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Iceland - Day 24 : Whales and puffins

Yesterday evening we had live music on the campsite, there apparently was a large stadium nearby. Today I wanted to take a whale tour and walk around some more. By chance I discovered a large park and botanical garden next to the campsite, which was very pretty. Then I walked south along the coast and some forests. There was another hot spring and people sunbathing. It looked like the south of France and there were even people swimming in the ocean. 

sunbathin in iceland
shore of reykjavik

I bought a postcard to send home. The souvenir stores mostly sold moss, volcanic rocks and glacial water. If I had known that I would have brought some while hiking. While I was eating a guy enthusiastically came up to me to say hi. At first I didn't recognize him but then I realized it was the Israeli hikiner I had met two weeks ago among the mosquitoes. The other one had gone home, but he now was traveling with two other friends. They had been hitchhiking along the southern coast. He would fly home in a few days but his friends would stay for another month. They had hitchhiked the golden circle, which is how the loop of Pingvellir, Geysir and Gullfoss is called. Thibaut arrived, he apparently had met the Israeli guy as well.

 

He asked what they thought of the golden circle and they all replied it sucked. It was actually pretty nice, but there were way too many tourists and everything was landscaped. The Israeli had been hiking alone for 3 days so we talked about what it was like to hike solo. He pointed out that it was actually because of Bart's girlfriend that I had gone hiking alone. I guess that is true, if I would have had the choice then I would still have prefered to go alone. I passed a flea market where they sold a typical Icelandic dish: dried fish. Those were fish that were beaten flat and then dried for ages, they tasted exactly as you would expect. After a small bite I had enough.

 

The whale watching excursion started with a small exhibition of whale bones. According to the brochure it was nearly 100% sure we would see small dolphin type whales and 89% sure we would see 10 meter long Minke whales. There were also larger ones but those where less common.

Baleen
dolphin skeleton

Suddenly a lady entered super enthusiastically. Apparently, the last boat (the one I had planning to take) was 10 minutes delayed because they had seen something remarkable. There was a large pod of 6 meter long whales south of us. Not only had the company never seen that species of whales in the 13 years that they existed, but there were also 200-300 of them. I thought 'that's my luck', but the lady explained the whales were still there and we would go there soon. That was really cool so I got all excited. Fifteen minutes later somebody arrived with bad news. Some of the whales had stranded, those had been pushed back in the water, but to be sure some boats had driven them further out into sea. Now they were too far away to visit. That was a pity, but it did mean we would search for larger whales instead.

reykjavik from sea

View towards Reykjavik

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After a while we saw dolphins. The man on the boat was faking his enthousiasm a bit too much. It was cool to see but the dolphins were far away.

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Spot the dolphins
 

After two hours of searching we still hadn't seen a whale, only a glimpse of two other dolphins. Instead we headed towards puffin island. We weren't allowed to get too close. Due to the distance and moving boat it was hard to take a good photo, but they were clearly visible by eye.

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Puffin island with many birds

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I need to buy a better camera

We headed back to the harbor. I was a bit disappointed we hadn't seen any larger whales. The whale watching and bus ride passed Gullfoss were nice, but if you compare it to the waterfalls and polar foxes I had just stumbled on in the wild it was garbage. On my next vacations I am not going to do these type of excursions again, they aren't real.

 

I guess the way the Israelis were travelling is the best. They had spent all their money on flights and then just tried to travel as long and cheap as possible. Although that is pretty tough, they had been hitchhiking non-stop for the past 6 days, you do experience the most. One day they had travelled 400 km.

 

Tomorrow is my last day in Iceland. I have seen everything I wanted to see. Ideally I would like to hike one more day in Iceland's interior and then walk directly into the plane, but that likely won't happen. As tomorrow will Sunday it will probably be a boring day. It is likely good to rest a bit, as I need to start my Master's studies two days after returning home. I guess I will just drink a lot of coffee.