Midnight Sun and Arctic Foxes
Wildlife Exploring in the Westfjords
The bright Icelandic summer nights are the right time to see Arctic Foxes which have called the valley their home for decades. There is a den in the valley and as in nature, they sometimes breed a litter of beautiful cubs but sometimes they're not successful. We can pretty much guarantee that you see foxes but the cubs are not there every year.
Kvíar Lodge is an old farmhouse in the Hornstrandir nature reserve. When people abandoned the area in 1948 with their livestock, arctic foxes became the only remaining land mammals. For 65 years they have roamed the fjords and bays, free from human disturbance, making them rather tame and playful.
Kvíar is the only house for many kilometers, reachable only by boat. During the summer, we welcome guests to spend two nights in the historical house and enjoy the beautiful surroundings, where nature has ruled for 65 years.
It's a unique opportunity to visit Hornstrandir in a relatively short timeframe, experience the midnight sun, learn about and feel the history of the area and see Arctic Foxes in their natural environment.
We respect the Arctic Foxes and realize that summer is their breeding time. Therefore, we walk carefully, keep our distance and follow guidelines and rules given by wildlife specialists.This trip is very flexible and we have various activities available. The hiking in the mountains surrounding the farmhouse is spectacular, with panoramic views guarenteed. We also have kayaks available, and a guided kayak tour is a great way to explore the untouched coastline of this remote area. However, if you prefer to curl up in the long grass with a great book while keeping an eye out for the foxes, then that is fine too!
My partner and I did the 2 night Midnight Sun and Arctic Foxes tour to Hornstrandir, and it was one of the best experiences we've ever had. We were very lucky with the weather - so fickle in Iceland - so had two great hikes, foraging berries and spotting Icelandic flora, enjoying the views of the fjord, glacier, and waterfalls. We also had a great kayak trip accompanied by a seal, with whales nearby.
Our main aim was to see arctic foxes and we were not disappointed - they played near the house much of the time and were so close! We went in September so didn't see the midnight sun but got the northern lights instead.Gwenllian, Tripadvisor Sept. 2016
- Boat ride to and from Hornstrandir Nature Reserve
- All food
- Accommodation at Kvíar Farmhouse
- Professional guide
- Travel to and from Ísafjörður prior to and after the trip
- Food on the first day until the trip departs
- Personal medical insurance
- Personal equipment and clothing
We meet at our office in Aðalstræti 17 (downtown main street) at 8am for a briefing, where we will answer any questions and make final preparations. We depart from the harbour in Ísafjörður on our passenger ferry Bjarmi at 9am and sail to the head of Veiðileysufjörður Fjord where we´ll be dropped off. En route there is a very good chance that we’ll see humpback whales, puffins and other sea birds.
After a short briefing about the history of Hornstrandir, we start our beautiful hike up the valley en route to our renovated farmhouse in Kvíar. The hike gives us a great chance to experience the lush landscape of the lowlands and the barren terrain and lakes higher up, once carved out by glaciers.
The views get better and better as we make our way up to the mountain ridges above the fjords. When we reach our high point, we slowly start our descent down the valley floor of Kvíadalur, mainly following the river and enjoy the lakes and waterfalls along the way. After a couple of hours, the house in Kvíar appears in its beautiful setting just above the beach.
We enjoy a relaxing evening with a nice home cooked meal and the wood heated sauna!
After a hearty breakfast, we will head out for an adventure in the surrounding mountains and fjords. We normally split the day into a good hike in the morning and a sea kayaking tour into Lónafjörður fjord in the afternoon.
We will take a short walk up the valley to the mountains edge where we get a panoramic view over the magnificent Lónafjörður fjord. While keeping a close lookout for Arctic Foxes, guests can enjoy the rich birdlife around the area; from common species such as eider ducks, swans, oystercatchers and snipes to more rare birds, such as the white-tailed eagle.
After lunch, we head to the shore where we can try our skills on the water, if conditions are good. Sea kayaking is very easy in good conditions and we use stable and seaworthy kayaks for a comfortable paddle. Back to Kvíar for a nice dinner and another session in the sauna.
The plan is very flexible. We can do a full day of hiking or a full day of kayaking if you would prefer. Please tell us what you’d like to do!
On the last day, we explore the adjacent mountains and fjords. There is a nice route up to the top of the mountain ridge overlooking the magnificent Lónafjörður Fjord and we can see Drangajökull Glacier to the East. We then loop around down to the valley floor and follow the river back to the farmhouse in Kviar.
We then head back to Kvíar and await the passenger ferry which will transport us back to Ísafjörður. The boat arrives around 5-6pm. We arrive back in town at approximately 7-8pm.
This itinerary is a guide only and is subject to change depending on the weather, sea conditions and the ability of the group.
- Warm outdoor clothing including hiking pants and warm upper layers. Please avoid cotton as it keeps you cold when wet and takes a very long time to dry.
- Waterproof jacket and pants.
- Hiking boots. Please use waterproof high-top hiking boots, which provide ankle support.
- Hat and gloves.
- Small backpack.
- Personal medical kit i.e. band aids, throat lozenges, lip salves, seasickness tablets etc. Don't forget your personal medication, which you may need (e.g. Asthma inhaler, even if you don’t always need it).
- Sun glasses.
- Sunscreen and after sun cream.
- Binoculars are nice to have for watching wildlife. (Optional).
- Water bottle.
- Towel and bathing suit for the sauna.
- Personal items e.g. toiletries, spare clothing etc
- Don't forget your camera!
How difficult is this tour?
This tour is highly flexible in terms of its difficulty. We make a plan based on the ability and desires of the guests. The main aim is to learn about and enjoy the nature, culture and history of this unique area. The activities are all optional but are highly recommended. Please be in touch beforehand if you have any concerns about the difficulty of our tours.
I have specific dietary requirements and/or allergies to certain foods. Can you cater to my needs?
Of course, we realise that we’re not all made the same and have different needs and desires. We try our best to cater to your needs. Please let us know ahead of time if you have any requirements so that we can plan the food accordingly.
Will I see Arctic Foxes on this tour?
For years, an Arctic Fox family has had their den in the farmhouse’s backyard and the cubs usually get curious when guests appear. However, the foxes are still very much a wild animal so we make no guarantees that we will see them.
You mention that good hiking boots that offer ankle support are mandatory. Why is that?
The main problem that we've had to deal with is guests not having appropriate boots. High top ankle boots give much better support and keep you dryer than hiking ‘shoes’. We hike through a mixture of rough terrain including wet grass, loose rock, snow, streams and sand. Therefore, we need supportive boots to help prevent ankle injuries and waterproof boots to keep you warm and dry. We recommend Scarpa leather boots or nylon versions with Gore Tex. There are many other good manufacturers such as La Sportiva, Mammut, Merrell, and Meindl.
How do I get to Ísafjörður?
Here you can see your options on how to travel to our beautiful town: How do I get to Ísafjörður.