Day 10 – Of puffins and whales

  • Post by Daniele & Ira
  • Jul 14, 2018

The alarm rang at 7.00 and it took around half an hour for us to wake up and leave the van to the best camp kitchen ever: 8 plugs. We charged our laptop while preparing our delicious hot chocolate and eating our delicious mini-cancer-muffins. At 8.30, we jumped on the van and we reached the bar from which the company we booked our tour with operates. Immediately after registering, we walked to the harbor and we boarded on an old oak ship called “Salka”, as the company. img

Here we have been greeted by a Spanish guy who was our ‘guide’ and the captain of the ship. We wore some warm overalls, put rain-covers to the cameras and set on the deck, while around 20000 guys from Taiwan boarded as well, of whom just 2 were speaking English, so the above mentioned 2 had to translate everything every single time the guy spoke. It took around 30 minutes to reach the so-called ‘puffin island’, where thousands of puffins lay their eggs and bring food to their chicks, in the meantime, we learned some new stuff about local birds.

img Puffins apparently can dive at around 80 Km/h and 80m deep in the water while holding their breath for 1m30s, and collecting fishes in their mouth, which in this period they bring 100% to their chicks, not eating anything themselves for 3 months. img

On the other hand, the arctic tern, also quite common, come here from Antarctica to lay their eggs, making the biggest migration in the animal kingdom, crossing the whole planet in a year. The island itself was very funny. All around the white bellies of puffins are visible, while they also surround the water and create black clouds over the sea. The boat passed reasonably close to the island and thousands of puffins were visible. They were not easy to shoot, at all, but we tried anyway. In any case it was fun to watch this amazing birds swim/run on the water and fly with those tiny wings flapped at 400 times/minute. After passing the island, the boat went closer to some mountains, where apparently two rivers flow into the sea bringing fishes that whales eat. On the way, we encountered several families of dolphins quite close to our boat, huge black dolphins, not exactly the ones we are used to see in aquariums. It didn’t take long for the ship’s captain to spot some white spray of water coming from a whale, and we started the chase. In all, we saw 6 different humpback whales, mostly alone but also two couples that were hunting together. It was amazing to see these huge beasts blowing air and then dive down lifting those very characteristic black and white tails. img We have been really close to one especially, probably not more than 40m, and we could see it quite well. The whole experience has been made much better by the social skills of the spanish guy who really killed it, between pictures with the asian guys, fun facts, information and hot chocolate with cookies. We were really sorry when we went back on dry land, despite the tour was more than 30m longer than it was supposed to be, and we decided to ‘treat yo’self’ again, so we went eating at the fish restaurant owned by the company from which we had the tour, which gave us 10% discount. img img Here we ordered tiger prawns with lobster risotto and shrimps with vegetables and rice, and obviously we took chocolate cake with sorbet and skyr with rhubarb as a dessert. The food was nice and even relatively cheap, so we left Husavik very satisfied: good cheap camping, amazing tour, good food and nice people, we will keep a very good memory of this tiny city. The next stop after Husavik was Godafoss, the god’s waterfall. The road to reach it luckily was very good and paved, so it didn’t take more than 45m before we reached the parking lot. img

The waterfall itself is short (12m) but beautiful, especially for the very deep aqua color of water.Here the legend wants that some Icelandic guy threw the status of pagan gods once they embraced Christianity (such a deal…), and from this the name comes. We had to walk on some stones to reach a good viewpoint, but unfortunately it was not possible to take many good pictures, since we had the wind against us that was carrying huge amounts of water sprays, which ended up right on the lenses. img

Our visit to the waterfall has been relatively brief, and soon we were again in the van, direction Akureyri, the second biggest town of Iceland (18000 people living here) with cute red hearts at traffic lights. Of this city, we wanted to visit the botanical garden (free, and also the Northernmost in the world) which was very easy to reach, since the city is actually very tiny. The garden is kept inside a public park which is very well kept and includes a big variety of flowers and plants, which is surprising, giving the hostile climate. img

After smelling colored flowers, and walking all around the park, it started to rain, so we decided to look for a campsite. We found one just outside the city, which is so huge it took 15m to decide where to park the van (and we ended up choosing a parking outside the camp to be closer to the kitchen). After a quick shower we fought for a while for a place to sit in the kitchen and once we conquered our spot we just had our dinner and used the laptop for a while, before the place started being so overcrowded that people were cooking everywhere and we decided to leave our spots to someone else. We are now writing from the van, with the natural music of rain on the ceiling, which hopefully will be more like a lullaby than nasty noise that won’t make us sleep. It is still early to say but we can update you about this tomorrow… we wish you a nice day and hope to meet you again for the next page 🙂 img