Whale Watching in Iceland
Having been closely connected with – and the poster child for – a whale watching company back in Australia, this pastime has become a favourite of mine and I endeavor to go out as often as I can. As luck would have it, my recent trip to Iceland coincided perfectly with their whaling season, and so a four-hour tour was at the top of my to-do list (much to the disappointment of my travel companions).
I’d had it booked months in advance, so when the day finally arrived I didn’t hesitate to drag my disgustingly hung-over pals out of bed at 6am. For most, this had meant a maximum of one hour’s sleep. We bundled into our SUVs and endured an icy two-hour journey to the boat terminal. I didn’t panic when we drove through a white-out, nor did it bother me when our Explorer nearly got tossed over a cliff by gale force winds – we were going whale watching, rain hail or shine. Unfortunately the tour operators didn’t share my enthusiasm and by the time we arrived our trip had been cancelled due to dangerous sea conditions.
While the majority of the group sat in the cars silently cursing me, my all-time bestie was not going to let me go home disappointed. We ran in and out of the pouring rain offering to pop a tit to any company that would dare to take us out in the disastrous weather. Our third attempt was successful and we booked our spots on an afternoon tour.
To kill a bit of time, we stumbled into a local restaurant for some brunch. What at first had appeared to be a café was actually quite a fine-dining establishment with one of the most colorful menus I’ve ever come across. Between us, we’d managed to order at least eight different edible species (horse, puffin and reindeer testicles included), but it was my order that was to undo the entire day.
I could never become a vegetarian, nor do I give a particular shit about animal cruelty, so on this occasion my boyfriend and I decided to try sashimi-style minke whale dressed in soy. It was light, tender and heavenly delicate – but it also turned out to be the last whale in Iceland’s waters…
Full to the brim with Free Willie, a wave of excitement came over me as we made our way back to the harbour. The boat left a lot to be desired in the way of comfort and luxury, but it was a sturdy enough vessel operated by an even sturdier-looking crew. Because of the pissing rain, we spent the first hour or so indoors, trying not to regurgitate our complimentary hot-chocolates. When they announced it was time to hit the top deck we excitedly stumbled downstairs to don our XXXL puffy janitor onesies, then made our way out onto the polar ice cap.
I’d been expecting to see a pod of orcas flanked by dolphins, or at the very least the blow of a few sperm whales, but after two hours of gazing into the bleak horizon in the freezing rain without so much as spotting a seagull, the crew announced we were heading home and would all receive vouchers to return another day. Fuck. I’d eaten the last minke. The worst part of the trip was the ride home – the seas had picked up a few feet and we were all looking very green. I don’t think the experience was enough to put me off whale watching for good, but I’ll probs never eat one again.