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 Reykjavik some more. I discovered a large park and botanical garden next to the campsite, which were 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.
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 hiker 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 the loop of Pingvellir, Geysir and Gullfoss. Thibaut arrived a bit later, 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, but 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.
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 and been pushed back into the water. To be sure that wouldn't happen again some boats had now driven the animals further out into sea, were they were too far away to visit. That was a pity, but it did mean we would search for larger whales instead.
View towards Reykjavik
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.
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 the moving boat it was difficult to take a good photo, but they were clearly visible by eye.
Puffin island with many birds
I need to buy a better camera
We headed back to the harbor. I was a bit disappointed we hadn't seen any large 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 they 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 for free.
The following day would be my last day in Iceland. I had seen everything I wanted to see, although I ideally would have wanted to hike one more day alone in Iceland's interior before heading home. It was good to get a bit of rest though, as I needed to start my Master's studies only two days after returning home.