Iceland in 16 Days: Day 12, Westfjords, Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs, Breiðavík, Puffins

After leaving Ísafjörður, we headed to our next stop, the Látrabjarg bird cliffs in Breiðavík. It’s quite a long drive over mountain passes and by waterfalls.

Before heading anywhere in Iceland, but especially the West Fjords, make sure you have a full tank of gas.

We got a late start and did not arrive in Breiðavík until 9:00PM or so. We had a very nice dinner at the Breidavik Guesthouse, which is precisely where you want to stay to photograph the bird cliffs.

We saw puffins at other locations in Iceland, but no other location comes close to the Látrabjarg experience. One can get within a couple of feet of amazing birds simply by approaching low and slow. The birds are used to humans.

Feature Image Details: Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 58MM, F/6.3 , ISO 2000, 1/1250 Second

Puffin Gallery

Puffins nest in burrows they dig in the sides of the cliffs. One image shows nesting material in a puffin’s beak. The young puffins had not yet hatched so we had no chance to get images of the birds with fish in their beaks, feeding the young puffins.

Many photographers used long lenses. That approach is good for taking full-frame portraits, but I went for a wide-angle closeup look instead. The latter approach give more of a feeling of the high cliff these birds were on. If you fall over the edge here, it will be the last trip you take alive.

I never felt unsafe, but to minimize risk, lay on the ground and creep up on the bids slowly. Once the puffins get used to you, they ignore you or in some cases, seem to want to put on a display.

I used relatively high ISOs and fast shutter speeds to freeze the movements in the wings. Choice of shutter speed is a tradeoff between depth of field and wing blur.

We only allotted a single day at Breiðavík. Odds of getting warm weather, beautiful light, with no wind was not that good. Breiðavík is frequently rainy and windy, but we were blessed with a perfect day.

In my Iceland Guide I recommend spending another day at this location. Realistically one could easily spend several days. There are other things in the area to see and do, but the bird cliffs are the main attraction.

I highly recommend taking the Taking the ferry between Stykkishólmur and Brjánslækur to get to or from the cliffs on a circle tour. The ferry will save several hours of travel time. Reservations advised.

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Next Up: Razorbills at the Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs in Breiðavík.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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