Iceland: Focus on the Birdlife & Natural Landscapes

Tour Intro

Sponsored by Houston Audubon Society

This eleven-day tour exposes the adventurous traveler from the diverse landscape, to the puffin colony region at the most western point of Iceland, Latrabjarg. Together with the intense colors of the rapidly changing landscape, and the varied wildlife, this beautiful land is certain to make every photographer’s heart jump! The traditional theme and image of Iceland has been ice and fire, but it is much more than that. Mother nature has painted a magnificent tapestry of colors with geological phenomena unmatched elsewhere in the world. Inexorably intertwined with this exotic natural environment are the 280,000 Icelanders, who along with their Nordic and Celtic ancestors have called this North Atlantic Island their home for over 1100 years. While living mostly along the coast, over one-third of the residents live within a 20-kilometer radius of Reykjavik, the capital city.

Experience the vast volcanic landscape, breathtaking glaciers and waterfalls, and hardy Viking hospitality that have been celebrated for centuries in Icelandic sagas. On this unique expedition, view towering volcanic pillars, hike to stunning waterfalls, and languish in ancient geyser springs. From the capital city to remote farms on the tips of exposed fjords, Iceland is picturesque, including some features of the moon surface. Volcanoes, hot springs, and glaciers influence the look and feel of the country. At every turn, the vistas will astound you. Join us on this exploratory adventure of one of our planet’s most fascinating and unique environments.

Your Tour Leaders
Kathy Adams Clark is a professional nature photographer and owner of a stock agency representing fifteen photographers. Her work has been published in a variety of national and regional publications including National Geographic Books, The New York Times, and Sierra. Kathy teaches over fifty photography workshops and classes each year. Her work is seen each week in the Houston Chronicle's “Nature” column, written by her husband, Gary.

A lifelong naturalist, Gary Clark has studied birds, mammals, and butterflies in North, Central, and South America and in East Africa.  He is an award winning professional writer whose column “Nature” appears weekly in the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express News.  He has authored feature articles in state and national magazines and has written six books that include photographs from his wife, Kathy.  He frequently conducts birding workshops and leads birding tours.  He is founder of the Piney Woods Wildlife Society of Texas, former president of the Houston Audubon Society, and former vice-president of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory.  Gary is a full professor at Lone Star College. 

If you are already an accomplished photographer or birdwatcher, they will get you to the good locations, at the right times, and set you free. However, if you want help, they will provide as much instruction as you want. While there are specific itineraries, they allow time for "unscheduled" stops for opportunities found along the way.

Tour Highlights

• Expertise of local Icelandic guide, knowing the needs of bird photography groups.
Skaftafell National Park and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.
• Internal flight included to the West fjords, providing you with more time to capture the beaches, waterfalls and the diverse birdlife of Iceland.
• 11 days with accomplished photo tour leader Kathy Adams Clark & naturalist Gary Clark.
• Tour limited to 12 fellow photographers.

Tour Itinerary

June 3: Home
Birdwatcher

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Iceland

Your journey to Iceland begins with an overnight flight, arriving early morning on June 4, at Keflavik Airport outside Reykjavik, Iceland.

June 4: Reykjavik
Puffin

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Iceland

After a very early arrival in Keflavik Airport, your local guide will meet you and start the tour driving to the city of Reykjavik. After leaving your bags at the hotel, the group will depart with camera gear and clothing to protect you from the elements at sea. A private boat ride has been arranged for the group to photograph puffins and other bird and marine life. Return to the hotel for a lovely welcome dinner and a chance to prepare for your departure tomorrow. Overnight Hotel Hilda. (D)

June 5: West Fjords
Harlequin Duck

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Iceland

The best-kept secret of Iceland is the Westfjords. This part of Iceland is an unspoiled pearl, shaped of deep fjords and steep mountains. The Westfjords are Iceland’s most sparsely populated region apart from the highlands. There, life means seabirds on rugged cliffs, Arctic foxes in their lairs, and little fishing villages huddled against sheer mountains where for centuries, people have battled with the forces of nature to harvest the ocean’s riches.

This morning you can enjoy an optional early morning photo walk along the city streets of Reykjavik with Kathy, and then depart for the local domestic airport for a noon flight to Bildudalur in the West Fjords. Upon arrival you will have an afternoon photo shoot at Latrabjarg Cliffs. Contrast abounds in the Westfjords, at Latrabjarg cliff; land meets sea head-on at the 400-meter sheer cliff, the westernmost point of Europe and one of the world’s biggest seabird colonies. Just west is Bjargtangar, where we can watch the Puffins and view the largest Razorbill colony in the country. An impressive mountain road leads us down to the wide-open golden-red beach of Raudasandur, deriving its name from the reddish looking scallop shells, where seals are often seen. Overnight Fosshotel Vestfirdir (B, L, D) *Please note the majority of lunches will be picnic lunches so that we can enjoy full days of photography and nature study in the field.

June 6: Lindakradalur Valleys
Iceland Landscape

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Iceland

Drive east today through the West Fjords, with photographic stops along the way to your accommodations for the evening in a guest farmhouse. One photographic stop given time will be Dynjandi Falls, or other beautiful photography in this immense landscape of the West Fjords. Overnight Gauksmyri Farmhouse (B, L, D)

June 7-8: Lake Myvatn
Lake Myvtan

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Iceland

Driving further east this morning, leave the Northern fjords passing Akureyri and over to the spectacular Godafoss Falls, ending the day in Lake Myvatn (Midge Lake). The ice-blue Skalfandafljot River tears through horseshoe-shaped basalt canyons busting into a pair of cataracts. The largest of these being, Godafoss, known as the Waterfall of the Gods. We will take hikes to either side of these breathtaking falls, offering tremendous views and places to photograph.

Lake Myvatn, located in the rugged Myvatn desert, is Iceland’s best-known natural wonder with pseudocraters, dark lava castle formations, steam vents, hot springs, mud pools, volcanoes, and brilliantly colored mountains. It is also known for its rich and diverse birdlife, particularly ducks, and other water birds. Fourteen species of duck breed here at a density virtually unmatched anywhere in the world. There are hiking trails near the lake with two bird blinds on opposite sides of the lake.

We will photograph the otherworldly region of craters, towering volcanic pillars, and boiling mud pots along the lakeshore. Dimmuborgir is comprised of a vast field of towering volcanic pillars, while Namafjall is streaked in gray gypsum, yellow sulfur deposits, and evil smelling blue-gray belching mud pools. It is essential to follow boardwalks and guide ropes keeping a safe distance from the 200°C pots. Perhaps we will end the day on a quieter note at the crystal clear blue waters of the Lake Myvatn natural baths (unlike the Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik which is man made), with an optional swim or spa treatment. Overnight Reynihlid (B, L, D both days)

June 9: Eglisstadir

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Iceland

This morning, we take a last look at the volcanism of the Myvatn area, including the recent lava of the "Krafla fires" of 1975-1984. We travel east through the desolate highlands, to Egilsstadir, and then on to view the East fjords. Borgarfjordur East, also known as Bakkagerdi, is an isolated community of just 120 people, overlooking a wide fjord. Backed by mountains, it is a charming location steeped in local lore.  Eyvindara Guesthouse (B, L, D)

June 10-11: Jokulslaron Glacier Lagoon
Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Iceland

Continue south to the picturesque Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, where we will take a tour to capture the Ice in the Lagoon. Another day in this region is devoted to exploring the hidden gems, and favorite places of our local guide. Overnight Hotel Hali (B, L, D both days)

June 12-13: Skaftafell - Vik
Vik Church

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Iceland

We start the next day heading west, visiting Skaftafell National Park, founded in 1967; this was Iceland’s first National Park founded purely for its nature. We will be passing Vik Village, and with a photo stop at Dyrhólaey. We will take a tour to Ingólfshöfði, which is an isolated headland between black sands and the Atlantic Ocean, with thousands of nesting seabirds, especially puffins and the great skua. After spending the morning there we will have the chance to visit some of your guides favorite photographic locations. Overnight Hotel Katla (B, L, D)

June 14: Reykjanes Peninsula – Home
Snow Bunting

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Iceland

This morning depart with photography stops along the way, returning to Keflavik International Airport for late afternoon flights home. (B)

Photo Leader

Kathy Adams Clark
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Kathy Adams Clark

Kathy Adams Clark is a professional nature photographer and owner of a stock agency representing thirteen photographers. Her work has been published in a variety of national and regional publications including National Geographic Books, The New York Times, and Sierra. Kathy teaches over fifty photography workshops and classes each year. Her work may be viewed weekly in the Houston Chronicle's “Wonders of Nature” column, written by her husband, Gary.

Kathy enjoys traveling with people new to photography as well as with folks with advanced skills. She has an ability to explain complicated photographic terms in easy-to-understand language. She likes to teach those hungry for new information but also understands that photography can be a solitary task. Each person traveling with Kathy is treated as an individual, but the group always has fun.

Kathy is an accomplished naturalist as well as a photographer, skilled in 35mm film and digital cameras. She is very passionate about nature, birdlife, and wildlife. Gary Clark who is an acclaimed naturalist guide in his own right will co-lead some trips each year with her.

A lifelong naturalist, Gary Clark has studied birds, mammals, and butterflies in North, Central, and South America and in East Africa.  He is an award winning professional writer whose column “Nature” appears weekly in the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express News.  He has authored feature articles in state and national magazines and has written six books that include photographs from his wife, Kathy.  He frequently conducts birding workshops and leads birding tours.  He is founder of the Piney Woods Wildlife Society of Texas, former president of the Houston Audubon Society, and former vice-president of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory.  Gary is a full professor at Lone Star College.

Because of both Kathy & Gary's love of nature, and the work they do, Strabo Tours is proud to make a donation to the Houston Audubon Society for each trip they take part in.

This was the trip of a lifetime for me. I was challenging myself to learn all sorts of new things, photography, a new culture, and was immersed in it. It surpassed my expectations and I met so many beautiful souls along the way. Kathy was fantastic, I give her a 10++!!!

D. Whitney

Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 8 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $400 if 6-7 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.

Single rooms are subject to availability. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, you will be required to pay the supplement.

Testimonials

The trip was AMAZING!!. Definitely goes in the trip of a lifetime category. Thanks for arranging all of the details for the trip! Great Job!!

C Martin

This was the trip of a lifetime for me. I was challenging myself to learn all sorts of new things, photography, a new culture, and was immersed in it. It surpassed my expectations and I met so many beautiful souls along the way. Kathy was fantastic, I give her a 10++!!!

D. Whitney

I learned a lot of new things about photography and details of better camera use that I will put into practice. Judy spent a lot of time with a video camera, but Kathy was very helpful to her when she did use her SLR.

D & J Lund

The trip was amazing and seamless!!!

D. Pando

Kathy is a remarkable photographer and is soooo willing  to share her knowledge with the traveling companions.  She provided a wealth of guidance on what might be good to shoot but was not in your way if you wanted to do things differently.  I would travel with her again in a heartbeat and will if I get the chance!

B. Adams

I am pulling together some amazing prints to show to friends this Saturday at a breakfast get-togther about our trip. I just want to comment on how your guidance from the start about what lenses to bring, your comments about camera settings the first few days in the boats, and your leadership every step of the way led to my bringing home just awesome photos. I know I took them, but you had a hand in this and I continue to learn from you. Thank you and bravo!!

HS

HS

Additional Notes

FITNESS AND HEALTH

The trip is not strenuous, yet there will be various walks/hikes to scenic locations (waterfalls etc.). Anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most of the activities. If you are experience fatigue due to walks or recovering from jet lag, inform your guides, they may be able to make suggestions or alternate plans for you. You will need to be sufficiently agile to climb in and out of the tour van and need to carry and manage your own equipment. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators.

If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).

Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to all tours.

Airfare

Contact Strabo Tours if you would like rates on International Airfare. Please note on your trip application form if you would like us to assist you with your airfare needs, a charge is added for this service. If making your own arrangements, it is important to discuss flight times with Strabo Tours before booking any airline tickets. This will avoid you having to pay airline cancellation penalties. Please contact Strabo Tours for destination airfare estimates, specific flight time arrivals, and departures.

The land cost includes:
  • Group transportation for tour events in the tour van.
  • Accommodations based on two people sharing a room, singles are assigned on a first come, first served basis.
  • Services of driver, English speaking cultural guide (if applicable) and photographic leader, during the tour.
  • Meals as listed in itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner).
  • Park entrance fees, day tours and excursions as shown in the itinerary.
  • Extensive pre-departure information and services.
The land cost does not include:

Domestic or International air fare; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not traveling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, photographic equipment, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; fuel surcharges; exchange rate surcharges; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.

Fitness and Health

The majority of trips are not strenuous (see exceptions below for particular destinations) and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most of the activities. You may experience general fatigue due to the long flights and the change in time zones. You will need to be sufficiently agile to climb in and out of the tour van and be able to carry and manage your own equipment. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators or air conditioners.

If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).

You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.

Exceptions:

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

Deposits, Cancellations AND Refunds

A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic tours) per person is required. Specific tours may require an additional deposit due to accommodation bookings or transportation requirements. If applicable these will be noted on your invoice. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 120 days before the departure date. Space is subject to cancellation by Strabo if payment is not received when due.

If a passenger wishes to cancel they must send notification in writing to: Strabo International Tour, Co., P.O. Box 580, Dryden, NY 13053; fax 208-545-4119. At the time we receive your notification, the following per person charges apply:

  • 91 days or more before departure: $300 cancellation fee ($150 fee on domestic tours), plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation.
  • 61-90 days before departure: $500 ($250 on domestic tours) minimum cancellation fee, plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation. Fees may range from 25% to 100% of tour costs.
  • 60 days or less before departure or anytime after departure: NO REFUND.

Refunds for services that are voluntarily not used by you cannot be made.

Insurance

Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas.

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out insurance on your trip. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short your trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum you’ve invested in it (see the section “Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds” in the trip brochure).

Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.

There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, please read carefully the enclosed pamphlet, which outlines their program of trip cancellation, baggage, and medical insurance. Trained agents are available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to call the toll free number in their brochure. It is to your advantage to apply for insurance at the earliest possible time, so don’t delay in making a decision.

Subject to Change

Itineraries have been carefully constructed to assure participants the best each destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. The itineraries summarize typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.

Photo Release

Strabo International Tour Company, Inc. reserves the right and permission to use photographs of individuals on tour for use in promotional and publicity purposes. We also reserve the right to use clients photographs for promotional and publicity purposes, when submitted to Strabo International Tour Company, Inc.

Accommodations

As this is an active expedition with moderate hikes, you should be in good physical condition. Changes to itinerary may occur due to special local events, impromptu stops, and variable weather conditions. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible. While hotels selected are the best available, they are close to photographic locations, and are en-suite. 

Food & Drink

Dinners tend to be fish, lamb, and occasionally pork may be available.

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