Early in the morning, National Geographic Explorer arrived at the very protected harbor and dock at Isafjörður, the main population center in the whole Westfjords area. Located in the remote and sparsely populated northeastern most part of the country, Isafjörður is a small city of approximately 2,600 inhabitants. The main economic activities are commercial fishing and tourism. With magnificent fjords, steep mountains, impressive waterfalls, and an abundance of marine life, the region attracts a lot of people from Reykjavik and international travelers. We dedicated the whole day to exploring its numerous attractions. We divided into different groups, and some of us decided to bicycle, while others had a great time touring the city by foot. We did some shopping, learned about the cultural life, and visited a local brewery. Another group went to the local botanical garden and to see the gorgeous smaller fjords that are part of the large Isafjarðardjúp, the main fjord in the area. The rest of us took a great hike to see the Valagil Waterfall and then visited the Arctic Fox Center in the small town of Súðavik. There we had the pleasure of watching a beautiful captive arctic fox, Iceland’s largest native land mammal. She delighted everyone with her antics and cute face.

Back on board, a wonderful surprise awaited us. We all enjoyed listening to the wonderful voice of local Icelandic singer, Svava Run Steingrimsdottir, whose performance was greatly admired by everyone.

We dedicated the rest of the day to navigating around Isafjarðardjúp. We looked for marine life and found several humpback whales shortly after leaving the dock. We had the opportunity to watch and take pictures of many individuals for a long time. Each time the whales showed their flukes in the air at the beginning of a deeper dive, cameras of all kinds captured the images as voices of all ages made all sorts of exclamations. Spending their summers busily feeding in Iceland, these humpback whales will eventually make their yearly migration south towards the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean to mate and give birth to the new generation. We also had the chance to watch a couple of minke whales, harbor porpoises, and a white-beaked dolphin. We listened to a couple of lectures in between cetacean sightings, rounding out another wonderful day exploring beautiful Iceland.

Photographer: Carlos Navarro