This document describes the trip Jan, Greet and Jeroen van Vianen have made to Iceland and Faroe Islands from 19 June 1993 - 17 July 1993. We decided to bring our own car to Iceland and took the ferry from Denmark. It was a good choice. Birds were not our only goal during this trip as we were also interested in nature as a whole and all the different landscapes and geothermal activities, like geysirs, lavafields, solfatores, hot springs, etc. We had never done a holiday like this before, but we liked it very much. We will probably visit Iceland again.

Some practical information

Prices and money

Iceland is a very expensive country, because many goods have to be imported. You should be prepared to spend about NLG 50 per person a day for cooking your own meal and camping only. Expect to pay at least double what you're used to at home. We knew what to expect and brought our own canned meat. It is wise to bring as many supplies as possible to help keep the trip expenses down, especially possible when you arrive by ferry.

100 Icelandic kronur (IKr)± NLG 3.00
100 Danish crowns (DKr)± NLG 29.80
Milk (1 l)IKr 67
Yoghurt (1 l)IKr 95
Bread (500 g)IKr 130-170
Cheese spread (250 g)IKr 167
Liver spread (125 g)IKr 157
Kiwi (1)IKr 16
Banana (1)IKr 25
Egg (1)IKr 25
Beer (0.33 cl)IKr 500
Kodachrome 64 slides, 36 exposuresIKr 1611, so bring plenty of film yourself
Diesel (1 l)IKr 23
Petrol (98 octane, 1 l)IKr 73

Note that cars with a diesel engine are required to pay a diesel tax which ammounts to ± IKr 3,000 per week for cars under 1,000 kg and ± IKr 3,600 per week for cars under 2,000 kg, etc.

Car rental is also very expensive. We heard of prices ranging from NLG 400 to NLG 800 a day for a 4WD vehicle.

Icelanders are plastic mad. Even for buying groceries they use a credit card (but keep in mind the prices). Eurocard and Visa are the most widely accepted ones.


Smyril Line operates the ferry MS Norröna once weekly between Esbjerg (DK) (no longer Hanstholm, as stated in many travel guides), Tórshavn (FR), Bergen (N) and Seyðisfjörður (IS). It leaves Esbjerg at 22:00 on Saturday and arrives at Tórshavn at 10:00 on Monday. There is an obligatory two-day stop-over at the Faroe Islands, because the ferry goes to Bergen and returns to the Faroes again on Wednesday 15:00. The ferry arrives at Seyðisfjörður on Thursday 07:00. It leaves Iceland at 11:00, arrives at the Faroe Islands on Friday 05:00 and arrives back in Denmark at Esbjerg on Saturday 19:00.

One way ticket Esbjerg to Seyðisfjörður in 4 cabin hut amounted to NLG 564 per person. One way ticket for the car amounted to NLG 472. Students can claim 25% discount. All prices are for high season.

Contact Smyril Line, Vester Farimagsgade 6, DK 1606 Copenhagen, Denmark for more information. We booked our ticket at Burger International Holiday Travel, Willemskade 16, 3016 DL Rotterdam, Netherlands.


The car we brought to Iceland was an eight-year old Volvo 340 Diesel. Never bring a new car to Iceland! That will always prove a pity. We used two tents, a Northface VE-25 and a Eureka Geo EMX-3, which proved sturdy enough to endure gale force storms. If you wish to camp too, be sure to bring a tent with a 4-season rating. We still wonder how the Icelanders themselves cope with a nice gale in their large bungalow tents. Also, at Vík, two tents were demolished in an 8 Bf gale.


Many tourists like to visit the interior part of Iceland, for example Askja and Landmannalaugar or want to drive the Sprengisandur route. Be aware that many roads are closed for all traffic (including 4WD) until mid July or even later due to snow and melt water rivers that are impossible to ford. Some tourists (with 4WD vehicles) we spoke had to change their itinerary because of this, and were mainly driving the ring road [1], just as we did (for which you don't need a 4WD vehicle). Average opening dates of some popular mountain tracks are:

Mountain trackOpening dates
Sigalda - Landmannalaugar [F22]4 July
Landmannalaugar - Eldgjá [F22]15 July
Skaftártunga - Eldgjá [F22]26 June
Askja [F88]25 June
Kverkfjöll [F98]27 June
Lakagígar11 July

The Public Road Administration publishes maps weekly indicating which parts of Iceland still cannot be travelled. These maps can be found at petrol stations and at the tourist information offices throughout the country.

Maps and literature

The map we used was Ferðakort ísland 1:500,000, published by Landmælingar íslands, which can be obtained from any good travel guide shop.

The main travel guide we used was Lonely Planet's Iceland, Greenland & the Faroe Islands -a travel survival kit by Deanna Swaney, ISBN 0-86442-092-7, which proved very good (as is any Lonely Planet travel guide (this is a plug)).

Bird books used include Tirions Vogelgids [The Shell Guide to the Birds of Britain and Ireland] by James Ferguson-Lees and Ian Willis, ISBN 90-5121-0604 and Vogels van de Noordatlantische & Arctische eilanden [Fugle i Nordatlanten] by Sören Sörensen, Dorete Bloch and Steen Langvad, ISBN 90-74345-03-4.

If you're lucky enough to see some mammals, a mammal guide will be handy, too!

Some notes on the sites


Mývatn is one of the best known and renowned birdwatching sites in Europe. It is the breeding ground for some 15 species of ducks, and the only one of Barrow's Goldeneye in Europe. It's also one of the best spots for Gyrfalcon, though we did not see any. From 15 May to 20 July the northwestern shore and wetlands are a protected nesting area, which means that off road traffic through the area is prohibited, not that it is not accessible.

There is one real nuisance, the midges (chironomids) and blackflies (simuliids), which gave the lake its name. The midges do not bite. The blackfly larvae are only found in the running water of the Laxá delta. Female blackflies bite humans and animals, but only outdoors. Hence in your tent or car you'll be rather safe. There are usually two generations of midges and blackflies annually, in June and August. The second half of July is relatively free of them, so plan your trip accordingly.

Camping around is not difficult, because of the many other interesting things to see and do in the area (consult any travel guide on Iceland).


Látrabjarg is the largest seabird colony in the North Atlantic. Europe's western most point, it is 12 km long and 40 to 440 m high. It is the largest Razorbill colony in the world and contains millions of sea birds. It can be reached by car, there is a parking place at Bjargtangar light house, from where the Puffins already can be seen. We could approach them here up to about one meter.

Getting to Látrabjarg requires some risky driving on the beach. You can also park your car in Hvallátur and walk the 5 or so km to the beginning of the cliff. Without your own vehicle you can take the Brjánslækur to Breiðavík Youth Hostel bus (three weekly) and ask the driver to drive you to Látrabjarg for an additional fee. In that case you may not be able to stay at the cliff as long as you wish.

Camping is possible on the beach, near the lighthouse, where basic facilities are provided.


This is a rather large lake 6 km east from Brjánslækur. It is part of the larger Vatnsfjörður National Park. It should prove a good spot for Gyrfalcon and White-tailed Eagle. We did not see these two species, but we did see 25 Harlequin Ducks there.

You can camp at the lakeshore.

Vík and Dyrhólaey

The birdcliffs of Vík and Dyrhólaey are easily reached by car. At Vík you can walk beneath the cliffs on the beach. At Dyrhólaey you can walk on top of the cliffs. It is possible to walk on the sandy peninsula between the two, but watch the tide if you want to return to Vík. Puffins here could not be approached as close as at Látrabjarg, because we saw they are collected by the local restaurant owner.

There is a camping site at Vík.

Skeidarársandur, Breiðamerkursandur and Jökulsárlón

Sandurs are (and I quote) the deposits of silt, sand, and gravel scraped from mountains by glaciers and carried by glacial bursts (jökulhlaups) and braided rivers to the shore. On these vast expanses (Skeidarársandur measures 1,000 km2) the largest breeding ground of Great Skua in the world can be found with an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 pairs. Many can be seen in the iceberg-lake Jökulsárlón along the ring road [1].

You can camp at Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Skaftafell N.P. or Höfn, and there are some other campsites in between as well.