At Sea and Skalanes Nature Reserve

  • Daily Expedition Reports
  • 18 Jul 2021

At Sea and Skalanes Nature Reserve, 7/18/2021, National Geographic Explorer

  • Aboard the National Geographic Explorer
  • Arctic

This morning we awoke to calm seas and with the sun shining as bright and happy as it was when we retired last night. Just as breakfast was about to be served the call came from the Bridge to grab cameras and get on deck—a large pod, perhaps two, of orcas had been spotted ahead on the mirror-like sea! And what a rare treat it was. A dozen or so whales, male and female were sporting, spy-hopping, and breaching in a show rarely seen. We stayed with the great black and white creatures, skin sparkling as the strong sun illuminated them, and enjoyed their energetic and play-like behaviour. This was turning into a great story to tell friends and family back home. However, there are more wonders and spectacles to be enjoyed in Iceland so, after well over an hour, the captain gently turned our vessel in the direction of our afternoon destination, Skalanes Nature Reserve.

 

During our transit to Skalanes, geologist Grace Winer gave a relevant presentation, “Iceland: La Terre Vivente – Geology of Iceland.” Iceland is a geologist’s dream with new rock being poured out daily onto the surface in the form of lava. Very much in the recent news. It is astonishing that this little island in the North Atlantic is so important in our understanding of the geological nature of our planet.

 

We reached our afternoon anchorage in Seydesfjordur right at lunch time. As we ate (again!) and took in the marvelous view the ever-busy crew and staff prepared the Zodiacs and landing site for our afternoon adventure. We were greeted on the shore by staff from the Skalanes Nature Reserve who were our guides for the day. This was a varied itinerary, taking in archaeology of the Viking Age, botany and soil preservation, ornithology (with our usual bird companions, the Arctic tern), striking views in every direction along the wide fjord, and a very friendly dog desperate to play and make friends with us all.

 

So far on this voyage around Iceland we have used several modern, air-conditioned coaches to take us to our destinations. Today we had a bus, an old bumpy bus with no fancy frills, except one—it drove straight through two streams and one full flowing river running down the mountainside. Why bother building bridges if you can just drive into the water and out the other side? This is a part of Iceland that most visitors never see. We were lucky to have seen it at all, let alone under such favourable circumstances. Thank goodness for expedition travel.

 

As we left the shore in the late afternoon, the temperature dropped and a thick fog came creeping along the sides of the cliffs and laid its thick grey blanket over the entire scene as if trying to keep our destination for tomorrow a secret.

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