whale-watching in Iceland

Our trip to Iceland was almost a year ago and I have so little written memory about it, especially this – whale-watching. I’m not sure how, but sometimes in the wake of wild nature, something seems to awaken within us. And this was one of those experiences. 

On our last night in Akueryri, we had the option of going for a dip in the hot springs or whale-watching. I didn’t have a particular preference at that time, but I’m glad that we ended up heading out on sea by the end of the day. 

My memory on the details are slightly foggy by now, but I remember that we bought the tickets, went and ate dinner, before heading back out to the pier. It was around 9pm then, but of course, the light in these photos deceive as it was summer in Iceland – the sun set around midnight and bounced back up by 3am. 

We found the boat; a small-ish boat with lots of charm and a chatty captain. He explained the name on the hull –Askell Egilsson– saying that in his family, they technically switched the first and last names around throughout generations. It meant that his father was Askell Egilsson, him Egilsson Askell, and his son, Askell Egilsson again. Icelanders take their father’s first names as their last, as we had learned. 

We’d been watching the sea, eager to spot any signs of a whale. As the boat drew towards the mouth of the bay, we began to grow impatient, but were reassured that we would see them as soon as the waters were deeper. 

I missed the first few whales that were spotted. Someone would see something and shout, but when I turned around, all I heard was a leftover hiss and splash of water. 

Then I spotted my first whale. I know from the pictures that they look mostly like dark lumps, but seeing the grace and agility of creatures that are known as the largest animals that currently inhabit earth was something that incredible. I watched, mesmerised, as each new group surfaced and took a fresh new breath before diving back down to feed. 

It seemed that I could never tire of watching them. Our boat drew closer to a group of whales and they turned the engine off, so that we were left with a peaceful silence in the middle of the sea. The boat bobbed gently above the water where the whales went along with their routine. They told us that we could estimate when the next resurfacing was – eat, surface, breathe, dive, eat. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else in that moment and tried to hold on to every memory I could. 

It was late at night when we arrived back at shore. The sun was just setting as we drove back to our cabin and I snapped photos of it along the dirt road that we ran through. 

There were so many times during that month of travel where I reminded myself of how all of these were going to end, where I’d soon have to return to a daily grind to earn my living. But in Akueryri, living in a cabin on a hill overlooking a bay and going out to watch creatures I never imagined would take my breath away, I truly felt like it was where my life had peaked. 

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