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Orcas and Aurora

Orcas off the Snaefellsnes coast
from £1079 4 nights | Feb - Mar Exc. flights See price details
  • Departs:
  • Feb - Mar


When vast shoals of overwintering herring gather along the coast of West Iceland's Snaefellsnes Peninsula, large pods of orca are rarely far behind. Based in the peaceful town of Grunarfjordur, this expert-guided small-group holiday puts you in prime position for witnessing the orca, as well as spectacular scenery and, with luck, the northern lights.


  • Two whale watching boat trips in search of orca included
  • Watch for white-beaked dolphin & seabirds like gannet, fulmar & eider
  • Learn about wildlife and the northern lights from our award-winning guides
  • Full-day tour of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula’s stunning coast and volcanoes
  • Search for the northern lights 

The best place to see orca in Iceland

From mid-December to mid-April, the coastal waters of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula are often teeming with herring – a food bounty which can attract large pods of killer whales, dolphins and numerous seabirds. Our boat trips are often rewarded by incredible close encounters with these mesmerizing cetaceans – our expert wildlife guides will shed light on their behaviour and help you identify dolphins and seabirds.

Renowned whale and dolphin researcher Erich Hoyt believes this is the “best place in the world to see killer whales in winter”. We’ve been fortunate to have many orca research teams and cetacean experts join this trip, including zoologist and TV presenter Mark Carwardine.

Northern lights watching

You are in a prime location for witnessing the northern lights on this holiday. If the aurora borealis appears, you may only need to step outside to witness the shimmering curtains of green and turquoise light. Experienced aurora hunters and photographers, our guides will explain the science behind the magic, and help you capture the phenomenon with your camera.

Highlights of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Not just for whale enthusiasts or aurora seekers, this holiday is a perfect opportunity to enjoy some of Iceland’s most dramatic scenery. Dominated by the snowcapped peak of a 1,446m-tall volcano, the Snaefellsnes Peninsula has black-sand beaches, blowholes and basalt sea stacks. Wildlife includes Arctic foxes (tricky to spot in their white winter coats) and white-tailed eagles, while the region is rich in culture, with everything from troll legends to turf-roofed houses.

Group sizes are maximum 16 people.

Contact our Iceland experts now

Cathy and Alexa were so wonderful - 24 hours of every day nothing was too much trouble - their enthusiasm was contagious!

Rosalind & Kevin Carter, Orcas & Aurora

We saw more orcas than people and the northern lights were absolutely spectacular... we could not have wished for more.

Kim Savage & Lizz Whitehouse, Orcas & Aurora

Within hours of arriving we were treated to an unbelievable display in the sky with the aurora welcoming us in the most spectacular way, dancing across the sky, illuminating the fjord and surrounding snow covered mountains.

Michael Claassen, Orcas & Aurora

Itinerary & Accommodation

Day 1: arrive Iceland
On arrival at Keflavik Airport meet your driver and guide and transfer to the small fishing town of Grunarfjordur on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula - a drive of around 3 hours. Check into your accommodation for 4 nights. Get acquainted with the group over a delicious wecome dinner (3 course set menu - chef's choice) before a relaxing evening awaiting the northern lights.
Day 2: whale watching
Morning whale watching trip from Grundarfjordur (starting at approximately 10:00 - subject to change locally). The length of the boat trip depends on whale sightings (usually around 3 hours). After lunch (payable locally) enjoy a guided village walk around the town and learn about the history of the area.
Day 3: explore Snaefellsnes Peninsula
After breakfast set off on the road for a full day tour of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in the company of a knowledgeable driver and guide. See sweeping lava fields and the mystical Snaefellsjokull; a glacier sitting atop a sleeping volcano. This area was the setting and inspiration for Jules Verne's famous book 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth'.
Day 4: whale watching and afternoon at leisure
Morning whale watching excursion by boat (starting at approximately 10:00 - subject to change locally). Following lunch (payble locally) take advantage of some free time to relax at the hotel or to take a short hike around the local area.
Day 5: depart Iceland
Leave Grundarfjordur after breakfast and drive back to the airport with a stop en-route in Reykjavik with time to explore at your leisure. Say your goodbyes to the guide and the rest of the group, then check in for the late afternoon flight.
  • This itinerary is based around flights which arrive at Keflavik at 16:00. Other flight options are available from the UK but may involve a short wait upon arrival in Iceland or require extra nights to be added in Iceland before and/or after the tour. Please contact our team of travel specialists to discuss the options available to you.
  • Please note, the weather in Iceland can be unpredictable and therefore can cause substantial delays which can result in the need to re-arrange or extend your holiday itinerary. Whilst we and our contacts in Iceland will do everything possible to minimise any disruption, it is important that you check the details of your travel insurance and allow for some flexibility in your plans.
  • The appearance of the orca to the shores of Iceland is an unpredictable event. Their arrival time has varied from year to year and we can not guarantee sightings. If the orca are not in the region at the time of your visit, alternative arrangements may be made.

Accommodation Options

Grundarfjordur Bed & Breakfast, Snaefellsness

  • Grade: Standard
  • Type: Guesthouse

A comfortable guesthouse conveniently located for whale …

Prices & Dates

Airfares start from around £100 per person and are quoted separately to the holiday price.

When enquiring, our Travel Specialists will provide the best fare possible from your preferred airline / airport.

Departure Dates 2019

  • These are starting prices in £ per person based on two sharing a room with private facilities, unless otherwise stated.
  • All prices are based on a 4 night duration
  • Single Supplement is £141
Departure Dates
PriceAvailabilityGuaranteed Departure
04 February 2019 £1,079 Available No
19 February 2019 £1,079 Available No
27 February 2019 £1,079 Available No
06 March 2019 £1,079 Available No
14 March 2019 £1,079 Available No

Prices include transfers as per itinerary; 4 nights on bed and breakfast basis in rooms with private facilities at Grundarfjordur Bed & Breakfast, one evening meal - (3 course set menu), two whale watching boat trips excursions as detailed in the itinerary; the services of a driver and guide and a Northern Lights Bradt Guide.

Prices exclude Flights, travel insurance, personal expenses, tips and gratuities

Important note: The appearance of the orca to the shores of Iceland is an unpredictable event. Their arrival time has varied from year to year and we can not guarantee sightings. If the orca are not in the region at the time of your visit, alternative arrangements may be made.

Your Expert Guides

Cathy Harlow

A true Iceland expert, Cathy has worked as a guide in Iceland for 25 years, is author of the Horizon Visitors' Guide to Iceland and contributor to several other publications on travel on the island. From 2006 to 2008 she worked during three winter seasons as a whale watch guide in Tysfjord and Lofoten in northern Norway, where hundreds of orcas gathered to feed on overwintering herring in the fjords.

"Taking visitors out to see orcas was the most challenging, exciting and rewarding job I've ever done."

Sometimes working alongside orca research teams, she gathered a wealth of knowledge on killer whales, one of the most enigmatic of cetaceans. Cathy has also worked as a natural history guide and tour leader in Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Azores, Dominica and Bahamas.

Cathy & Alexa

Alexa Kershaw

Fascinated by wildlife since childhood, Alexa began studying cetaceans off the west coast of Scotland for her Masters degree in Ecological Management 15 years ago. After falling in love with the Hebrides, she spent many years living on the Isle of Mull, guiding whale watching trips while studying harbour porpoises and minke whales.

She has since worked as a researcher, guide, campaigner and consultant on a wide variety of marine mammal research projects, including visual and acoustic surveys in the Baltic Sea, photo-id of cetaceans in South Africa and New Zealand, and an aerial survey of the Great Barrier Reef.

Alexa is a keen wildlife photographer, passionate about conservation, and has combined her cetacean research with her love of guiding and sharing her knowledge of the marine environment. She has led whale watching trips for Discover the World in Scotland, Iceland and South Africa and is thrilled to be returning to Iceland this year.

Group sizes

Group sizes are a maximum of 16 people.

How to book

Book this trip

So that we may send you a personalised quote and confirmation of availability, please click on the link below and complete our Enquiry form. One of our Travel Specialists will then be in touch to complete your booking or answer any further questions you might have.

travel guaranteeWe will always offer the best price available at the time of booking and guarantee no surcharges - see our 100% Guarantee for full details.

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Speak to a specialist: 1-844-584-0668

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