Iceland – The Land of Whales and Northern Lights

The seas around Iceland encourage whales of many species to visit, making this area excellent for whale watching. The northern port of Husavik is very popular and there are many whales sighted from the harbour at Reykjavik. However, this is still a lesser frequented region for whale watching tours with the tours conducted by the local fishermen.

In 1995, the old oak boat ”Knorrinn” took the first whale watching tourists to sea to sight whales in Skjalfandi Bay. This outing gained in popularity and now there are six of these restored antique oak boats operating whale watching cruises in the area, with two of them traditional schooners. Besides minke whales, there are humpback whales often seen frolicking in these waters. Other whales seen in Iceland are sperm, northern bottlenose, pilot, narwhal and beluga.

Unfortunately, for the whales, commercial whaling began again in 2006 with a quota of nine fin whales and thirty minke whales per annum. In 2007, the Ocean Biology Institute recommended a catch of four hundred minke whales!

Iceland is a most interesting country to visit. In winter there are the Northern Lights and in summer the whales and the midnight sun. Many volcanoes, waterfalls and geysers sprouting steam from the ground are also sights that are different for you to experience and photograph as memories of your trip.

The Iceland “Great Geyser” is the originator of the name geysers. Natural geysers are a phenomenon of the volcanic heat boiling underground water and the pressure finding a crevice in the earth to ‘let off steam.’ In time, a particular geyser will slowly end and start elsewhere in the area. Food wrapped in muslin and left covered with earth will actually cook in the ground during the course of the day.

A tour from Reykjavik to see Hengil volcano takes you close to it. You learn about the natural energy that volcanoes give off and have a chance to visit a geothermal power plant and cross the volcanic zone. This is a tour operating all the year round.

Near the town of Hveragerdi due to a volcanic chamber underground there are many hot springs found. Visiting the geothermal pool at Hveravellir is a special experience. The boiling water is sky blue with many smoking ‘fumarolees’.

To see the Northern Lights, it is best to be out in the countryside away from other lights. They are also a very special event when seen on whale watching trips – the open skies above the ocean makes them even more spectacular. They usually only flash for a few minutes, sometimes easy to see and at other times they are very faint, but certainly they hold your interest.

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