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Puffin, Ingólfshöfði

Small group puffin tour at Ingólfshöfði

Wild, remote and untouched, the windswept headland of Ingólfshöfði is located at the foot of the vast Vatnajökull ice cap, and is supposedly where its namesake Norseman, Ingólfur Arnarson, first landed in Iceland in around 875 AD. Today, Ingólfshöfði’s tall cliffs are teeming with birdlife, including razorbills, fulmar, skuas and, between mid-May and mid-August, large colonies of puffins. This two-and-a-half-hour small group tour offers a chance to hike along the exposed cape, which is separated from the mainland by marshland, soaking up the views, searching for birdlife and learning about Ingólfshöfði’s history, ecology and birdlife.

You’ll meet your guide and the other members of your small group in the Ingólfshöfði car park just off the ring road in south Iceland between Skaftafell and Jökulsárlón.

As Ingólfshöfði is separated from the mainland by a 6 km (4 mile) wide stretch of sandy marshland, you will be driven to the cape by a tractor-drawn hay cart, which takes around 25 minutes. You’ll then join your guide on a short, steep climb up a sand slope to the top of the cape. Once at the top, the terrain is largely flat and grassy, and you’ll spend around an hour and a half with your guide exploring the cape, searching for puffins.

As you go, your guide will explain more about Ingólfshöfði’s history, ecology and birdlife. If the weather is clear, you can also expect panoramic views of the black sands below, framed by the Vatnajökull glacier, and you may see whales breaching in the ocean.

The cape is part of a private nature reserve and although wildlife sightings can never be completely guaranteed, your guide lives on a local farm and knows the cape and its nesting sites well, so sightings are highly likely. At times, thousands of puffins are present, at others most of the birds may be at sea fishing. Your guide will give you plenty of time to view and photograph the puffins, whose comical antics can be highly entertaining.

Along with the puffins, you can expect to see many other seabirds here such as common murre, razorbill, and fulmar. The nature reserve is also part of the largest breeding ground in the world of the north Atlantic family of great skua.

When you’ve made a loop of the cape and had enough time to take photographs and observe the birds, you’ll return to the tractor for the trip back across the marshland to the base.

In total, the tour duration is around two and a half hours.

We recommend dressing in warm thermal layers, sturdy outdoor shoes and waterproof clothing as the area is very exposed and there is no place to shelter from winds and rain, including on the tractor ride over to the cape.

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Audley Travel Specialist Grace

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Other experiences in Vatnajökull National Park

These activities are designed to give you the most authentic experiences around where you're staying. We work with local guides, who use their knowledge and often a resident's eye to show you the main sights and more out-of-the-way attractions. Our specialists can suggest tours and activities that will introduce you to the local ways of life.

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Experience it for yourself

You can enjoy this activity as part of the suggested tours below, or we can weave it into a trip shaped entirely around you.