Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Whale Watching and Horseback Riding Out of Reykjavik

As mentioned previously, we had an extra unscheduled day in Reykjavik. Figuring that two full days in the city would be enough for us (and they were), I had pre-reserved, from home, an excursion with Ishestar for their Horses and Whales itinerary.

Our current itinerary had whale watching also schedule out of Husavik. And we also had planned to go horseback riding towards the end of our trip, when in southwest Iceland. So, all going according to plan, this could duplicate things for us.

In retrospect, this turned out to be the right thing to do. While the horseback riding experience, on the unique Icelandic horse, could have been better, we were so busy during the rest of the trip that we had no time to do it elsewhere. And we lucked out on the whale watching with an absolutely beautiful day on the water where we had our first look at puffins and minke whales.

The big problems with the horseback riding were a late pickup and a HUGE group. By the time everyone paid or showed their voucher, was up on a horse and settled in, we were tight on the clock. Plus, we were only about 20 minutes out of Reykjavik, so we really didn't 'get out into the countryside' as much as we would have liked.

That said, one very nice thing that was done by the guides was that they broke the group up into those that wanted to go slow and those that wanted to go fast. So we did have a chance for a good ride.

After the ride, our tour van RACED to the harbor for our whale watching part of the trip. We got onto the 1 PM departure at about 1:01 but they knew we were coming. Fortunately it was possible to buy a sandwich on board as we had not had time to eat.

We first went to an island where puffins congregated and it was neat getting to see them for the first time. Then out to where the captain could see flocks of seabirds congregating over the water. He knew that was where the fish were and that is where the whales would be.

We did get to see several minke whales. With beautiful sunshine, and a relatively calm sea, it was a great day.

For someone spending time only in Reykjavik, and wanting to have both experiences, I would recommend this tour. It gave a great taste of both. The horses were wonderful. The guides were helpful. And we did see whales.

However, if someone wanted to only experience the horses, I would suggest looking into a full day (or overnight) tour that took place an hour or so from Reykjavik. The southwest part of Iceland is loaded with horses and riding opportunities and there are some that offer day trips from the city.

Note: If going whale watching, take WARM clothes. It is windy and cold on the water. We even used our gloves and hats.

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