Exploring the Westfjords in 24, 48, and 72 hours

Summer in Hornstrandir, Westfjords.

With many unpaved, narrow and meandering mountain roads, the Westfjords are a place of slow and careful travel. Seemingly short distances can be long in reality, which will be your main obstacle when visiting the Westfjords with a limited amount of days at hand. Having a predetermined plan with estimated travel times can come in handy to tackle this, but being flexible is also key. Most importantly, though, enjoy the scenic journey, not just the destinations!

Day one

7-9 AM

Make your way to the Westfjords. If you have a long drive before reaching them, for example, travelling from Reykjavík, we recommend heading off at 7 AM to make the most of your day. The itinerary includes lunch and dinner stops where you can buy food, but pack something to snack on between meals. 

11:30 PM

Your first stop will be for lunch at Flókalundur in Vatnsfjörður fjord. If you brought your own lunch, head up to the campsite picnic tables or spread out on the grass by the shore. You can also purchase lunch at Hótel Flókalundur. 

12:30 PM

Depart from Flókalundur and drive to your next destination: Rauðisandur Beach.  The journey will take a bit more than an hour. Rauðisandur, or Red Sand, is a truly magnificent place picked as one of the top 100 beaches of the world by Lonely Planet. The beach, stretching for 12-13 km [7.5-8 miles], gets its name from the uniquely pink and reddish shades of its sand, stemming from the shell of the Icelandic Scallop.

A mountain road in the Westfjords.
Photo: Golli. A mountain road in the Westfjords.

2:30 PM

Head off to your next destination, which is the renowned Dynjandi Waterfall. 100 metres [328 feet] tall and spreading out on the cliffs like a veil, it‘s a spectacular sight. You can hike up to the waterfall on a rocky path, passing by several other smaller waterfalls on the way. The area is a natural protected monument, so please stay on the paths to help preserve it. To take in more of the Westfjords’ unique landscape on the way to Dynjandi, opt for road 63 rather than 62, which you drove from Flókalundur. The drive will be about 2 hours. Should you be in need of an atmospheric snack spot before you arrive at Dynjandi, stop by the Abandoned Barn of Fossfjörður fjord. 

5:30 PM

If you‘re not planning on staying the night in the Westfjords, this is the time to circle back. If you are staying, drive the 50-minute drive to Ísafjörður for dinner at Húsið restaurant. Their fish soup is particularly popular among guests and a must-try if you haven‘t had Icelandic fish soup yet. For those not ready to go to bed after dinner, we recommend driving to the Bolafjall mountain viewing platform, which has an absolutely breathtaking view of the mountains and ocean lying before it. For lodgings, we recommend The Little House or Einarshúsið Guesthouse in Bolungarvík, a small village 15 minutes from the platform. 

Day two

8 AM

Start your day off with a Kringla and Kókómjólk at Kaffihús Bakarans bakery in Ísafjörður. This is a classic Icelandic combo of torus-shaped carraway bread and chocolate milk. 

9:30 AM

Head off on a guided trip to Hesteyri, a tiny village deserted in 1952. Now, it serves as a summer resort for local owners and is a popular starting point for hikers exploring the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Due to its isolation and lack of inhabitants, nature has been left mostly undisturbed. As a result, you will experience Iceland’s most pristine flora and fauna, with wildflowers spreading over the entire area and arctic foxes running between them. You can bring lunch or order it from the local cafe, The Doctor‘s House.

Note: The trip to Hesteyri can only be made from the beginning of June to the end of August. 

An arctic fox on a beach in Hornstrandir, Westfjords.
Photo: Golli. An arctic fox on a beach in Hornstrandir, Westfjords.

2:30 PM

When you get back, take a walk around town and pop into the Westfjords Heritage Museum to gain a better insight into the Westfjord‘s culture and maritime history. If you‘re cold and tired, you can also make your way straight to your accommodations for the night: Heydalur farm guesthouse. There, you‘ll be able to take refuge in their unique swimming pool and natural hot spring before having a delicious locally sourced dinner. If you‘re yet to try the Icelandic lamb, we highly recommend having the lamb fillet. The drive from Ísafjörður to Heydalur will take a bit less than two hours. If your plans do not include another night in the Westfjords, you can start your journey back after dinner.

Day three

8 AM

For your last day in the Westfjords, you‘ll head over to the north side for an adventure in Strandir straight after breakfast. Your destination is Krossneslaug, a small swimming pool on a beach in the middle of nowhere. It‘s probably the most remote swimming pool you‘ll find in Iceland. It‘s been in use since 1954 and has a terrific view of the ocean, where you might be able to spot some whales if you‘re lucky. The drive will take about 3 hours, which sounds like a lot but don‘t worry; half of it is on the most scenic road you can take in Iceland.

Note: Due to road conditions, Krossneslaug can only be reached from mid-May to the end of August.

Krossneslaug swimming pool in Westfjords.
Photo: Golli. Krossneslaug swimming pool in Westfjords.

12:30 PM

Begin the 50-minute drive to Djúpavík, a historical, abandoned and enchanting village where you can have a late lunch at Hótel Djúpavík and a guided tour of the old herring factory. The village is known for its ability to take you back in time and was one of the filming locations of the 2017 Justice League.

3:30 PM

It‘s time to venture back to civilisation for the last stop of your Westfjords tour. The Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft is located in Hólmavík, and it will take you approximately an hour and a half to get there from Djúpavík. The museum offers you to step into the time of Galdrafárið, the witch hunt hysteria, and learn about the lives of people in Strandir during that period. The latest time to enter is 5:30 PM, so make sure to leave Djúpavík no later than 3:30 PM. This should give you about an hour to explore, as the drive takes approximately an hour and a half. End your day with a scrumptious meal at Café Riis in Hólmavík, which serves high-quality Icelandic classics and pizzas. 

Passenger Boat Stranded at Hornstrandir

hornstrandir hiking

A passenger boat en route from Bolungarvík to Hornstrandir stranded in the late afternoon, yesterday, July 16. RÚV reports.

Hornstrandir is a wilderness reserve in the Westfjords notable for its large population of Arctic foxes. Although the region is connected to the mainland, its remote location means that hikers and travellers to the area must rely on boats.

The ship is reported to have run aground in Látravík bay near the Hornbjargsviti lighthouse. According to Landsbjörg spokesperson Jón Þór Víglundsson, the passengers reached the shore safely.

Jón Þór stated to RÚV: “Two rescue boats were sent out, one from Ísafjörður and the other from Bolungarvík. There was never any real danger during the journey, but it seems that the ship ran aground while attempting to bring the passengers ashore.”

Further information is not available at this time, but such boats generally transport small groups ranging from five to ten individuals.

The boat was assisted by the vessel Gísli Jóns from Ísafjörður and was then towed by the coastguard vessel Þór.

Sea Ice Unusually Close to North Iceland Coast

The Coast Guard flight yesterday discovered plenty of sea ice unusually close to Iceland’s northern coastline, which could pose a risk to seafarers. At the same time, parts of the North Atlantic Ocean are warmer than ever before. RÚV reported first.

“We have some very scattered ice coming up to the shore some eight to nine nautical miles from Hornstrandir [nature reserve in the Westfjords], which is closer than we’ve been seeing lately,” sea ice expert Ingibjörg Jónsdóttir, who was on the flight yesterday, stated. Thicker sea ice was also present further out to sea. Although the ice is thin in many places, it could be dangerous for smaller ships, according to Ingibjörg.

While the sea of Iceland’s north coast is currently cold, south of the island it has reached higher temperatures than ever before. The average temperature in the North Atlantic Ocean has never measured higher since record-taking began, breaking records for the past three months in a row. The ocean’s average temperature is just over one degree hotter than the average over the past two decades. In some areas, it is up to 4 degrees Celsius hotter than is considered normal.

Halldór Björnsson, Coordinator of Atmospheric Research at the Icelandic Met Office, says there is no doubt about the reason for this warming. “The basic reason is that all the world’s oceans are much warmer than they were, and that is simply the result of global warming,” he stated.

Arctic Fox Gets Starring Role in New Netflix Series

Iceland’s Arctic fox has a starring role in the upcoming Netflix series “Wild Babies,” RÚV reports.

Narrated by Helena Bonham Carter, the eight-part series explores the trials and tribulations of baby animals such as elephants, cuckoos, pangolins, seal pups, mongeese, and macaques in the beginning of their lives.

Arctic fox cub Silver is followed in episode 7, “Hostile Homes,” which also features baby penguins and adolescent lions. The episode, which was shot in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the Westfjords, includes the first-ever footage of Arctic foxes swimming. This is rather remarkable, as the animals famously hate getting wet. However, by overcoming their aversion to immersion, Arctic fox parents are able to catch more prey and thereby increase the chances of their cubs surviving. The episode also shows the cubs learning to swim themselves and hunting for the first time.

The footage for the episode was taken over July and August last year, when the film crew accompanied scientists from the Icelandic Institute of Natural History on their field visits to Hornstrandir. Mammalian biologist Ester Rut Unnsteinsdóttir chose appropriate locations for filming, ensuring that the foxes were respected and undisturbed by the presence of the crew for the duration of the shoot.

“Wild Babies” is on Netflix now.

Environment Agency: Fox Hunting No Longer Serves Its Purpose

The Environment Agency of Iceland says that fox hunting in Iceland no longer serves its intended purpose—to protect sheep and birdlife—and is costing the state and local municipalities more and more every year. Fréttablaðið reports that 56,000 foxes have been hunted in Iceland in the past decade, with a cost of almost a billion krónur [$7.65 million; €6.65 million] to the state.

A ‘mythological battle’

The arctic fox lives in polar regions around the world and is currently listed as a species of least concern by the World Wildlife Fund. In 1979, there were only 1,200 of the animals in Iceland, but the population grew to just under 9,000 by 2007. Between the years of 2008 and 2010, there was a 30% drop in population, but it has been relatively stable in recent years, even as hunting has increased. As of this summer, it was estimated that there were roughly 9,000 – 10,000 Arctic foxes in Iceland. The species is protected within the confines of the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the Westfjords, but outside of these bounds, hunting the animal is allowed, and even encouraged monetarily.

“Icelanders have given the arctic fox many names which could be related to the ‘mythological battle’ between the humans and the foxes since the early decades of the settlement 1100 years ago,” explains the Arctic Fox Centre. “At first, foxes were trapped for the valuable fur but soon the competition for the few resources became too complicated and the foxes were killed to protect lambs and other stock animals. Nowadays the foxes are still hunted throughout the country, where it is believed that protection of livestock or eider farms is needed. Winter hunting is also conducted in all regions of the country and “den-hunting” (killing all the animals at a fox den), one of the oldest paid jobs in Iceland, is still performed. The fur, however, is not used anymore since it became [worthless] with the emergence of fur farms some decades ago.”

Hunters paid for every fox killed

The argument that foxes must be hunted in order to protect livestock and birdlife has also been strengthened by public perception of the fox as a vicious predator. “The fox is said to be cunning and cruel,” noted the 1961 short documentary Refurinn gerir greni í urð (‘The fox makes its den in the scree,’ watch here, in Icelandic). “So it is getting its just desserts. It is killed on sight wherever it is encountered.”

Screenshot from short documentary Refurinn gerir greni í urð (Ósvaldur Knudsen; 1961)

This way of thinking is quickly losing traction among experts and politicians alike, however. “Livestock doesn’t appear to be suffering,” says Steinar Rafn Beck Baldursson, a specialist in hunting management at the Environment Agency. He notes that the agency has put out calls for reports of foxes killing sheep and birds but has only received the occasional notification of foxes getting into eider nests. When asked why foxes don’t pose the same threat they once did to sheep, Steinar Rafn has a very simple supposition: sheep no longer give birth to their young in pastures. “In the past, foxes hunted newborn lambs or went after sheep when they were in labour.”

Last year, 7,227 foxes were hunted, marking a 40-year high. This creates a significant financial burden on the state, as local municipalities are obliged to pay hunters for every fox they kill between the fall and the spring. The annual cost of this has increased dramatically over the years. In 2011, ISK 67 million [$512,742; € 445,349] was paid out to fox hunters. This total ballooned to ISK 134 million [$1.03 million; €890,699] in 2020. The state has been paying a fifth of the cost since 2014, as a way of offsetting the financial burden on large, but sparsely populated municipalities.

See Also: This Season, Ptarmigan Shooting Confined to Afternoons

Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson recently submitted a bill to parliament that would have amended current hunting legislation and established a management and protection plan for the arctic fox in Iceland. The bill did not pass.

Steinar Rafn says that the Environment Agency had hoped the bill would pass but is currently considering similar proposals for changing the legislation on ptarmigan hunting—the fox will come later, he says. “What would make the most sense would be to review this whole system,” he says. “Maybe only winter hunting and no den hunting.”

Take a Hike

A tale of Arctic foxes, empty beaches, and a journey into the Hornstrandir wilderness The northern coast of the Westfjords is known as Hornstrandir. To get there, you drive as far as you can go and sail for as far as the local boat will take you. After that, there’s nothing to do but walk, […]

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Arctic Fox Population Stable in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

arctic fox Iceland

The arctic fox population has increased across Iceland since reaching a historic low, but the population in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the Westfjords has remained stable. Mammalian ecologist Ester Rut Unnsteinsdóttir says there are natural reasons foxes aren’t increasing in the reserve that could include, simply, a lack of space.

“It’s really just natural processes that impact and limit the stock. There is only room for a certain number,” Ester stated in a radio interview for RÚV this morning. Ester is a mammalian ecologist who recently completed a three-week research trip to the Westfjords reserve, where she was examining the local fox population. “What is so remarkable is that I have looked at the population across the country and there has been a large increase from the historic low and especially since 1996, 1997. I have also compiled data from the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve and it does not seem to have increased there since the fox was protected [in 1994].” Harsh winters were another factor Ester mentioned had a limiting effect on the fox population.

The Arctic fox is the only wild terrestrial mammal native to Iceland. It arrived on the island approximately 10,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age. In the 1970s the population reached a historic low and numbered under 1,000. Today it is around ten times that size, numbering between 9,000-10,000 animals, according to Ester. While the fox is protected, fox hunting is permitted outside nature reserves, subject to regulation by the Environment Agency. While arctic foxes are endangered in parts of Europe, they are not considered at risk in Iceland.

In 2019, Ester assisted the BBC with filming a documentary in Hornstrandir that followed an arctic fox cub in its first year of life.

Volunteers Collected 2.6 Tonnes of Trash in Nature Reserve Hornstrandir

Trash in Hornstrandir

The volunteer group Hreinni Hornstrandir (Cleaner Hornstrandir) finished its first trash clean-up round of the nature reserve Hornstrandir in the Westfjords, led by Ísafjörður local Gauti Geirsson. Russian vodka and Alaskan shampoo along with fishing equipment and plastics in all shapes and forms were part of this year’s 2.6 tonne haul. Since 2014, the group has headed annually to the area to clean up plastic, trash, and litter over a weekend. A group of twenty volunteers, mainly locals from the Westfjords, collected trash over two days this time around on June 19-20. The main bulk of the weight, close to 80%, is believed to be derived from the fishing industry such as buoys and nets.

Historically, the area has received large amounts of driftwood from all around the world. In the last couple of years, plastics have been a large part of the trash. “Fishing gear, nets, buoys, plastic packaging, containers. Every kind of plastic. You’ll find it all there,” says Gauti. “One year we found a cognac bottle with Arabic lettering, it makes no sense that it wound up in Hornstrandir. We’ve found experimental buoys, transmitters. Stuff from both sides of the Atlantic. The trash comes from all around. USA, Canada, UK, Norway, Spain, and from the whole of the North Atlantic area.”

The volunteer group along with the crew of the coast guard vessel Þór. Photo from Hreinni Hornstrandir/Geir Sigurðsson

5 years between clean-up in Hornvík

This year’s outing was a milestone trip as the first round of clean-up was now completed, by cleaning the coves Smiðjuvík, Bjarnarnes, and Hrollaugsvík. The group also headed back for a second round in Hornvík. Hornvík was originally cleaned in 2015 when volunteers picked close to two tonnes of trash in the area. Five years later, 1.1 tonnes of trash was the haul.

Gauti Geirsson started the initiative in 2014 with the goal of removing trash in the nature reserve and to raise the issue of plastic and other trash in the ocean. “What lit the spark was when I was working on passenger boats heading with travellers to the area. I was taking a French photographer to the area, and he wanted to take a photo of Hornbjarg cliff. But he was so appalled by the amount of trash in the area. He took photos of the trash instead and ended up opening an exhibition in France. I thought to myself that I had to something about it, and the idea of the clean-up came up,” Gauti says. “I needed a foreigner to open my eyes towards the issue, as I had become accustomed to it, seeing the driftwood and the trash from the fishing industry. At the time, I didn’t know any better than that these matters were in good shape, but we have to get the plastic out of there before it starts breaking down into nature.”

Gauti Geirsson along with Óli Rafn Kristinsson. Photo from Hreinni Hornstrandir / Geir Sigurðsson

“It was a matter of pride. For the first trip, it was more a case of we have been caught with our pants down and we must do something about it. Then, over time, factors such as ensuring biodiversity in the area and protecting the ecosystem come into play. There were microparticles of plastic breaking down there. We have been trying to raise awareness on this issue. There’s not only trash out on the ocean but we’re also seeing a lot of trash blow from land out onto the ocean and beaches, so people really have to watch what they throw and where,” Gauti adds.

2.6 tonne haul

Although 2.6 tonnes sound a large number, the record amount for one trip is 9 tonnes in 2018, collected by a group of 50 people. “It was a great weekend, with a particularly good group of volunteers, it’s a key to our operation to have good people with us, as it’s hard work. Yes, 2.6. tonnes are fine. One should be happy that it is not more. The main goal is that the amount decreases year from year and that the area becomes as clean from trash as possible. But note that the areas we covered this time around are not large in size, as most of them were relatively small coves,” Gauti says, referring to Smiðjuvík, Bjarnarnes, and Hrollaugsvík.

Geir Sigurðsson with a haul. Photo from Hreinni Hornstrandir

Starting a movement

The group hopes that the Hornstrandir clean-up raises awareness of trash in the ocean. “Plastic in the ocean is a large problem, and especially so for a fishing nation such as Iceland. The plastic particles end up in the fish, which we export to other countries. Who wants to eat a fish full of plastic? So, all kinds of factors started to come into play once we dove deeper into the subject,” said Gauti, who studies at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromso. He hopes that others may follow suit around the world and organize clean-ups in their local area. “It’s for self-motivation as well. I was 22 when I started this, and if a 22-year-old wants to make a change in the world he should just do it – rather than waiting for someone else to do it. To inspire others to take on issues such as these. If everyone does their part, the workload is not too heavy,” Gauti says.

“I want to encourage people to do what they can. Both in daily consumption and in caring for the environment. And to clean up trash. It does not need to be a full-scale clean-up with a coast guard vessel by your side. It is just as effective to clean 10 kilograms of trash in your local beach as it is here in Hornstrandir,” Gauti states.

A mound of trash in Smiðjuvík beach. Photo from Hreinni Hornstrandir/Geir Sigurðsson

Joint operation with Coast Guard

As the area is a nature reserve, it takes some effort to remove the trash from the isolated beaches. “The trips vary each year, depending on the surroundings as Hornstrandir is a diverse area. Fishing nets and ropes get stuck in sand beaches while plastic containers and buoys are wedged in between large stones in more rocky beaches. The group has been comprised of between 20-50 people, depending on the size of the clean-up area,” Gauti adds.

Icelandic Coast Guard assisting the volunteers. Photo from Hreinni Hornstrandir/Geir Sigurðsson

The Icelandic Coast Guard assists with the clean-up and has done so since 2015. “It’s fantastic to have the Coast Guard with us. We could not do it without them. It can create a certain uncertainty, however, as they could be called upon for assistance elsewhere at any time. So, we’ve got a plan A, B, and C,” he says. Borea Adventures, a local tour operator, brought the volunteers over from Ísafjörður to the clean-up area, while the coast guard vessel Þór transported the volunteers back, along with the tonnes trash. Once in port, The Environmental Agency of Iceland and the municipality of Ísafjörður handle the disposal of the trash.

Hornstrandir natural reserve

Located in the Westfjords, Hornstrandir is Iceland’s northernmost peninsula and has been protected since 1975. The last locals left the area in the 1950s, leaving the area uninhabited. An area of great natural beauty and harsh weather, it is popular with hikers. Hornstrandir is home to swathes of birds in the towering cliffs, as well as being a refuge for the arctic fox.

For further news on the initiative – head to www.facebook.com/hreinnihornstrandir

Life Thriving at Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

A recent field trip to the Hornstrandir Nature Preserve to assess the status of the Arctic foxes living there brings with it a bit of positive news–not only is wildlife thriving in the reserve, there’s also every reason to expect that there will be a fair number of mated Arctic fox pairs and, therefore, fox cubs, this spring. The happy tidings come via a post on the Icelandic Institute of Natural History’s (IINH) Facebook page.

Scientists visited the reserve from March 15 – 25. Their recap paints a picture of a mercifully human-free and wild environment on the cusp of spring. “It was the picture of winter and stormy in Hornvík for the first two days,” reads the post, “and the surf was high. In the following days, the beach filled with newly dead wolf fish, both big and small. This was the favourite catch of foxes that walked the shores, collecting fresh fish, which they carried up to the shore ridge and buried here and there in the snow. One vixen drug a 40cm [16 in] wolf fish up a cliff; she could be seen all the way at the top…sleeping atop her catch. After a good nap, she woke, shook off the snow, and took a nice bite of the fish before she continued upwards, close to the cliff’s edge.”

Náttúrufræðistofnun Íslands

“It snowed most days, deep enough to submerge the short-legged creatures as they waded through the powder,” the post continues. “Foxes are hardy animals, and everything seemed to be going swimmingly for most of them. Several of them were courting and if all goes well, we can expect that there will be a number of pairs with litters this spring, unlike what happened last summer when there were only cubs in 25% of the [foxes’] territory in Hornbjarg.”

Náttúrufræðistofnun Íslands

Other than fulmar, birds have not started nesting en mass on the Hornbjarg cliffs, reported scientists, although a group of kittiwakes were briefly observed, as were guillemots, though not nearly in the numbers that are typically found at Hælavíkurbjarg: “…there are often hundreds, even a thousand birds by this time.” Ravens were spotted, busy “at the same occupation as the foxes, that is, collecting fresh fish that had washed ashore. A few purple sandpipers were also on the beach and didn’t let the waves bother them. Almost a hundred eider ducks were seen here and there on the ocean, three king eider among them, dozens of long-tailed ducks, a few black guillemots, and red-breasted mergansers. A few glaucous gulls pecked at starfish that washed ashore in the surf and a few great black-backed gulls were also seen. Almost 20 snow buntings took up residence near the house at Horn, and on falcon was seen on the wing.” Gray and speckled seals also made their appearances on the vibrant shoreline.

Náttúrufræðistofnun Íslands

“You could say that it’s business as usual in terms of the flora and fauna of the area,” concluded the post, “despite the global pandemic and gathering bans nearly everywhere.”

Arctic Fox Gets Starring Role in BBC Documentary

Arctic fox cubs in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the Westfjords have a starring role in the new BBC nature series Animal Babies: First Year on Earth, RÚV reports. The series, which began airing earlier this week, follows “six iconic baby animals as they face the challenges of surviving their first year on Earth” and also features the Savannah elephant, mountain gorilla, spotted hyena, Southern sea otter, and toque macaque.

Mammalian biologist Ester Rut Unnsteinsdóttir has studied the Arctic fox for two decades and assisted the BBC with the making of the documentary. She noted that Fela, the fox cub that the series follows, was specifically selected because he has white fur, and therefore easy to differentiate from his siblings, all of whom have black fur. Choosing to follow such an easy-to-spot cub did, however, carry certain risks for the documentarians, Ester said, as many Arctic fox cubs do not live very long.

“It’s not guaranteed that all cubs will survive the whole summer, so to choose a cub that looks different than the others and to always try to find him again was a bit difficult, and people were really stressed about it.”

The name Fela was originally chosen because the documentarians wanted to follow a female cub, but nature did not oblige them in this wish, as Fela is a male cub. “I sat with them for many evenings looking at video where I could see that this wasn’t a female cub. The filmmakers were pretty sad about that, but they made their peace with it,” explained Ester.

Although the documentarians were permitted to film the foxes in Hornstrandir, they were still subject to restrictions that were put in place to protect the animals. One of Ester’s primary roles, she explained, was to ensure that filming proceeded according to the rules that had been set. This is especially important because Arctic foxes that feel that they are being encroached upon will often not take care of their young as well as they would otherwise.

“We set the condition that the foxes are left alone in the evenings and all the way to the morning so that they have the night to rest and hunt,” Ester says.

The filmmakers had also intended to shoot ‘behind the scenes’ footage as extra content and so briefly sent a second team to film the primary team of filmmakers. The foxes, however, were not fond of having so many people in their habitat and so the second team was sent away and the ‘making of’ featurette scrapped.