Seeing Eye to Eye with Killer Whales in Iceland

Friday, 4th November 2016

Doug Kington

iceland west fjords orca close up laki

We send our Travel Specialists out to our destinations so you have real experiences to draw on – here’s what Doug made of his whale-watching experience on our signature Orcas & Aurora escorted tour.

Back in February this year, I joined our Orcas and Aurora small group escorted tour to Iceland.

The trip was a great opportunity for me to see how one of our main winter tours operates from start to finish, and to improve my knowledge of Iceland. I was glad to see for myself where our guests go, what they could expect to see and do while there, and to then add on my own personal experience to make sure that this trip would be perfect for them.

The First Hour

Our guide Alexa had studied cetaceans for years and gave an in-depth talk on the marine wildlife we might be able to see on the boat trip that morning. She has a great passion for wildlife and Iceland in particular, so it was a pleasure to listen to someone with such enthusiasm and knowledge.

We were barely ten minutes into the boat trip when the eagle-eyed captain had spotted some white-beaked dolphins. They were quite a distance away and were moving further from the boat, so we left them and continued the search for the orcas.

Orcas and Orcas

After an hour searching Grundarfjordur, the cold was setting in, along with the realisation that we might not see the whales on this boat trip. The captain had other ideas, however, and advised everyone that we were going to the next fjord, Kolgrafafjordur, to try our luck there.

Within moments of entering the next bay, the sightings started. Then they got closer and closer until there were between thirty and forty orcas surrounding the boat. I couldn’t believe what we were seeing, and I felt an absolute thrill at the sight of these great cetaceans, at times within just ten metres of the boat.

There were big males with huge dorsal fins which must have been over a metre and a half long, and also young orcas with a yellow colour to their skins. Their movements were so graceful through the water, and they put on a great show as they all bobbed in and out of the water.

The captain moved the boat around the fjord for about ninety minutes without disturbing the orcas, so that we had amazing photo opportunities as well as time to appreciate the moment and what we were witnessing.

Back to Land

With this group of whales moving deeper into the fjord, it was decided that it was time to head back to land. As we came back into Grundarfjordur, we then encountered another ten or so orcas which came even closer to the boat. By this point, many of us had gone to the lower deck of the boat to have a hot chocolate and a cake. The windows on this level are just a few feet above sea level, so as the orcas came out of the water they were at eye level!

The whale watching boat trip was such a fantastic opportunity and something I will remember forever.

Popular blog posts

UPDATED Aurora Prediction Alert – December 2018!

In October our northern lights experts predicted the chances of seeing the northern lights would be extremely high from the 2-7 November 2018 due to a strong auroral storm occurring. It happened and looks likely to occur again in early December...
  • Northern Lights

Friday, 9th November 2018

Jess Weatherson

Cathy Harlow: Hiking in East Greenland Tour Highlights

In summer 2019, Wanderlust award-winning guide Cathy Harlow is travelling again to the wild and remote East Greenland coast to guide our nine-day ‘Hiking in East Greenland’ adventure. There’s so much about East Greenland that inspires Cathy but there are a few truly special experiences that make this trip stand out, read on to find out more…
  • Adventure
  • Inspire Me

Wednesday, 24th October 2018

Cathy Harlow

Icehotel 2018/19 Designs Unveiled!

With every new year comes a brand new edition of Sweden’s iconic Icehotel and after months of deliberation, the designs for the 29th Icehotel have finally been revealed (we heard one was even designed on the back of a napkin!). Let us give you a sneak peak of what is to come!
  • Icehotel

Tuesday, 21st August 2018

Becky Masih

Recommended Holidays

Orcas and Aurora

from £1024
excluding flights
4 nights Feb
Combine the excitement of seeing orca and the northern lights on this guided short break.
  • Escorted
  • Short Breaks
  • Wildlife
  • Winter Break
  • Northern Lights
  • Whale Watching

Winter Wildlife and Aurora Self Drive

from £749
excluding flights
5 nights Dec-Apr, Oct
Combine orca and aurora watching with a stay in Reykjavik on this winter self drive holiday
  • Self Drive
  • Wildlife
  • Northern Lights
  • Whale Watching

Orcas, Aurora and Icebergs

from £1825
excluding flights
7 nights Mar
On this small group tour, experience a wealth of Iceland's spectacular natural wonders.
  • Escorted
  • Wildlife
  • Winter Break
  • Northern Lights
  • Whale Watching