Whales ahoy continued

By John Craven, Mail on Sunday

Last updated at 14:32 17 February 2003


Lake Myvatn

Minkes are regular visitors and our guide said they are seen on nearly every trip, often coming close to the boats.

But we were watching maybe a dozen mothers protecting their young so they kept at a discreet distance.

Then, for good measure, up popped a bunch of white-beaked dolphins, dancing in the waves around the oak-built Haukur.

It turned out to be an exhilarating adventure for all ages - grandfathers included.

There is something rather special about setting off directly north on holiday when just about everyone else is flying east, south or west - and having to pack warm, weather-proof clothing in the middle of August.

As it turned out, there was lots of sunshine and even though the temperature didn't get above 16C (61F), we never felt cold.

Our holiday base was a 90-minute drive from Akureyri and 60 minutes from Husavik, the three-star Hotel Reynihlid on the shores of Lake Myvatn (pronounced Me-vat) which is Icelandic for midge. There were millions, but fortunately not the biting type.


Mud pools around Lake

It is Iceland's fourth-largest lake, set on the edge of a lunar desert of weirdly shaped lava floes, hot mud pools and volcanoes.

Asbjorn Bjorgvinsson, known as Abbi, who runs the new Whale Centre in Husavik, is trying to change the national attitude to whaling.

'There has been a huge increase in the number of visitors coming here to see whales, and as a nation we can make more money from whale watching than from whale killing. That should be our future,' he said.

His new museum, which tells both the history of whaling and the natural history of whales, stands on the quayside where the boats set out. It was time for our second trip.

Jessica and the other children shouted with joy when they spotted the humpback again, still there blowing in the bay.

I was a little cooler - after all, I was now an accomplished whale watcher. But I hope to return to Iceland and head further out to sea in search of the biggest creature on the planet, the blue whale. I wonder if my luck will hold?

Travel facts

Discover The World offers a Whales, Fire & Ice trip from £726 for three nights. This includes return flights from Heathrow, domestic flights between Reykjavik and Akureyri, transfers, half-board accommodation, a tour of Lake Myvatn and a visit to the Blue Lagoon.

Visit www.wildlife-encounters.co.uk or call 01737 218 802.

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