Arctic Fox Photography in Hornstrandir
The Arctic fox is the only original land mammal in Iceland, having survived here for at least 12.000 years since the end of the last Ice Age. The fox has been aggressively hunted through the centuries, since it’s a powerful predator that the farmers didn’t get along with very well.
The Arctic fox is totally protected in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve and the area has the highest density of Arctic foxes in the world. They are also pretty relaxed around humans and can easily be seen both in summer and winter. They are definitely more beautiful in the winter, with their thick fur, minding their own business of hunting and survival in the harsh climate of the North Atlantic. There are both white and blue morph in the valley, though the blue morph is more common.
Borea is a pioneer in running services for wildlife photographers wanting to take photos of arctic foxes both in summer and winter with individual photographers and film crews from the BBC, Netflix and other TV outlets. Most of the trips are pre booked by professional photographers but occasionally we have weeks available to offer on an individual basis. On those trips we don't have a designated photography guide joining you but our guide, caretaker and cook will assist you in finding the best spots to photograph them and how to behave around these beautiful animals.
The tour in a nutshell, includes boat rides out to Kviar Lodge and back, with accommodation in made up beds and delicious food the whole time. During the day, you can wander around the valley and you don’t need to venture far to spot tracks and eventually see them up close to get the perfect shot. There are few dens in the valley and in the surrounding area of Kviar and we often spot them fighting and playing around in the snow and on the beach. But bear in mind that these are wild animals and some days are quiet and on other days there is a lot of action.
Borea has built a hide that is perfect to use when it’s stormy and you need a shelter to take photos and store gear away from the elements.
This time of the year is also perfect to photograph the northern lights. The sky is big around Kviar and there is absolutely no light pollution. Kviar is the only house that is occupied in at least 40 km. radius.
Dates are running out and we only have one date left for 2023.
- One way boat transportation to Kvíar Lodge at the start and end of the trip.
- All food in Kvíar Lodge
- Accommodation in made up beds
- One caretaker/cook from Borea
- Full use of the house facilities, including the sauna...!
- Alcohol beverages
- Personal insurances
- Travel to and from Ísafjörður
There is no photography guide as such on the trip but you will be accompanied by an acknowledgeable guide, cook and caretaker for the house, to make sure everything runs smoothly and you can focus on your photography. You are in charge of your time in Hornstrandir and to make the best of the opportunity to get the perfect shot, with the help of our staff.
Leaving at 12:00 noon from Ísafjörður Harbour on our boat Bjarnarnes to Kviar Lodge. The boat ride takes about an hour. We'll be landing on the beach in a Zodiak since there is no harbour in Kvíar. Make sure you have rubber boots and pack your gear well since things could get wet. We get our equipment in the rooms and make ourselves at home. After few words about the house and briefing, you can get ready to take photos.
Full days of photography at your own pace.
Here you have at least half a day to take photos before we embark the boat and head back to Ísafjörður. We aim at departure around 2 pm.
Here is is a brief list of things to have. Of course you might have your own preferences but it’s a good starting point so you will fully enjoy your tour. Please note that we make a landing on the beach in a Zodiak, so make sure you have your valuables well packed since there is sometimes surf on the beach and things tend to get splashed by seawater.
- You DON'T need to bring a sleeping bag. There are made up beds.
- Thermal underwear, at least two sets of shirts. Wool or synthetic. No cotton!
- Wool or fleece thermal mid layer.
- Take two thin layers instead of one thick one.
- Waterproof and breathable pants and jacket.
- Thermal jacket (down or fiber).
- Wool / fleece hat and balaclava.
- Ski goggles is a good idea but optional.
- Two pairs of gloves and one pair of mittens.
- 2 to 3 pairs thick wool / synthetic socks.
- Casual clothes to wear in the evenings.
- Slippers to wear inside the house.
- Good winter boots that can stand up to the Icelandic winter. Something like insulated Sorel boots or Muck Boots.
- Rubber boots are really good to have for the beach landings, unless you have waterproof boots similar like the one in the links above.
- It's handy to have simple walking crampons in case it's icy in the area. There are many different brands and they're not expensive. Just Google "Spike Crampons".
- Soft travel bag (no hard suitcases) that is easy to carry. This is important. We might not be able to land on the beach beneath the house and then we have to walk about 20 minutes from a different drop off point that is sheltered from the surf. So soft bags, preferably with shoulder straps, are very good to have. The standard in these bags are The North Face duffels but there are other manufacturers.
- Make sure that you can carry your camera gear in a waterproof bag for the beach landings. A simple thick plastic bag suits fine.
- Swim suit and towel for the sauna.
How likely is it to see Arctic foxes on this trip?
We’ve seen more than one or two foxes on every trip that we’ve done. So, it’s fair to say that it’s a 100% chance to see them. But we can of course not guarantee the time of the day and where they can be seen. These are wild animals and don’t care about your agenda…! It’s best to see them at low tide when they come out to search the beaches for food. In the winter, they live of birds and eggs they’ve buried in the summer and anything they find on the beach.
Are there white foxes in Kvíar Valley?
Most of the arctic foxes in Hornstrandir are of the blue morph and only about 20% are white. We see the white foxes occassionaly but not on every trip. They are also harder to spot in the snow as you can imagine.
How is the accommodation set up?
We have mixture of rooms from two person rooms to five person rooms. All beds are made up with down duvets, very comfortable and warm.
How can we charge camera batteries?
There is solar power in Kviar that doesn't work really well during the dark winter and recently added a small wind turbine that works well when there is wind. But we do have a generator and we usually set a time in the afternoon to charge everything up for the next day. Works really well.