Whale Watching from Reykjavík

Wayne M. Gore - Nov 30, 2009
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Iceland has some of the most fertile feeding grounds in the North Atlantic and herds of whales are moving through all the oceans of our planet. With such abundant ocean the waters around Reykjavík attract numerous species of whales to Iceland’s shores for nourishment. With an opportunity to bear witness up to 4 types of cetaceans in just one 3 hour tour Reykjavik becomes an ideal destination to admire these impressive giants. Also the location is conveniently in Reykjavik’s Old Harbor, just a 5 minute walk from the city centre.

By sailing just about 15 miles out from Reykjavik’s waterfronts you get to discover variety of many species, observe their ecology, relation and forms of socialization. Experienced guides are always on board to inform passengers about the trip, where to look, describe what can be observed together with an introduction and safety guidelines. The guides make sure that all questions gets answered so better understanding about the complexity of wild life can be obtained. Whales commonly seen are Minke whales, White-Beaked Dolphins, Harbor Porpoises and also even the magnificent Humpback whale.

It’s truly a special experience to observe these giant mammals in their natural habitat but since it’s a big ocean other interesting species could be seen on tours as well. Interestingly enough the whales do not seem to mind when the boat comes close to them and frequently they surface within just few meters from the vessel. While on the whale sighting grounds you are usually accompanied by various sea birds that can be spotted as well, such as Gannets, Puffins, Guillemots, Cormorants, Gulls, Kittiwakes and Arctic Terns.
The Puffin season is mainly from May 15th to August 15th and during that period trips include sightseeing around the Puffin islands where thousands of Puffins are inhabitant. Many times spectacular photo shoot opportunities are created during these moments. On the way back to harbor the captain stops the boat for skilled fishermen or first timers to try their luck fishing. All the fishing gear needed is provided and this often creates a lot of excitement on board as you are given a chance to catch yourself a nice meal before you get back to harbor. Crew members sometimes prepare the fish on board to serve a nice sushi for curious passengers. But all catches can be cooked “fresh from the sea” and dined at the restaurant Lobster-Ship in the Old Harbor for reasonable price.

The Atlantic Ocean can get a little rocky sometimes so if people think they could get sea sick, sea sickness tablets are available and offered prior to the trip or on board. When the weather gets a bit cold warm clothes are provided and you are also offered to sit inside the boat, where you can watch the whales and birds outside from large windows. You can even visit the wheelhouse to see how the equipment works and talk to the captain.

Every tour is different which gives each and every adventure its own unique personality.
Each tour only takes about 3 hours which leaves enough time to explore other aspects of Reykjavik’s beautiful Old Harbor and the city itself after the tour.
Iceland is a true paradise full of amazing activities, resources and untouched nature so to go for an unforgettable trip into the world of whales and sea birds in Iceland is just the beginning….but really a good one.

By Skúli Örn Sigurðsson

The whale watching company Life of Whales specializes in these kinds of tours and is the only company in Iceland that provides 3 different adventures in the same tour i.e. whale watching, puffins / bird watching and sea angling. Their boat is fast and can reach a speed up to 25 miles which means that a large area can be scanned while searching for whales and time can be used for other interesting activities afterwards as well.

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