Akureyri – whale watching on the Eyjafjord

Humpback whales of the Eyjafjord, Akureyri – North Iceland

Like many other people, we had been on various whale watching tours in countries we have visited – this wouldn’t be our first in Iceland either. When we visited this amazing country 8 years ago we booked on to a whale watching tour in Iceland on our first visit out of Reykjavik. However, the weather for this was awful and all we saw was a few dolphins. No pictures either as ‘him indoors’ forgot to put a memory card in the camera… but the less said about that the better!

Fluke of one of the whales

Our second would be another whale watching tour, just 1 day previous to the one we were now partaking in, but out of Húsavík. We had heard that there had been a few sightings of blue whales on some tours up there, so not one to miss an opportunity decided to get booked in to a tour and try our luck. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful but did see a plethora of puffins and hand full of humpbacks.

Suited up in our arctic gear

Back to this tour – before booking I did a bit of research and decided on the 2 Hour humpback whale watching tour starting in downtown Akureyri in North Iceland. The tour would take place on the Eyjaford which is narrow and deep with sheltered waters. It is approximately 60km long and between 6-10 km wide. This makes it ideal feeding conditions for the humpback whales, especially in the summer months of June, July and August.The boat we were in was a RIB boat which allows you to get closer to the whales (more about that later!) With only 12 passengers on each boat you were pretty much guaranteed a front row seat in any whale viewing to be had. The RIBs boats used are small and fast. You get to the viewing areas far quicker and also cover a bigger area, which obviously means a greater chance of spotting whales and other wildlife.

The size of the humpbacks was incredible

Checking in at the pier office we were kitted out in some great arctic weather gear to keep us warm on the ocean – cue special over suit, gloves and goggles. On board the boat we were given the safety rules, how to ride comfortably in the boat and how the boat would interact with the whales whilst respecting their space and the surroundings.

Spotting the blow holes is one of the easiest ways to find the whales

It wasn’t long before we came across our first humpback whales. We were told the name of one whale was ‘Giljagaur’ (named after one of the thirteen Yule Lads of Iceland) who seemed to be ‘sleeping’ along with another whale ‘Grenade’. We moved away from this area to leave them be and let them rest.

Watching the whales in their natural surroundings is amazing

Just a few minutes ride away we saw yet another humpback. This one was known as ‘Tattoo’ named for the markings on its fluke. This was quickly followed up by another whale named ‘Dark Knight’. It was incredible as they were showing their flukes so many times – quite a sight to behold, especially in the incredibly beautiful setting of the Eyjafjord.

Another amazing fluke

Our time on the boat was coming to the end, but the whales had one last surprise for us. Three of them had now gathered together, although not sure which 3 they were. The were parallel with our boat, seemingly floating then they turned towards us and dived down right next our boat showing their beautiful flukes.

Far too close to get a good picture!

Far too close to get a good picture!

With the finale performed, it was time for us to head back, but not before heading up to see a waterfall nearby. We were asked to hold our hands out and floated right into the mist and felt the heat. This wasn’t a ‘natural’ waterfall, the waterfall was a consequence of drilling nearby. The drillers had hit a natural source of geothermal water and needed to divert the water somewhere.

The warm steam from the waterfall can be seen here

If you fancy taking a look at the video I put together then it is here…