The chilly waters off Iceland‘s coastline help a selection of maritime everyday living and give the fantastic opportunity for whale seeing, specifically all through the period of time from April to September. Whales, dolphins, seals and porpoises are on a regular basis viewed in their organic environment on boat visits out of Reykjavik. And at times, if you are extremely lucky, you may perhaps even see basking sharks.
Although there are lots of whale seeing products and services working out of Reykjavik, being aware of who to pick out can be a challenge. With the bigger vessels, your look at could possibly be a very little more distant and the capacity to transfer to get the most effective look at could be to some degree limited. With smaller boats these kinds of as ribs, you’ll have increased manoeuvrability and might have a increased chance of having ‘up close’, but this not give you with the your wished-for amount of comfort and ease, specially if the weather is unfavourable.
We went with Harpa Yachts, who provide the ideal combination of excellent visibility, consolation and manoeuvrability, aboard a luxury yacht the place you can escape the crowds and profit from an encounter with fewer travellers, and with nearby and individual service on board.
Harpa Yachts is a spouse and children enterprise that has been giving cozy whale, dophin and puffin viewing cruises from Reykjavik considering the fact that 1998. The founders and entrepreneurs were being pioneers of whale watchting journeys in Reykjavik. Their most important target has been on a personalized, quality serivce aboard their nicely-maintained 70-foot MY Harpa yacht, fully equipped with a salon, lounge, bar and a fly bridge with 360-diploma views. They also have MY Amelia Rose which is 108 toes extended, generally made use of when the weather conditions is less superior, and their latest addition, the 50-foot MY Axel Rose utilized for scaled-down teams and exclusive trips.
Cruises depart from Reykjavik Outdated Harbour in downtown Reykjavik and head out to Faxaflói Bay, a massive bay in south-west Iceland, amongst the Reykjanes and Snӕfellsnes Peninsulas.
“Welcome aboard this one-way trip to Greenland…” mentioned Capt Einar above the tanoy system as we departed the harbour at Reykjavik. By this time, we’d bought made use of to Icelanders making the most of a joke or two from other excursions we’d been on, but we did surprise if some other travellers were being momentarily a little bit panicked by the announcement!
We departed Reykjavik, hopeful of observing whales but at the similar time realising that we have been working with nature and a productive sighting was by no implies assured. That claimed, most outings are successful, particularly in the peak Summertime months of July and August.
The vessel is beautiful and was originally crafted in Italy by Cantieri di Pisa. She was acquired by Harpa Yachts in 2012 from homeowners in Greece and sailed to Iceland, before becoming modernised in 2017-2019. She can keep up to 35 passengers, guaranteeing that you have a fairly personal whale viewing encounter.
As we ventured out into the bay, we saw occasional puffins – frequently stretched out in a line of 50 percent a dozen or so – with a lot of carrying sand eels in their beaks, no question getting them to their younger. Iceland’s nesting grounds account for about 60% of the world inhabitants of Atlantic puffins all through the Spring and Summer season, so there’s a superior probability you’ll see some, even if it’s from a distance.
Of system, the key goal of our excursion out to sea was for a whale sighting and that was so considerably eluding us, despite the finest efforts of our captain and crew. As quite a few as 23 distinctive whale species have been recorded off the shores of Iceland, but only 12-14 of these are viewed as to be typical inhabitants.
The vessel has an observation deck at the top and passengers were suggested to say a time on the clock if they must place something (for illustration, “3 o’clock” if there was a sighting on our starboard facet) to support many others know exactly where to glance.
Anyone was scouring the sea hoping to see something but it appeared we ended up out of luck.
Then all of a sudden, we experienced a sighting. A humpback whale!
Everyone’s gaze tranfixed on in which we’d just found it. There have been 3 or four boats looking for whales and just one of the lesser boats re-positioned itself for a far better watch, right before we saw it occur to the area again some minutes later on.
Here’s yet another variation of the exact photograph, cropped a minor tighter.
The humpback whale (or hnúfubakur as it is named in Iceland) generally stays underwater for 5 to 15 minutes. They are characterised by very long flippers and generally reside in solitude or tiny, unstable groups. There are believed to be up to 100,000 humpbacks around the world and they migrate a distance of 6,000 kilometres one way – the longest journey acknowledged for any mammal. They can be everything up to 17 metres lengthy (that’s about the duration of 10 older people laid on their aspect in a single line!) and up to 40 tons (the merged bodyweight of three double decker buses!).
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With a sizeable period of time having passed, and no even further sighting, it appeared our friendly whale had moved on. An notify came by way of on the radio that a whale had been sighted elsewhere so all the boats still left to try out to take advantage of that sighting. We stayed exactly where we were and our captain’s tolerance was rewarded when the whale appeared once once again, just as the other boats remaining!
Humpback whales are very well-recognised for their breaching acrobatics – whilst we by no means noticed this whale breach, we were being fortunate ample to see it occur to the floor on various situations. That on your own was a pretty specific working experience.
There was 1 last wave of the whale’s tail, recognized as a fluke, as if taunting the boats that had chosen to glimpse in other places. Lifting the fluke like this ahead of a dive is some thing that is specially characteristic of humpbacks.
With Harpa Yachts, we received to expertise a fun compact group tour, with seating selections equally indoors and outside although on board. Warm blankets are accessible, as is free WiFi, a bar and lounge, a restroom and expert and experienced crew. In the event of no whale sightings – which can come about on uncommon occasions as mother nature is not usually 100% predictable – a no cost ticket is also made available.
Whale looking at in Iceland is a special working experience that you will not want to miss!
Sadly, whales are even now hunted in Iceland regardless of an intercontinental settlement by the Intercontinental Whaling Fee (IWC) to cease all industrial whaling by 1986. Nevertheless, the follow of whaling in Iceland has viewed a sharp delcine and the nation has introduced that, owing to falling need, it will no longer hunt whales from 2024. With any luck , this will make whale looking at outings out of Reykjavik even more rewarding in the long run.
As well as whale viewing tours, Harpa Yachts also offer you a Northern Lights yacht cruise as properly as private yacht tours alongside the shoreline of Reykjavik, with unique seaside views of the city. On a private cruise, you can do just about anything from deep-sea angling to skeet shooting to golfing driving competitions.
Preparing a trip to Iceland your self? You can check out a video from our trip to Iceland below. Footage from our whalewatching tour can be noticed involving 5m 56s and 6m 03s: