Our last full expedition day in Iceland began at Flatey, a small island between the Westfjords and Snæfellsnes. After a short Zodiac cruise, we landed on the inhabited island and wandered by picturesque wooden houses while observing various Arctic birds, including puffins, redshanks, red-necked phalaropes, and Arctic terns. The small church was another highlight due to its decorative and modern paintings. In the afternoon, the ship went alongside the small town of Grundarfjörður on northern Snæfellsnes. After a walk or a short bus ride, we visited the Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall next to the majestic Kirkjufell Mountain. Whilst the ship sailed silently towards tomorrow’s destination, Reykjavík, the evening ended with the guest slideshow and the Captain’s dinner.
National Geographic Resolution
We woke up to stunning, misty views of Isafjordur, Iceland. Isafjordur is nestled in the Westfjords of the country’s northwest corner, and it is home to a mere 2,800 citizens. Incredibly colourful buildings and art cover the waterfront city, and a steep, green tundra and steep mountain slopes are in the background, offering guests a true “postcard moment.” Guests enjoyed a long hike to a hidden waterfall, a tour of the city’s flora and fauna, and finally, a tasting tour. After a particularly wonderful morning, we slowly cruised through the fjords on our way to Vigur. Almost everyone was out on deck to take in the dreamy landscapes. We spotted some wild horses on Aedey, plenty of puffins, and around 15-18 humpback whales! After learning about Happywhale and the art of citizen science, every person with a camera worked hard to get some photographs of the flukes. The underside of a humpback tail is completely unique, similar to a human fingerprint. As photos were taken, they were brought to Eva, our on-board marine mammologist. She was able to “Live ID” the whales! We positively identified nine flukes of whales previously spotted in Iceland. We uploaded the flukes to Happywhale’s website and shared them on the Facebook page, “Whale Sightings in Iceland.” The page collects cetacean sightings throughout Iceland. After our afternoon tea, we arrived on Vigur, a private island covered by grasses and home to countless birds, including eiders, puffins, and arctic terns. During nesting season, female eiders use their down feathers for nesting material. After eiders leave their nests, locals collect the down to produce filling for apparel. With our “tern poles” held firmly above our heads, 61 guests braved walking across the island, a known breeding site for arctic terns. We enjoyed Hjonabandssaela (“happy marriage cake”) made with fresh, locally grown rhubarb while we mailed postcards from the smallest post office in Europe! Our first day in Iceland was wrapped up with a barbecue buffet, complete with a donut wall!