sailing with puffins and whales
from June 2009:
For my ninth day on the road I was able to leave my luggage at the guest house since I was staying there for one more day. This was the day to explore northern Iceland. To start off I drove to Húsavík, and booked a trip on the schooner Haukur to watch Puffins and see if we could find a whale. It was an incredibly beautiful day, sunny and warm, but with gorgeous clouds piled artistically in the sky, just waiting for me to take pictures of them. Haukur is the only working schooner in Iceland, and although we were heading out by motor we would be sailing back in. Finding Puffins was easy since there are thousands of them all over the bay, but most of them were staying by an island a little north along the east side, Lundey. We headed up there and I took many pictures of the flocks of the little birds. When they are full of fish they have a hard time taking off and it was fun watching them run across the surface of the water trying to get up enough speed to fly. Next we headed across Skjálfandi Bay to look for whales. Far across the bay near the island of Flatey, we finally found our Blue Whales, a mother and child. We hung around them for a while, getting some nice pictures, and then raised sail to head back to harbor. Speeding along under full sail in a Schooner on a perfect day like this is something I won´t soon forget.
My next destination was Jökulsárgljúfur National Park. I drove east along the coast until I came to a dirt road which headed south to the waterfalls I was planning to see. After an hour dodging rocks and holes I finally reached the first of these, in Hólmatungur. Here a stream tumbles through more basaltic columns in a series of cascades. The after more bad roads I reached Dettifoss, which is the largest waterfall in Europe by the volume of water. It was fairly late in the day so the sun was lower in the sky. Since they have around 23 hours of daylight at this time of year the sun was going to be in that position for a while which was great since it made a permanent rainbow in the spume thrown up by the waterfall which was visible from a mile a way. I hiked in and got some great pictures as I took in the waterfall, then it was time to brave the dirt roads once more. This last stretch south to the highway was not so bad for the most part although I did have to go offroad a bit to get around a flooded portion. Another hour or two of driving and I was back at my guest house after a long day of fun.