With Daníel Bergmann
Grímsey Island in North Iceland
June 24th – 1st of July
Around half of the world’s population of Atlantic Puffin breed in Iceland. Estimated at 2–3 million breeding pairs it’s the most common bird in the country. There are many fine locations to photograph Puffins but in my opinion Grimsey Island, which lies north of Iceland’s main land and is the only part of the country that’s within the Arctic circle, is by far the best for Puffin photography.
I’ve been photographing Puffins in Iceland for over 20 years and have spent a combined time period of many months on Grimsey Island. While Puffins have been in steep decline on Iceland’s south coast for the past two decades they have been increasing on Grimsey and the island is now probably home to 100.000 breeding pairs.
One of the main attractions of Puffin photography at Grimsey is to capture them in flight. Puffins have small and narrow wings that have evolved to give them speed and agility while diving. The compromise is that they have to flap them very fast to stay airborne and are like small missiles in flight. However, wind conditions on Grimsey often slow the Puffins down to the point of soaring or being suspended in the air. The fact that Puffins also breed all around the island offers a variety of light conditions and different choices of background. This is why I’ve designed this workshop to just take place on Grimsey so that we can make use of all these different opportunities for a week of ultimate Puffin photography.
There are more birds than Puffins on Grimsey. It’s also without question the finest location in Iceland to photograph Razorbills. Common Murre are also plentiful on the cliffs, as are Northern Fulmars and Black-legged Kittiwakes. Golden Plovers, Ringed Plovers and Common Snipe breed around the guesthouse and Arctic Terns are quite common. Red-necked Phalaropes and Snow Buntings are also on our list of subjects along with a number of other common Iceland breeders.
The timing – end of June – has been carefully chosen as by then the Puffins have pufflings in their burrows and should be bringing in food for them, which generates the opportunity to capture Puffins with beaks full of catch.
On June 24 you will fly from Reykjavik City to Akureyri in the north and the following day we'll take the ferry to Grimsey Island where we'll stay for five days. On July 1 you will fly back to Reykjavik. These domestic flights, which take about 45 minutes each, save many hours of driving.
WHAT TO EXPECT
As we’ll have 5 full days on the island we should get different kinds of weather and light conditions. The daily schedule will depend much on those two factors – light and weather. This will be at the height of summer, the sun does not set but is low on the horizon for many hours during the night. We have the whole guesthouse booked for our group and a cook with us to make our meals so that we have no limitations on when we can be out photographing – we make our own schedule as we go along.
To get to the north you will fly on the domestic flight from Reykjavik City to Akureyri, which is the largest town in Iceland outside the capital area in the south. I’ll be at the Akureyri airport to meet you and the first night will be in an Akureyri hotel. The following morning we’ll drive to the town of Dalvik, where we’ll catch the ferry to Grimsey. This is a 3 hour crossing and we’ll bring the vehicle with us out to the island. Once there we’ll settle into Basar guesthouse. We have the whole house for ourselves which means that everyone can have their own room or people travelling together can share one of the larger rooms. There are shared facilities in the guesthouse – one bathroom on the lower floor and one on the upper floor of the house. This is a clean and comfortable guesthouse and a great base for our workshop. There are Puffins breeding on the grassy slopes very close to the house – a few minutes walking distance.
Although the island is small, roughly 5,3 km2 in size, it’s still too big to walk over and over again from the northernmost extreme to the far southern part with camera gear. Therefore we’ll have a 4x4 van with us for easy transport. There is a dirt track that circumnavigates the island that requires a 4x4 vehicle with high ground clearance to navigate.
At the end of the week we’ll have a similar program as in the beginning. Take the ferry to Dalvik, drive to Akureyri where we’ll overnight and then I’ll drop you off at the airport on the morning of July 1 for the flight back to Reykjavik City.
Grimsey Island is not only the finest bird photography location in Iceland but it’s also a unique and relaxing experience to visit this remote part of the country and dwell for a while inside the Arctic Circle.
THE GUIDE / LEADER
A bit about myself. I’ve been a professional nature photographer in my home country of Iceland since the year 2000. Since 2004 I’ve been guiding photography tours in Iceland and the High-Arctic, mainly Svalbard and Greenland. Apart from photo tours I also guide birdwatchers as birding is my main passion along with photography. I’ve authored five books on various themes of Iceland’s nature and I’m the editor of Iceland’s only bird magazine. I also sit on the board of directors for BirdLife Iceland, which means that I’m actively involved in bird and habitat conservation.
During our time on Grimsey it is my role to safely guide you to the different locations and to assist you if needed to master photographing birds in flight. I’ll share my knowledge about the behavior of the different birds we’ll encounter and tell you about their ecology and biology. This is my home and I’ve been studying the birds that share it with me for decades.
All images on this page are photographed on Grimsey Island.
FACTS ABOUT THE WORKSHOP
Dates: June 24 – July 1, 2025
Duration: 8 days / 7 nights
Group Size: 6 – 8 participants
TRANSPORTATION: A 4x4 van, ferry and airplanes
COST (in USD): $6,500
$2,000 deposit at registration.
Balance due 60 days in advance.
To request a booking click below:
INCLUDED IN THE WORKSHOP RATE:
2 nights of accommodation in an Akureyri hotel
5 nights of accommodation at Grimsey Island
all meals from lunch on June 24 to breakfast on July 1
domestic flights between Reykjavik and Akureyri and ferry
transportation in a 4x4 vehicle
any pre- or post-tour expenses including transfers in Reykjavik
anything else not specified as included