After spending the fifth night of our visit to Iceland at the clean and comfortable Hrafninn Guesthouse (Raven Guesthouse) in the town of Akureyri, we took road 82 up to the town of Dalvik and then back-tracked to the tiny community of Hauganes where we were booked on the Whale Watching tour at 1:30 that afternoon.
This was May 6th, our daughter's 20th birthday, and the Whale Watch was her birthday surprise!
Hauganes is a community of 137 people and when we arrived we had to don bright red suits before boarding the boat - how cute are those!
They said that they were to keep us warm, but I think they were to make us easier to find if we fell overboard!
Stylish Floater Suit
The boat Niels Jónsson - with background of mountains and low cloud
Becky photographing Humpback Whales
Before we even boarded the boat, the Niels Jónsson, we observed a Humpback Whale in the fjord, so we were very excited about the boat trip.
Our trip was right at the beginning of the Whale sighting season, May 2017, and I figured we'd be lucky to see any whales, but within a few minutes the Captain of the boat spotted one and we headed in the direction of the spout he'd seen.
There she blows!
When whales come up to the surface to breathe, they make a spout of warm breath (some folks incorrectly think this is water, but it isn't), and they take a few breaths before diving below the surface again.
We saw many whales at a distance from the boat, but one whale took a deep breath and went down in a deep dive ... we waited about ten minutes for it to surface ... waited ... waited, then suddenly it appeared right beside the boat!
Humpback Whale beside our boat
It was such an amazing experience and a memory I will treasure!
Humpback Whale diving
Here is the same Humpback Whale beginning to dive, you can see the white fins, the head is not visible, but the dorsal fin is in the middle of the picture.
For two hours we observed whales ... whales surfacing, whales diving, whales frolicking! What a wonderful time we had!
One thing that impressed me about the Whale Watching company in Hauganes, was how respectful of the Whales they were. The captain did not take the boat too close to the animals, but kept his distance to avoid crowding or scaring the whales.
This paid off when the whale came up for air right beside the boat, so I knew that these cetaceans did not feel threatened by our presence.
Catch of the Day
The last half-hour of the boat trip was cod fishing - no sooner had the crew lined us up with fishing rods and bait, than the tourists were reelin' 'em in!
The captain then gutted and skinned them and gave them to those who wanted them, for their dinner!
Luckily, I didn't catch any fish as I had already requested that I be allowed to "catch & release" any fish I caught (which was met with a quizzical look as the Icelanders consume a lot of fish).
The duration of the Whale Watch boat trip is 3 hours, and the cost was 9,900 ISK or about $120 Canadian dollars, but it was worth every penny and it is an experience not to be missed, if you visit Iceland.
Heading back to shore - the last Whale of the day
As soon as we returned to land, we had to set off on our journey to Staður, where we would spend the night, which was about 3 hours drive from Hauganes, a journey of 245 kilometres.
North Star Hotel, Staður
Inside the North Star Hotel at 23:00 hrs - still light outside!
The North Star Hotel was the closest thing to a North American-style Motel that I saw in Iceland, the rooms were clean and comfortable and the price was reasonable and included a hearty breakfast the next morning!
When we settled down for the night, we noticed that it was still light outside - in Iceland it stays light for a long time - it went darker around 11:30 pm and around 3:00 am it was getting light again, but it was more like dusk the whole night.
In fact, there were birds outside our window, singing ALL night!
The next morning we had to be up, packed and ready to go by 10:00 because we were heading back to Reykjavik for our last full day in Iceland.
Scenes from yesterday, Day 5 of our Visit to Iceland
Look - no traffic
Morning mist on the mountains
If you don't like crowds, you'll love Iceland!
The Mountain Herðubreið
Boiling mud pools, Námafjall
Sulfur spewing Fumeroles
One last picture of Hverir Namafjall
My handsome new boyfriend - The Troll of Icelandic Mythology
Akureyrarkirkja Lutheran Church