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The downside of whale watching in Iceland

It is always a privilege to see such majestic animals as whales in the sea but sometimes little is seen. PIC supersum

Whale watching the world over is a lucrative business drawing in millions eager to see the most majestic animals in the sea. Seeing big whales up close is truly a wonderful sight and one not easily forgotten.

In Iceland a whale watching tour is often a bird watching tour also and tour operators often throw in some less-than-exciting lecture or show about the lives of whales and other giants of the sea.

But there are some drawbacks to these trips never or seldom mentioned in the glossy brochures and websites of tour operators and tourism officials. Facts team Total Iceland believes anyone interested in such a tour should know beforehand.

  • YOU OFTEN DON´T SEE ANYTHING AT ALL – There is no guarentee of seeing any whales at all on any trip. While boat captains and staff know each area well and have help from technology and fishing vessels in spotting whales there are regularly trips where little or nothing is seen. Which partly explains why most offer bird watching as well. These are spotted almost every time. Even in those cases where whales make themselves seen they often do so in considerable distance and seldom come near enough to see up close.
  • LONG TIME COMING – Tour operators are deadly afraid of not spotting any whales on trips since that is the whole point of whale watching. Thus if nothing is seen in the usual daily spots they will sometimes go the extra mile to look. This means the average boat trip can last more than three hours and in extreme cases even longer. For people not used to the sea this can take a toll and you will need a few hours more onshore to get your bearings.
  • SEASICKNESS – Not a huge problem but the seas, as the weather, can change in seconds and rough seas are tough on everybody.
  • COLDNESS – Although many tour operators offer some clothing whale watching is a cold business on the best of days. Team Total Iceland has many stories about the cold being the most surprising thing on a whale watching tour for foreigners.

The above is not meant as any kind of scare tactic since even horrible cold and worse seasickness cannot diminish the marvellous effects of seeing a humpback whale or packs of Killer whales up close. But it is something to ponder.

More detailed information about whales and whale watching in Iceland here.

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