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
We started the day with beautiful weather and a gorgeous sail into Heimaey. An adventurous group from National Geographic Explorer hiked up the volcano that threatened the city in 1973, and others took a panoramic tour of the area. The grand finale for everyone was a visit to the Volcano Museum, which is built around a house that was partially destroyed in the eruption. In the distance, we could see steam and gases from a new volcanic eruption. After leaving Heimaey, we sailed around several of the Westman Islands, where the only ‘residents’ are seabirds nesting on the cliffs. Gannets, northern fulmars, puffins, black guillemots, and red-necked phalaropes were prolific. We found a large group of gannets diving into the water to catch fish. Several minke whales were spotted briefly before we headed off for our visit to Surtsey, which we circumnavigated. After the guest slideshow and the Captain’s Farewell, our ship sailed by National Geographic Resolution as we passed the newly erupting Litli-Hrutur.