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  • Writer's pictureEinar Páll Svavarsson

Wildlife and animals in Iceland

Updated: Jun 25


Sheep is the most common animal you see in Iceland
Sheep is the most common animal you see in Iceland

Tourists cruising through Iceland are in for a wild ride! Brace yourself to have your mind blown by the jaw-dropping landscapes you'll stumble upon. Picture this: you're hopping from one epic waterfall to the next, only to find yourself surrounded by sprawling fields, eerie lava fields, moody black sand beaches, and charming countryside views. The backdrop? Oh, it's a showstopper! Think majestic mountain ranges, icy glaciers, and even glacier tongues reaching out to give the ocean a high-five. Say goodbye to boring drives through endless forests where all you see are trees for miles on end. Nope, in Iceland, it's all about the dramatic fjords that serve up a feast for your eyes with cascading waterfalls, serene lakes, and winding rivers. It's like a scenic drive on steroids, perfect for anyone who wants a 360-degree view of nature's finest while cruising along.


Birds, horses, sheep, and other fascinating animals are part of the scenic drive in Iceland

During a road trip in Iceland, the experience goes beyond just admiring the stunning landscapes; it involves encountering a diverse array of both domestic and wild animals that inhabit the country. As you traverse the Icelandic countryside, you'll have the opportunity to observe a wide variety of bird species that call this unique island home. From seabirds soaring overhead to colorful puffins nesting along the cliffs, the avian diversity adds an extra layer of wonder to your journey.


Moreover, the pastoral scenes of Icelandic farms offer glimpses of the iconic horses, cows, and sheep peacefully grazing in the lush fields. The sight of these animals against the backdrop of Iceland's dramatic scenery creates a picturesque tableau that captures the essence of rural life in this enchanting land.


However, amidst the allure of capturing these idyllic moments through photography, it's crucial to exercise caution, especially when navigating narrow roads like the Ring Road. While the temptation to stop and photograph the animals in their natural habitat is strong, it's essential to prioritize safety. The juxtaposition of animals against the striking Icelandic landscape can be mesmerizing, but it's vital to remain vigilant and avoid stopping in precarious locations to prevent any potential hazards.


By being aware of the surroundings and understanding the risks involved, travelers can ensure a safe and enjoyable road trip through Iceland's captivating terrain. Embracing the harmony between nature and wildlife while respecting the need for caution enhances the overall experience, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of Iceland's untamed wilderness.


Although Iceland has many species of animals, there are no dangerous animals

The Icelandic horse
The Icelandic horse

As you travel on the roads in Iceland, you will come across various animals. However, as you move to higher altitudes, the number of animals decreases. What's interesting is that there are no dangerous animals in Iceland, which means that you are safe from animal attacks while camping or hiking. While driving through Iceland's natural wonders such as waterfalls, basalt column cliffs, hot spring geothermal pools, and glacier lagoons, you will notice many animals, especially around farms and farmlands. You will see a lot of friendly and beautiful animals like sheep, cows, and birds of all sizes, including geese and Whooper swans. It's worth repeating that there are almost no dangerous wild animals in Iceland, so you don't have to worry about your safety while exploring the countryside.

Arctic fox in Iceland
Arctic fox in Iceland

The fox and the mink are two species that could be intimidating to humans. They predominantly live in highland areas, far away from most inhabited regions. However, these animals are more afraid of humans than we are of them, and they usually run away as fast as possible if they see us. Sometimes, you may also come across the Icelandic horse, a magnificent animal that can add a new dimension to a scenic drive. Watching Icelandic horses run together in a flock in the Icelandic landscape is an awe-inspiring sight to behold when driving in Iceland. Overall, most of the animals in Iceland are a significant addition to the landscape, whether it's a puffin on a cliff, a whooper swan on a lake, a duck on a river, geese flying in a canyon, or a flock of horses running together on a hill. The animals will always add to the beauty of the landscape and provide an excellent photographic opportunity.


Animals and birds often enhance nature in Iceland
Animals and birds often enhance nature in Iceland

 

If you're planning to tour Iceland in a rental car, make sure to read this article about the three important things you need to know and the type of car that would be best for your trip!

 

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