Friday, August 01, 2003

Whale watching this morning from Reykjavik, using the Elding whale-watching boat.

The star was a Humpback Whale. Good, close sighting of a young Humpback Whale, from as close as 60 feet. Super views of tail flukes and the whale spouting.

There are estimated to be only 10,000-15,000 Humpback Whales worldwide, about 5% of their pre intensive-whaling level. They winter around Iceland and summer in the Caribbean.

Also Minke Whales, plus a sail past an island where puffins are nesting.

Thursday, July 31, 2003


Climbed Helgafell today. This is the Helgafell outside Reykjavik, not the one at Stykisholmur. It was Icelandic. The weather deteriorated from overcast to high winds to rain to hail. The path got steeper and steeper. Nonetheless a memorable climb.

Trip to North Iceland - Headings for Last Few Days

Hardly a proper Blog entry, as heavy-duty touristing has got in the way.


Drove Reykjavik to Akureyri. It’s a long way to Akureyri - about 250 miles. Stop at Glambaer, which is a nineteenth century farmhouse, turf-built with a grass roof. Accommodation in Akureyri all in order. A very pleasant town.


Myvatn. The grand tour to Godafoss, the lake, around and beyond. The range and quality of bird-sightings was second to none. Great Northern Diver (singing, if that’s the word for the strange sound this bird makes). Red Necked Phalarope and chick at six foot range. Slavonian Grebe, again very close. Merganser. Harlequin. Barrow’s Goldeneye. Lots of others. Also visited the sulfateras and volcanic activity of Krafla volcano, which includes a very recent lava flow. No-one can speak of Myvatn without mentioning the midges. They bash into a car with a sound like falling rain. Out and about they are an ever-present nuisance. Face net strongly recommended and worn by most tourists.

Not my photo, but I couldn´t resist it.


Boat to Grimsey - just under four hours. This is Iceland’s only claim to be an arctic nation, as the northern part of the island is north of the circle. Spectacular bird cliffs. Puffins, kittiwakes and auks in their thousands. Very smelly. Duly bombed by the Arctic Terns.

Saw two Minkie whales from the boat, and brief and distant glimpses of others. A very flat sea but rather chilly (=very cold).


To Stykkisholmur. Stopped at Eric the Red’s farmhouse (a reconstruction). Climbed Helga Fell.

Accommodation in guest houses in Stykisholmur not available as they were full. So ended up in the Youth Hostel. A trip down memory lane.


Boat trip on Breithafjordur. Birds included White Tailed Eagle - there are about 50 pairs in Iceland. The fjord has very strange eddies, whirlpools, sea-waterfalls and currents.

By car around Snaefellsness. Rif and the Seamen’s museum. The beach at Djupivogur. Arnastapi. Lots of rain. And so back to Reykjavik.

Total distance of this jaunt to the north just over 800 miles. Iceland is big. About a hundred miles, maybe more, on roads which are not surfaced.

Three photos below, all rather large files. Godafoss deserves the memory use.


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