Waterfalls and Whales

Husavik Travel Blog

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Just a taster, there are bigger falls over here.

The bus was a more of a mini-bus with four other people on board, leaving at 8.30am we were all on different trips once we arrived at Mvatyn, going our separate ways from lunchtime onwards. I was on the whale watching excursion in Husavik and the full tour of Lake Mvatyn and Dentifoss waterfall were also to be enjoyed by others that day. I struck up a friendly conversation with a girl from Barcelona who was staying in the same hostel; this also enabled me to get a photograph taken with myself in it, which will probably spoil this whole blog! She had also been on the whale watching trip the day before and had apparently seen a blue whale, she was amazingly blasé about seeing the largest creature of all time.  I’m sure I would have been like an overly excitable kid who had just been invited to go skateboarding in Willy Wonkas Chocolate factory with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny!

Our guide (strangely he never introduced himself) was pretty informative and as we had such a small group he seemed genuinely pleased that he would be able to make a few additional stops. The birdlife for which the area is famous for, was distinctly absent, probably due to the time of year; I’m guessing they had all migrated to warmer climes by now. It was a decent little tour despite this, getting an explanation for the forming of pseudo-craters (trust me you had to be there) and seeing some barren but still wildly beautiful landscape.

We had a brief stop at a viewpoint above Akureyri and then made our first real stop at the falls at Gothafoss.

Life on the edge.
These were fairly spectacular, but by all accounts were nothing compared to the falls at Dentifoss and Gullfoss, I would be visiting Gullfoss in a few days time. We had a short stop and continued on our merry way, our guide keeping us entertained with an informative dialogue and a few amusing anecdotes, though I’m not sure if he meant them to be as such. We stopped several more times to get out and have a wander around taking pictures and some further commentary from our guide. An American couple mentioned they were visiting Scotland soon and I took the opportunity to  recommend The Applecross Inn to them if they managed to visit the west coast of Scotland (I should be on a commission) and was later thanked for the tip by our guide for the morning.

We eventually meandered our way to  our stop off point where myself and two others parted company from the main group, all two of them, and waited for our respective ongoing transports. Mine was the last to arrive and I found a group of Icelandic Horses (don’t ever call them ponies, they’re very sensitive) eager to pose for my camera in the hope of a full spread on TravBuddy and a blossoming career as supermodels. The bus arrived, just four of us this time, all taking the whale watching trip in Husavik. There was  a mother and daughter from Jordan who had spent several nights at the tiny little village of Reykjahlio and were then travelling onto Akureyri and then to Reykjavik in the next few days.

We were dropped off in Husavik and had the choice of two boats offering whale watching in the bay, it was very flexible this tour. I had been given discount coupons for both from my hostel in Akureyri but decided upon North Sailing as it advertised itself as the longest established company operating out of the fishing village. There was a forty minute delay before setting sail, so I popped into a local restaurant and tried their clear pepper soup, with lava bread, which despite its appearance was quite filling, though I suspect this had more to do with the bread than the soup. I had just enough time to comfortably enjoy this before having to board my boat.

We headed straight out into the bay where several other boats were already positioned, a commentary was provided by a female member of the crew.

The famous horses, definately not ponies
It seemed there had been a couple of Atlantic Bottle-nosed Whales in the bay for several days and they had already had success with them at this position earlier that day, so were hoping to build upon this success.

As we approached the far side of the bay it became evident that there were a couple of whales present and they were in fact the ‘resident’ pair. Everybody on the boat was enthralled at our first glimpse of these fantastic creatures, at thirty odd feet long, they may not be as big as some of the ‘great whales’ but they were still pretty special. They appeared to be extra large dolphins to which they are obviously related. I had spoken to a few people before this trip that had been disappointed at ‘only’ seeing minke whales and I was astounded at their indifference.  The smallest of the ‘great ‘ whales maybe but even so anything thirty plus feet long has got to be worth seeing. These however were toothed whales as opposed to baleen whales and they seemed quite curious swimming close to the boats as eager to inspect us as we were them.  The only problem being that one of the boats seemed to be too eager and continually strayed too close causing the probably stressed whales to dive for several minutes at a time, appearing again often some distance away.

These whales are capable of diving for up to ninety minutes apparently, but fortunately for us they never remained submerged for longer than around ten minutes. We followed them around and at one point there were huge gasps all-round as we saw one breeching in the far distance. The boats all sped to the spot as quickly as possible and we saw several more breechings including a couple of double performances with both whales jumping almost clear of the water. It was an extremely impressive display and one I certainly feel extremely privileged to have witnessed. I read some of the literature on board about the whales and it described these breechings as very rare. I queried this with a member of the whale museum who was onboard making observations, and she explained that these whales rarely venture this close to shore. She had however only witnessed two breechings of any kind in all the times she had been out on a boat. We really did seem to have been very lucky.

Poser! Performing for the camera

The only downside for me was that we then continued to ‘harass’ the magnificent creatures for the remainder of the three hours that the tour lasted. We played a game of cat and mouse, we would speed over to wherever the whales appeared and they would stick around for a few minutes and then dive again only to reappear somewhere in the distance and so the cycle would be repeated. I would have preferred to have left these particular whales in peace after a period of time and gone off in search of further whales elsewhere, even if it had proved unsuccessful, I just felt they deserved a little time to ‘chill out’ maybe with a whale latte and cream cake or something, whatever whales do to relax. Though from a pragmatic point of view this is of course a commercial venture and they want people to go away with successful stories of their whale watching trips. In the end it is the by far the better of two evils, as this form of harassment is far superior to the kind which involves harpoons and killing.

We eventually headed back to shore and there was around forty five minutes before we were due to be picked up, leaving us all with a little time to kill. I had a choice between visiting the National Museum of Whales or the National Phallus Museum........ tough choice! Thirty minutes later after a whistle stop but interesting tour of the whale museum, I realised that there wouldn’t be time to go and look at the one hundred and fifty animal penises on view at the other very worthwhile museum. Dreadful shame, I’d just have to make it the highlight of my next visit to Husavik and Iceland!

A quick bus ride without any detours or stop offs and we were returned to Akureyri, this bus was pretty full and I was reunited with companions from the early part of the day. I was catching a flight back to Reykjavik later that evening so there was a bit of time to get something to eat and have a last look around the attractive city of Akureyri.

I returned to the pretty little coffee house from yesterday for a latte and a small cake, so as not to spoil dinner, and happily chilled out there watching the world slowly drift by outside. A little while later I ventured outside to find a restaurant for dinner, it definitely wasn’t mission impossible; I found a place about fifty yards away.

Husavik Church, blue sky
The restaurant had guillemot on the menu and I’m sure the English duo had probably eaten here the night before. I settled on an Icelandic lamb steak with a glass of red wine, which I thoroughly enjoyed, no need for dessert as I’d already had my cake and eaten it! Suitably satiated I promptly ordered a taxi to the airport which was horrendously expensive for such a short journey, the meter clocking up additional fares the moment I stepped inside.

A forty minute flight and another short taxi ride, this one seemed much more reasonable and I was back at the Aurora. I had lost my bed space to another Anzac called Scott, although I did tease him that I was going to kick him out later, I now found myself left with a bottom bunk instead and this suited me just fine. Most of the others were already in bed which proved a little problematic as I needed to unpack and repack for another trip I had planned for tomorrow. I’m sure you are aware of how it is, the quieter you try to be the more noise you make. I eventually gave up and retired to bed leaving the rest of my packing for the morning.

Real_PeaceWarrior says:
Thank you, easy when you have such great subjects.
Posted on: Feb 19, 2009
shirlan says:
Fantastic photos!
Posted on: Feb 19, 2009
Real_PeaceWarrior says:
I'm not sure about proud, but I did thoroughly enjoy every single moment.
Posted on: Feb 17, 2009
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Just a taster, there are bigger fa…
Just a taster, there are bigger f…
Life on the edge.
Life on the edge.
The famous horses, definately not …
The famous horses, definately not…
Poser! Performing for the camera
Poser! Performing for the camera
Husavik Church, blue sky
Husavik Church, blue sky
Life on the edge
Life on the edge
Husavik
photo by: Real_PeaceWarrior