For my Arctic Ecology course, I previously wrote about how my Study Tour had been canceled and rescheduled. This past week, our class finally visited a climate near the Arctic Circle in Northern Iceland. Despite, our initial disappointment with the cancellation of our flight to Svalbard, this trip was an absolutely amazing way to round out both the Arctic Ecology course and my time abroad.
Day 1 – Travel to Dalvik
On the first day of our Study Tour, we hopped on a plane to Akureyri. Akureyri is a fairly small town, though it’s the largest in northern Iceland. Because of this, there are only two flights a week from Copenhagen to Akureyri, and once you get there the airport is VERY small. After arriving, we all piled in a van and marveled at the Iceland landscape on our way to the hotel. We finally made it to our little hotel in the tiny coastal town of Dalvik and had the rest of the night to explore. One thing we noticed about these small Icelandic towns on this trip is that they all have these fun trampolines outside of the school buildings (pictured below).
Day 2 – Hrisey Bird Exploration and River Rafting
On our second day, we woke up bright and early to hop on a ferry to the little island of Hrisey– even smaller than Dalvik! We took a hiking path through the town and spotted a lot of the birds that we’ve discussed in our course. It’s one thing to sit in a classroom and learn about Arctic Birds, but to be out in the field observing them with an expert in the field was truly amazing. After our bird watchign excursion, we once again found the Icelandic trampoline and then sat down for a meal at the only restaurant in the town. This restaurant had a beautiful view and was family-owned (a ten-year-old was our waitress) and had the most amazing food I’ve had in a while. After enjoying our fish soup, we hopped back on the ferry and then the bus transported us to our next location to river raft. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from rafting, but it was probably one of the greatest things I’ve ever experienced. The water was so cold, but we jumped in a few times. We were dead tired after rafting, so we fell asleep as soon as we got back to Dalvik.
Day 3 – Whale Watching and Geothermal Baths
On day 3, we drove to Husavik for a day focused on Arctic Marine Mammals. Personally, this was my favorite part of the Arctic Food Web to learn about so I was really excited. We were able to attend a lecture by a local whale researcher from the area and then boarded a boat to study Arctic whales up-close. Lucky for us, we spotted 3 different Humpback Whales in the cold ocean and were even able to see some Puffins on our way out. Afterwards, we decided to unwind in one of Iceland’s natural geothermal baths with a beautiful view. On our way home, our bus driver offered to show us a waterfall as well!
Day 4 – Wild Ride through Northern Iceland
For our final day in Iceland, we really had no idea what to expect. As we were waiting for our usual bus to come pick us up, two vans with HUGE lifted tires sped into the parking lot. Reluctantly, we got on and had quite the wild ride. Basically, we spent the whole day off-roading from site to site. Our first stop was a geothermal area near lake Myvatn, which was absolutely beautiful but smelled like sulfur. We then explored some different once-volcanic areas and ended the day with more bird watching.
Tomorrow, I leave Copenhagen to go back to the states. While I’m very excited to see the people I love again, I will miss Europe and this opportunity so much. DIS truly allowed me to explore all of my interests and visit so many places I would never have seen otherwise. Thank you so much for following my journey.