In this second episode, and after introducing the Hornstrandir peninsula, Jean-François gives a portrayal of the arctic fox, also called vulpes lagopus. Sometimes curious and sometimes shy, you should quickly fall in love with this polar animal that changes colors according to the season ! 

Before meeting the arctic fox and for those who missed the first episode, Jean-François Lurol is an amateur photographer and an experienced adventurer who went to the northwest of Iceland for a six day trek in solo. Throughout 3 tales, he told us the elements and meetings that make of this adventure an unforgettable trip.

Péninsule du Hornstrandir Jean François Lurol EN


The arctic fox is the emblematic animal of Hornstrandir. The species arrived in Iceland several thousand years ago, during the last ice age, walking over the frozen sea. Stockier than its European cousin, the red fox, the vulpes lagopus weighs about five kilos in adulthood.

Its life expectancy does not exceed 15 years. Equipped for extreme conditions, the arctic fox may withstand temperatures of -50 °.

Arctic fox iceland
© Jean-François Lurol

You can observe this polar fox across the Arctic, Spitsbergen, Russia, Alaska, Canada, and the Scandinavian Alps.
In Iceland, the vulpes lagopus is present mainly in the Hornstandir, where it is protected for almost 40 years.

arctic fox by Jean François Lurol
© Jean-François Lurol

During my trek, from June 26 to July 3, 2015, I had the change to observe the arctic fox every day. Sometimes adventurous (my first awakening in this isolated part of the world was facing a very social fox), sometimes fierce (the fox cubs in particular are difficult to observe), the polar fox reign as a prince on the Hornstrandir Peninsula.

Renard polaire Billy Lindblom
© Billy Lindblom

If you go there, you will see it almost everywhere, especially in the Hornbjarg area where many of them live, because of the presence of birds. For if in other polar areas, arctic fox feeds on the leftover prey from wolves or polar bears, In Iceland the main food of this small animal consists of birds and their eggs.

arctic fox Paul Williams
 © Paul Williams

 The thick fur of the arctic fox is white in winter, allowing it to blend into its environment. It becomes dark gray in summer. When I crossed the Hornstrandir, at the junction of the two seasons, most of the foxes I met had both their summer coat and remnants of their winter fur..

arctic fox Emma© Emma

When you will be on top of the Hornstrandir cliffs, look at the side of cornices, burrows dug a few meters from the bird colonies. It’s likely that you see them…


 Bonus, a video that the Hiking on the Moon team loves: the diving arctic fox!



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