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May 29th was our last day in Akureyri. We had packed the night before because we needed to get on the road early for Dalvik where we were, once again, going to look for the elusive Humpback Whale. Maybe three times is a charm. When we arrived in Dalvik it was a beautiful sunny calm day.

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As we sailed out of the harbor there were some great views of the Eyjafjörður and the surrounding mountains.

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We hadn’t been out long when the captain sighted two male Humpback Whales straight ahead of us. He knew they were males because the females were down off of South America with the calves.

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We spent quite a while watching the whales swim around and under the boat. The scenery in the background was spectacular.

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Once again we stopped on the way back for some fishing. We both caught a couple of “big” fish. I had forgotten to mention on an earlier blog that we had some cookies and hot chocolate  on each of our trips. It was Swiss Miss chocolate which is made in our home town.

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The gulls were calm while we were fishing but once the guide started cleaning the fish all hell broke loose.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog the best location is in the back of the boat behind the cleaning station. This gives you a great view of the birds chasing after the scraps.

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This was our third shore lunch. You can’t say we didn’t get our money’s worth.

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After shore lunch we headed headed down to catch the Ring Road. We were heading Vatnsnes peninsula. These are some scenes from the drive from Dalvik over to Blonduos.

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I stopped to take a photo of some horses. When we stopped I took a photo of the farm sign. Almost all of the roads to farms have the family name on a uniform sign along the road. If there are more than one family with the same name there will be a I or a II after the name. The last photo is the farm nestled back among the mountains.

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We finally arrived at North West Hotel and Restaurant located right on the Ring Road. We checked in and then asked the young man what there was to see. He pointed out a waterfall and suggested a drive around the Vatnsnes peninsula. He said we could do it all in a couple of hours so off we went.

We drove down the Ring Road for a short distance before turning off on a farm road which led to the Kolugljufur Waterfall. It was overcast and a bit dark when we arrived. The waterfall was impressive but relatively small by Icelandic standards. Just as impressive was the canyon below the falls.

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For some unknown reason my wife wanted to start taking photos of road signs that she was finding on rural roads.

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As we drove down the farm road toward the waterfall we has seen quite a few horses. I put my big lens (Tamron 150-600) on so I could photograph the horses as we drove out toward the Ring Road. For some reason we had not seen many foals so far on our trip. As we drove through northern Iceland we saw many more.

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We turned off of the Ring Road onto highway 711 which is a dirt road that goes around the Vatnsnes peninsula. We turned off of 711 onto a smaller much rougher road to reach Borgarvirki Fortress. Apparently it has been used as a fortress and the Icelandic sagas mention that in earlier centuries it was used for military purposes. It dominates the surrounding countryside. Just as I was leaving I noticed this Ptarmigan on the edge of the cliff. It still had its winter colors.

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At this point it was starting to get dark out with all of the cloud cover. Our two hours were up and we had just barely started the drive around the peninsula.

Our next stop was the Hvítserkur Troll Seastack. There are trails down to the beach where some good photos can be had but given the late our we stayed on the cliffs overlooking the stack. As we walked back to the car the fog started moving in.

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It turned out that the Hvítserkur Troll Seastack was our last stop for the day. We hoped to see and photograph some seals along the west side of the peninsula but we couldn’t see any. Either they weren’t around, or they looked like rocks in the dark conditions.

As we drove through Hvammstangi we noticed that everything was closed. It was late and it was Sunday night. Our two hour drive took five hours. Either our host drives much faster than we do or he underestimated the time it takes to drive around the peninsula. Probably the former. We were starting to wonder if we would get dinner. Fortunately the North West Hotel has a Restaurant and it was open. Better yet the food was good.

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More photos and a complete listing of my Icelandic blogs can be found on my website.

May 27th we were off to Dalvik to go on a whale watching tour with Arctic Sea Tours Whale Watching. We didn’t know what to expect so we put on all of our cold weather gear before we headed out. I have a thing with bad experiences with boats so I was very apprehensive about going out on a boat.

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When we arrived they gave us some Icelandic 66 degrees North cold weather clothing which was really comfortable and warm. Here we are all geared up and ready to go. The weather was cool and overcast and I expected cold out on the water.

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We walked a short distance to the Harbor where we boarded the Draumur which is the smaller boat on the right.

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We headed out of the harbor and turned toward the mouth of the Eyjafjörður which is the longest fiord in Iceland. Here are a few shots of the mountains on either side of the fiord.

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I was all read to take photos of the whales but ended up taking photos of the ships wake. We were looking for whales in all the wrong places.

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Another whale watching boat stopped to see if we had seen anything. They were not having any luck either.

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We stopped to do a little fishing. It was our first time ocean fishing. All we had to do was drop the lure to the bottom and lift it just off the bottom and start jerking. It wasn’t long before the person who didn’t have a clue what she was doing caught the first fish. She didn’t really catch it she just hooked the top fin.

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On the way back to port our guide cleaned the fish and tossed the remaining pieces of fish to the gulls. I learned that if you want some good gull photos you need to be in the back of the boat behind the fish cleaning board. This puts you in a great position to watch and photograph the birds. It was a stitch watching the gulls chase the boat. They appeared to be walking on water.

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When we reached the harbor I stopped to take a photo of the fishing boats. We then walked back to the Arctic Sea Tours offices where the guide cooked up the fish.

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On the way back our tour guide said that since we did not see any whales we were entitled to go on another tour for free. I looked at my watch and saw that the next tour would leave in a half an hour. Linda went in and signed us up.

We were old hands at whale watching now so I went in and picked up our 66 Degrees North Clothing and we geared back up. A number of others who had been on the morning tour also went on the afternoon tour. We spent quite a bit of time talking with a mother and son from Canada. You never know we might have to move to Canada if Trump is elected.

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This time we took out the Mani which is the larger boat on the left. During the lunch hour the tour operator called around and found that whales had been sighted further in the harbor. The wind had picked up and was blowing out toward the sea so they needed a bigger boat.

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This is a shot of our guide. Notice the strange mittens he is wearing. They have two thumbs. He claimed they belonged to his grandfather. When rowing a boat your mittens would get wet. You could just turn them over and use the other side of the mitten.

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On the way down the fiord we passed Hrísey Island and the Hrísey Ferry.

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As we headed down the fiord the wind did not abate and the water became very rough. The waves were splashing over the sides of the boat. At one pint young man we were talking with was standing in a foot of water on the deck. The folks riding in the prow were getting soaked. No one got sick and a good time and a great experience was had by all. Unfortunately the wind prevented the boat from getting far enough into the harbor to find the whales.

We stopped once again to fish. Linda caught 2 and I caught 2. The first fish I hooked was a relatively rare Icelandic Catfish. I had no clue what I had on other than it was a fish. Apparently they needed a grappling hook to get it into the boat and they didn’t get it quick enough and the catfish spit the hook out. We were told that the catfish is the best eating fish they catch. Here I am with another fish. We filled the bucket up with fish.

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Once again the gulls were frantic to get the fish scraps that were thrown overboard.

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Two trips so far and still no whales. We were told that it is relatively rare not to see whales. Linda and I talked about it and concluded we could make one more attempt on the morning we were leaving Akureyri. Dalvik was in the same direction we were headed so we signed up for our third trip. Nothing makes me happier than to feel I am getting my money’s worth. Three trips for the price of one is a great bargain.

We caught so many fish that they had some left over and they were giving the cooked fish away. Since we had a kitchen facility and had a cooler along with us we took a bunch back for dinner. We ended up making fish chowder for dinner.

More photos and a complete listing of my Icelandic blogs can be found on my website.

My wife and I took a 21 day vacation to Iceland this spring. I’ve been documenting our experiences in a blog that I publish as I have a chance to look at our photos.

We did not have any particular goal in mind for May 24th, other than reach Seydisfjordur before dark. Not that it gets dark in Iceland this time of the year. The most spectacular part of the drive was along the Djupavogshreppur coast.

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Once again we woke up to a beautiful sunny day in Hofn. We drove over to the grocery store to get something for breakfast and then drove back to the Nyibaer Guesthouse to have breakfast.

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Before setting off for the day we decided to walk along the harbor. Fog and clouds hung over the mountains to the east. It looked like we would be driving into it.

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We headed out to catch the Ring Road driving east before heading north along the east coast of Iceland. These are a few of the views we had early in the morning.

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When we reached Hvalnes Nature Reserve we decided to stop and photograph the clouds hanging down over the mountains.

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As we walked along the black beach we found these flowers growing among the rocks.

 

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Heading north we encountered Iceland’s spectacular eastern coast. Djupavogshreppur has some of the most spectacular scenery you will find anywhere. We spent quite a while driving along the coast. I wish we had allotted more time to explore and photograph this rugged coastline. There was a lot of bird life on this leg of the trip. I only wish we had more time and I had pulled out my birding lens.

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We found this sea stack on a black beach and spent some time walking on the beach. I decided to put on my neutral density filter and try to capture the wave patterns against the black beach.

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This is one of the single lane bridges we encountered on the ring road south of Djúpivogur. It was rare to encounter a two lane bridge in Iceland outside of Reykjavik.

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When we arrived in Djúpivogur we stopped to check out the town and small harbor before driving around the fiord. We came to find it very frustrating driving around fiords. We could usually see the place we wanted to go but it seemed like hours before we actually arrived.

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This was a fish farm we encountered shortly after leaving Djúpivogur.

 

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At Pverhamar we encountered a gravel portion of the Ring Road. The Ring Road continued into the highlands at on to Egilsstaðir.  We decided to branch off on highway 96 and follow it along the coast. We were lucky we did because after a short drive we encountered a small heard of Raindeer.

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After driving around a number of fiords we entered a long single lane tunnel before catching highway 92 into the highlands for Egilsstaðir. There was still a lot of snow. If you look closely at the third photo you can see two pair of ski tracks heading into the snow. The skiers are just dots in the middle of the photo.

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By the time we reached Egilsstaðir it was getting late. We still had to drive over the mountains to Seydisfjordur so we started looking for something to eat. We noticed an N1 gas station and though about getting a hot dog but we discovered they has a veggie pizza so we gave that a try. It was really good.

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After fueling up ourselves and the car we headed over the highlands to Seydisfjordur. As we neared Seydisfjordur we could see it at the end of the fiord far below us.

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As we wound our way down the mountain we encountered Gufufoss Waterfall on the Fjarðará River. It is the largest of over 25 waterfalls on the river between the highlands and Seydisfjordur. It would have been great if we had time to hike along the river to view more waterfalls.

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When we reached Seydisfjordur We checked into the Post Hostel. From our window we could see a beautiful little waterfall in back of the Hostel so we decided to hike up to it. That’s me in the second photo getting some close-up photos of the waterfall.

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On the way down from the waterfall we had a good view of the town and the Danish Ferry that was in port. It runs between Iceland and Denmark with a stop in the Faroe Islands. It was loading a lot of buses as we walked by.

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After viewing the waterfall we decided to walk around town and check out the town. Our first stop was the harbor. There were some beautiful reflections of the mountains and fishing boats.

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Seydisfjordur is a small town so it didn’t take long to walk around. It was fortunate that we ate in Egilsstaðir because there wasn’t much open when we arrived.

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After another long day we headed back to the Hostel.

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More photos and a complete listing of my Icelandic blogs can be found on my website.