After a windy and rainy night sailing along the north of Iceland, we woke up to beautiful sunshine and blue skies in the Westfjords, or Vestfirðir.
National Geographic Resolution came alongside the harbour in Ísafjörður, and our passengers parted for three different adventures in the morning. Some took a bus to the adjacent fjord, Álftafjörður, meaning the Swans’ Fjord. There they went on a hike along the beautiful canyon of Valagil and up to the waterfall of Valagilsfoss. The rock of the canyon is made of many layers, formed by multiple eruptions during the early stages of the formation of Iceland. Even though the outside temperature was only 11°C, it felt twice as high because of the absence of wind and the strong sunshine. The group later stopped at the Arctic Fox Centre in Súðavík, where they learned about Iceland’s only native mammal.
Other guests enjoyed an adventurous mountain bike tour along the road Óshlíð by steep cliffs and mountains. The rest of our guests went on a coach tour to visit a botanical garden and a small fishing village before enjoying a concert in front of a church.
In the afternoon, we were joined onboard by Icelandic geologist Sandra Snæbjörnsdóttir. She gave a presentation about her work at CarbFix on capturing and mineralising CO2 in basaltic rocks, giving us hope with new ways of reducing carbon in the atmosphere and fighting climate change.
Straight after the end of the presentation, humpback whales started surrounding the ship. We spent time on deck 8 with these magnificent marine mammals.
Later in the afternoon, we stopped by Vigur, the second largest island of Ísafjarðardjúp, where we observed many seabirds, including close encounters with arctic terns.
Vigur is also home to 3,500 nests of common eider ducks in the summer. Eider hens were barely visible, camouflaged in their nests in the grass. A family owns the island, and they live off eiderdown farming, which they taught us a lot about.
As we returned to National Geographic Resolution and continued our journey towards the southwest of Iceland, many blows of humpback whales were seen in the distance, adding to the nonstop wonders of this perfect day.