing the splendid GyrFalcon. Additionally, we will be able toappreciate the spectacular geothermalactivity around the lake; in particular,awesome high-pressure steam vents andboiling mud! On another day we will drive north andeast to the sea at Husavík. Here, bothIceland and Glaucous Gulls are generallypresent, and we will see the catches ofCod being laid out to dry on traditionaldrying racks. From here we will take awhale-watching trip. Minke Whales arenearly always seen, and frequently one ormore species of dolphin. On our last day inthis area we will travel west to Blönduósthrough beautiful valleys where we will bekeeping an eye open for Gyr Falcon.From the north-eastern corner of Iceland wenow drive west to the dramatic landscapesof the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. From ourbase in the attractive town of Stykkishólmurwe will head to the western-most point of thepeninsula to view one of Iceland's largerseabird colonies, home to Kittiwakes, Fulmarand no less than five species of auk,including the much sought-after northernspeciality, the Brünnich's Guillemot. This isalso a good area to look for the elusiveArctic Fox. En route we will pass the hugeshield volcano, Snaefellsjokull, the doorwayinto the planet's interior chosen by JulesVerne for his book 'Journey to the Centre ofthe Earth'. If time permits, there may also bethe opportunity to take a boat out fromStykkishólmur in search of seabirds,cetaceans and the magnificent White-tailedEagle.We next turn south for our final two nightsin south-west Iceland. We will be based inthe Northern Lights Inn, located on theReykjanes Peninsula close to the famousBlue Lagoon geothermal pools. From herewe will explore Iceland's 'Golden Circle',starting with a visit to Thingvellir, Iceland'sancient parliament which overlooksThingvallavtn, the island's largest lake.Thingvallavtn is home to Harlequin Duck,Barrow's Goldeneye, Red-throated andGreat Northern Divers, Whooper Swan andwonderfully confiding Red-neckedPhalaropes. Thingvellir is also of interest tothe geologist, for it sits astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the great cleft in the Earth'scrust that separates the Eurasian tectonicplate from the North American plate. Thejunction is marked by two series ofconspicuous parallel fault lines and sheerbasalt cliffs, separated by a wide sunkenvalley a kilometre or two in width. During our time exploring the 'GoldenCircle' we will visit the very best of thesevolcanic and geothermal landforms. Thesewill include Geysir, home to the original'geyser' (now sadly dormant), and othermore active geothermal spoutings and hotsprings, plus Gullfoss (the Golden Falls), aspectacular double cascade of meltwaterpopularly considered the most beautifulwaterfall in Iceland. Birds and other wildlifewill play an important part even on ourmore geologically focused excursions.Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Snipe andother waders all breed around Thingvellir,whilst down on the coast, past the mightywaterfall of Selfoss, we hope to find bothCommon and Grey Seals. Finally, after a thorough exploration of the'Golden Circle' and Reykjanes Peninsula,we must sadly make the short journey toIceland's international airport at Keflavik tocatch our return flight home. IcelandA 9-day holiday amongst dramatic scenery in search of the breeding birds (plus whales and other mammals) of this wild and beautiful land.Sunday 19th May - Monday 27th May Cost: £1,795(This tour can be combined with our 'West Greenland - Bowheads, Icefjords &Glaciers' cruise outlined on page 270)Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Akureyri, viaKeflavik. TransferNarfastadir. Day 2/3Excursions from Mývatn.Day 4Blönduós.Day 5/6Stykkishólmur.Day 7/8Keflavik and the 'GoldenCircle'.Day 9Fly London.Accommodation Comfortable hotels throughout,each with private facilities.FoodAll included in the price, except forevening meals (allow approximately£40 per day).GradingA traditional birdwatching tour,including plenty of gentle walkingexcursions. Grade A/B.FocusBirds, whales and geothermalactivity.LeaderMalcolm Stott.Single room supplement£295.ExtensionsArranged on request, with orwithout car rental. Web quick search: ISL0182Call now or visit your free Trip Itinerary´´BLÖNDUÓS´ISAFJÖRDURKEFLAVIKTHINGVELLIRREYKJAVIKBLANDAHVITATHJORSÀSKJALFANDAFLIOTLAGARFLIOTJÖKULSÀSEYDHISFJÖRDURHUSAVIKAKUREYRIHUNAVELLIRMYVATNDETTIFOSSICELANDVATNA JÖKULL(ICE)STYKKISHÓLMURSNAEFELLSNESPENINSULAGullfoss Harlequin Duck