Iceland

ICELAND

In Iceland, whales can be observed all year round – and in the summer, all four seasons can be experienced at only one day, too!

Credit

Foto: istock/HarryKolenbrander
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Whales ICELAND

In Iceland, up to eleven different whale species can be observed. Especially in the north, you have very good chances to meet blue whales. Even in the winter time, Iceland is one of the best places to watch whales.

Whale tours can best be taken starting at Husavik or the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, but tours are also offered starting from the capital Reykjavik or from Akureyri close to Husavik. There’s also some places for opportunistic whale watching while doing a regular nature tour, i.e. from Vestmannaeyjar Islands in the south or from Neskaupsstadur in the east.

Husavik calls itself ‘Whale Watching Capital of Europe’ (with circa 2 500 inhabitants there are more than 50 000 whale watchers each year) and, at the same time, is known to be the most beautiful fishing village of the Northern coast. Here you’ll find a wonderful whale museum that is really worth a visit, they even have a giant blue whale skeleton there. With northsailing you enter the oceans on a traditional wooden boat, with gentlegiants with a Zodiac boat – here, you can get passes for multiple trips like for 3, 5, 7 days or more that can be used as many times a day as desired. Most commonly, minke and humpback whales can be observed, with a good chance of meeting blue whales, too.

For a few years now, blue whales are making their way to the waters off the coast of Husavik. Chances to encounter them are best from mid-June to mid-July when they are on their way north and from mid-September when they’re heading back south. However, during the last years they’ve been making their appearance earlier and earlier, sometimes being around already in April.

»Even in the winter, Iceland is one of the best places of the world to observe whales – mainly orcas and humpbacks.«

A few years ago, you had the best chances to see blue whales in the waters off Snaefellsnes Peninsula. This area was even among the best places in Europe to meet them. But their migration seems to have changed a bit, now they’re are mostly seen around Skjalfandi Bay / Husavik in the north.

But you still can see a lot if whales off Snaefellsnes Peninsula, especially orcas and sperm whales, but also minke whales. Tours start at Olafsvik (summer) and Grundarfjordur (winter).

In winter, Iceland is one of the best places in the world to observe whales, too. From November until March it’s particularly orcas and humpback whales that are hunting in the fjords rich in fish: A good time for orcas would be from November to April around Snaefellsnes, humpbacks are mostly seen in November / December and then again from February around Akureyri and Husavik. From Reykjavik the humpbacks are seen from February / March when the capelin arrives.

On icewhale.is, the most important Icelandic whale watching providers are listed and the most likely species that can be encountered are introduced. However, there is no detailed overview of which species can be best observed where and when.

Credit

Foto: shutterstock/Boi Theerawat

To Do ICELAND

Volcanos, glaciers, waterfalls, geysers, deep fjords, steep cliffs, black beaches – and, quite often, all four seasons on only one day: There hardly is a country richer in variety than Iceland. Perfect for hikes and road trips.

The National Street 1 circles the whole island – and therefore it’s mostly called circular road. If you start the 1 500 km journey, you will travel past glaciers, lava fields, waterfalls, geysers, fjords and black beaches and you will see everything Iceland has to offer – plus having great chances to experience all four seasons. About 7 to 14 days need to be calculated for the full tour. The tracks of the circular road are consistently well ridable, however, the tracks deeper into the country (f-roads) are adventurous from time to time.

Snaefellsnes Peninsula in the North West is often skipped by the circular road even though it is called ‘Iceland in a nutshell’ and is known to be one of the most beautiful regions of the country. With its 150 years old wooden houses, Stykkisholmur is one of the most beautiful coastal towns of Iceland. At the western end, Snaefellsjökull is located. This volcano is the entrance to the ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’. Kirkjufell – the most photographed mountain of Iceland – is here as well.

To the north of Snaefellsnes, the Westfjords are located. This may be the most remote but most exciting region of Iceland when it comes to hiking. The green cliffs are extremely steep and its beauty can hardly be topped. A lot of people consider this place as Iceland’s scenic highlight.

Vatnajökull in the South East is Europe’s biggest national park – and the biggest ice cap besides the polar regions and Greenland. This is the starting point of gigantic glaciers moving forward into the country and to the shores from between active volcanos. At the shores, icebergs are calving off into e.g. the ice lagoon Jökulsarlon. The circular road goes past there. At the lagoon, there are also offered tours through the icebergs in boats.

»Puffins sometimes are also called clownbirds which might be due to their flashy color or due to the fact that they have such an exciting, nervous nature and are flying around constantly.«

The one hot spring that all other hot springs all over the world owe their names to is situated in Iceland: The Big Geyser used to spit out into the air 80-meter-high water fountains until the 1950s. Today’s tallest and most active geyser is Strokkur, about 100 km into the country from Reykjavik. Every five to ten minutes, Strokkur produces a fountain with a height of up to 30 meters. The Big Geyser Center is located here as well.

The Blue Lagoon is well-known all over the world – a geothermal open-air swimming pool, directly between Reykjavik and the airport Kevlavik – which makes it extremely suitable for a quick bath after the arrival or before the departure. However, there are several similar baths all around the island, like e.g. Myvatn at the circular road near Husavik, the Blue Lagoon is just the most popular one – and the most overcrowded.

The little village Vik in the South of Iceland is the rainiest region of the country. To compensate this, one of the island’s most beautiful beaches is located here – with black sand and charismatic sea stacks jutting out of the ocean at Reynisdrangar. Near Vik, there is the old plane wreck which is a popular photo motif as well.

Puffins sometimes are also called clownbirds which might be due to their flashy color or due to the fact that they have such an exciting, nervous nature and are flying around constantly. In any case, a puffin safari is big fun – it is best to go on safari from late April until mid-August at the Vestmannaeyjar Islands in the South or at Hornstrandir (North) and Borgafjördur (East). You can meet them at the cliffs on the western end of the Reynisdrangar beach as well.

Iceland is located just below the Arctic Circle, so that neither midnight sun nor polar nights can be experienced here. But: As the Arctic Circle passes right above the Northern coast, the Icelandic nights are still pretty light in the summer – the further North the longer. Contrary, the winter in Iceland is very dark – meaning that chances are high to see Northern Lights, best between December and February.

Pictures ICELAND

On the 1 500 km-long circular road which leads you around the whole island, you can experience everything that Iceland has to offer: Glaciers, lava fields, waterfalls, geysers, fjords and black beaches.

Credit

Fotos: shutterstock/ronnybas, istock/Luka Lajst, shutterstock/Ziga Cetrtic, shutterstock/ruj, shutterstock/Marisa_Estivill, shutterstock/Tomas Rebro, shutterstock/Mink Walaiporn, shutterstock/CoolKengzz, shutterstock/iPics, istock/urbancow, istock/Horst Gerlach, istock/brytta, shutterstock/Jordan Lye, shutterstock/dmitry_islentev, istock/urbancow, shutterstock/Daria Medvedeva, shutterstock/f11photo, shutterstock/panpilas Lertpunyaroj

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