National Geographic Explorer took us past the steaming Reykjanes Peninsula in the wee hours of the morning to Heimaey, where we climbed Eldfell. This volcano was formed during a recent eruption (1973), and we experienced the warmth that still emerges from the ground there. The afternoon was filled with marine wildlife encounters, including killer whales and nesting gannets. We also had a close look at Surtsey, Iceland’s youngest island.
National Geographic Explorer
Our morning visit to Flatey was such a delightful start to our day. As the Zodiacs dropped us off at our landing point, the tide was dropping, exposing an incredible forest of seaweed draping the intertidal rocks nearby. Our senses were awakened by the noise of coastal birds, parents actively to-ing and fro-ing as they fed along the coastal shallows and gathered food for their hungry and eager chicks. We took a walk along the shore to some little cliffs where we had fantastic views of puffins, eider ducks, mallards, fulmars, arctic terns, and redshanks, to name but a few. Flatey, meaning ‘Flat Island,’ is one of the largest islands in a group of thousands in Breidafjord, and its location meant that in the Middle Ages it was considered a very important trading post. There is a little church in Flatey that was built in 1926; here we got a peek inside at some of the beautiful artwork by the artist Baltasar, a Spaniard who received Icelandic citizenship. The Icelandic leg of our adventure has been full of musical delights, and Flatey did not disappoint. At the Old Freezer House on Flatey, Hafdis Huld, the current number one selling artist in Iceland, treated us to a private musical performance of some of her most well-known songs. We spent the afternoon making our way south along Iceland’s western coast, and how exciting it turned out to be! We spotted a huge and playful pod of pilot whales and many white-beaked dolphins leaping in the air. What a wildlife spectacle! Before dinner, we settled into cocktail hour with an eclectic array of mini presentations by our naturalists for our final recap of the expedition. We are making our way to the south of Iceland for our final exciting day on this incredible adventure.