Eric Dinerstein William C. Young
Iceland Trip Report
20-25 August 2016
After hearing several friends' reports of their trips to Iceland, I'd been thinking I might like to go there myself some time in the next few years. When my birding friend Bill asked if I'd like to accompany him on the Iceland segment of his European trip, I figured Why not now?
This trip report will be more interesting to birders and nature nuts than to people who'd rather visit cities. We spent hardly any time in cities or even towns, touching them mostly to get through them, so this report doesn't contain a lot of commentary regarding cities.
Also, I keep detailed notes involving where and when so that I can geolocate my photos after the trip. I edited some of those out, but left others in so those interested in doing the math can get an idea of time spans between locations. Remember to reset your camera's clock on trips to other time zones!
We spent a Saturday morning looking at maps and birding notes found online and made from books, planning our route and making reservations for lodging and a rental car. The Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs stood out as something to see, but in the end they got ditched, as we only had four days total. Going out that far west into the Westfjords would have likely taken a whole day, making it too hard to get to Lake Mývatn in the northeast, which sounded like a good birding destination. We had also read that the roads to the bird cliffs aren't the best and it could be a tiring drive. If our later experience driving part of the Westfjords was any indication, it's very likely there are lots of dirt/gravel roads, and I think I read as much. So we plotted our route from Reykjavík and the Reykjanes Peninsula northward and around the Ring Road to Lake Mývatn and Ásbyrgi in the northwest. The return trip included a drive through the eastern portion of the Westfjords.
Here's a Google Map of the trip I made afterward. Since you can only include 10 points in a route, I didn't loop all the locations into the route, but you can see where we went.
I don't expect many people to want to slog through a whole 29-page trip report, and won't be disappointed if nobody does. This was written initially for me, as my journal during the trip, and then I enjoyed spending a day reliving my trip while I edited this for public consumption (more complete sentences and richer details). If you do choose to read it, I hope my writing style is enjoyable.
If you're a birder and only interested in reading what it was like for an American to bird in Iceland, you can skip to the last section, Birding Notes.
What you'll get out of this otherwise:
- My impressions and descriptions of the landscape, the road, different areas, and things encountered along our route
- Reviews of places we stayed and areas we visited
- Timestamps from location to location
- Some minor pronunciation guidance
- Birds seen at different locations
I hope this report helps others thinking about traveling to Iceland to make some plans, and gives those not planning travel a nice vicarious experience. Here we go!