About Whales

Whales are beautiful animals and one of the nature’s most extraordinary sights.

Icelandic waters cover areas from the cold Arctic sea in the north, to the warmer North Atlantic Ocean in the south. The two mixing currents, the long summer daylight combined with the relatively shallow waters, makes an extremely favorable feeding area for the whales. Around Iceland, it is possible to find over 20 different species, 8 of which are frequently seen on whale watching tours.



Size: up to 26 metres
Weight: up to 80 tonnes
Speed: up to 30 km/hour

Fin whales are the second largest whale species after the blue whale, therefore the second largest mammal on the planet. They stand out not only for their size but also for their immense blow that reaches upwards up to 9 metres. They are are sometimes referred to as razorbacks due to their distinct ridge along their back behind the dorsal fin.

They are on the IUCN’s red list of endangered species but have, even so, been commercially hunted in Icelandic waters. The Icelandic government justifies this hunt as regional status assessments show that there has not been a decline in the abundance of North Atlantic fin whales since the IUCN refernece point in 1920.

Fin whales are not commonly seen on whale watching tours in Iceland, occasionally in the north and south in the summer months (May/June to August/September) and in autumn south of Iceland (Reykjanes peninsula/Grindavík).



Size: up to 17 meters
Weight: up to 30 tons
Speed: 27 km/hour

A fully-grown humpback whale’s weight is almost equivalent to the weight of seven to nine full-grown elephants.

The pectoral fins (flippers) are approximately one-third of the animal’s body length, thus distinguishing it from other whales. In addition, humpback whales have distinctive long knobbly flippers; the bumps on their flippers are called tubercles and these assist them in forming tighter circles around their prey in the water.

The black and white pattern on the underside of the tail fluke is as unique as a fingerprint and enables scientists to distinguish individual whales. Male humpback whales sing very long and complex songs when they are on the breeding grounds and recent studies suggest suggesting singing in the sub-arctic waters around Iceland in winter as well.

Humpback whales are among the most active and acrobatic species of whale. They are most commonly seen on whale watching tours in the north of Iceland in summer months (April/May to September/October) although they’ve increasingly been seen in the south as well in late winter (January/February-March/April).


Size: up to 2 meters
Weight: up to 70 kg
Speed: 23 km/hour

The harbor porpoise is among the smallest of cetaceans, with a low, dark, triangular dorsal fin and small rounded head. It is difficult to observe unless conditions are very calm, and is often wary of boats. Porpoises are usually alone or in small groups. They often make a sharp puffing sound when surfacing to breathe (and in some places are known as Puffing Pigs).

They are abundant all around Iceland throughout the year but most commonly seen on whale watching tours in summer months (March/April to September/October).



ize: up to 8 meters
Weight: up to 8 tons
Speed: up to 50 km/hour

Killer whales, also known as orca, are the largest member of the dolphin family.

The famous killer whale, Keiko (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1430748/), was captured in Icelandic waters in 1979. After performing in marine parks Keiko became a film star in the 1993 movie Free Willy and he was eventually reintroduced to the wild in Icelandic waters in 1998. Another famous killer whale, Tilikum who was heavily featured in the documentary Blackfish (http://www.blackfishmovie.com/), was captured in Iceland in 1983 to perform in marine parks. Since 1988 no killer whales have been captured in Icelandic waters.

Given their social behavior killer whales are not at all suited for captivity. In the wild, killer whales have a global distribution and live in large, family groups called pods, which stay together for life and may develop their own unique dialect. In captivity, dorsal fins may collapse due to stress, however, a male orca that is not in captivity has a dorsal fin that can grow as tall as 1.8 meters.

Killer whales are commonly seen on whale watching tours in the west of Iceland in winter months (November/December to March/April) and early summer (April/May to June/July). They regularly saw south of Reykjanes peninsula and around Westman Islands in summer as well but there is no scheduled whale watching tours run in the area. Occasionally they’re seen in other areas throughout the year.



Size: up to 10 meters
Weight: up to 8 tons
Speed: up to 34 km/hour

Minke whales are the second smallest baleen whale in the world. They have a characteristic white band on each flipper, contrasting with their dark gray top color. They have around 300 pairs of baleen plates in their upper jaw which act like a strainer as the minke whales feed.

Around the world they are the most abundant baleen whale yet they remain mostly solitary, often traveling alone or in small pods of 2-3 animals. Recent environmental changes seem to have influenced their distribution around Iceland as less and fewer minke whales are found in the coastal waters. Despite these changes, minke whales are commercially hunted in Icelandic waters, mainly in south-west Iceland.

Minke whales can be inquisitive and approach vessels quite closely. They are most commonly seen on whale watching tours in South Iceland in summer months (March/April to September/October) but also quite regularly on tours from the north and west Iceland around the same time.



Size: up to 20 meters
Weight: up to 50 tons
Speed: up to 30 km/hour

The sperm whale’s name derives from the spermaceti organ in its head. The famous whale of the novel Moby dick was a sperm whale. They are the largest of the toothed whales. One-third of their body’s length is their head, which contains sperm oil, prized for centuries and used to light lamps, for medicinal purposes, as a lubricant, and for cosmetics.

They mainly feed on squid and are thus usually found in very deep waters. Because of the depth, they reach they can remain submerged for up to an hour.

Sperm whales are most commonly seen on whale watching tours from West Iceland in late spring and early summer (April/May to August/September) although they’ve also rarely been seen in North as well (Skjálfandi bay/Húsavík). The sperm whales around Iceland are males or bulls.



Size: up to 3 meters
Weight: up to 180-300 kg
Speed: 20 km/hour

White-beaked dolphins are a robust species of dolphin with a short beak. They are characterized by their short thick creamy-white beak and very falcate (curved) dorsal fin.
Iceland is one of few places where you can see this charismatic species as they are only found in the North Atlantic Ocean, North Sea and the Barents Sea. They bow ride, breach (leap from the water) as other dolphin species do; however they are not considered to be as agile as some species.

They are abundant all around Iceland throughout the year and commonly seen on whale watching tours but most commonly seen in large pods with their calves in late winter (February/March).



Size: up to 27 meters
Weight: up to 120 tons
Speed: 39 km/hour

The blue whale is the largest animal known to have lived, even bigger than the largest dinosaurs. Its fluke (tail) is as wide as a football net (eight meters) and its length can reach the equivalent of seven Volkswagen Beetles lined up together. Also, the mouth of a blue whale is big enough to park a car in it.

Blue whales are long and slender. They have a unique mottling on their bodies, spots, and blotches of different shapes and colors. Scientists use these patterns to identify individuals.

The traveling pattern of blue whales is characterized by rapid sprints, while they can dwell in restricted areas for several days, most likely for food gathering. Few blue whales have been satellite tagged in Icelandic waters to study their migrating pattern, see for example blue whale 1 in 2014 and blue whale 2 in 2014.

Blue whales are most commonly seen on whale watching tours from North Iceland in late spring and early summer (April/May to August/September) although they’ve also sometimes been seen on tours from west of Iceland (Snæfellsnes peninsula/Ólafsvík) and in autumn south of Iceland (Reykjanes peninsula/Grindavík).

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Terms & Conditions

All trips offered are subject to Icecard standard terms and conditions. Please review the terms and conditions carefully prior to completing your reservation. Our terms and conditions are set out below to draw your attention to the fact that our obligations to you are limited.

All tours and activities are very weather and condition dependent.Icecard has the right to change the itinerary or cancel tours if necessary.

Weather in Iceland changes fast so last minute changes or cancellations might come up. Please respect the decisions made – Safety is always our priority!

If tours are canceled due to weather or another factor outside our control before the tour starts, you will be offered a different date for the tour. If that is not possible you will receive a full refund.
All tours are undertaken entirely at guests/clients own risk and they must take proper responsibility for their own risk.

Day tours and accommodation.

Regulation´s about payment if you book the tour or accommodation through the website the full amount is requested at booking.

All longer tours payment.

Regulation´s about payment, if you book the tour through the website or your book via e-mail or phone, you can pay 30% confirmation payment upon booking to confirm a seat. After the confirmation of payment has reached us, the seat is secured.The remaining of balance is due 60 days before the tour starts.

General Conditions

Icelandtouroperators disclaims responsibility for any loss, damage, accidents, sickness or changes in schedules caused by weather, strikes or any other irregularity outside Icelandtouroperators.is control. Icelandtouroperators.is reserves the right to alter routes, itineraries or departure times, without prior notice, should the necessity arise. In the case of any changes in flights (domestic and international), the passenger has to pay any additional cost caused by this, at the time the service is provided (extra hotel nights, meals, transfers etc). We advise all clients to have insurance, as clients are on their own responsibility on optional tours.


Icelandtouroperators.is reserves the right to alter routes, itineraries or timetables should the necessity arise, including irregularities due to adverse weather or road conditions. No responsibility is taken for losses or expenses due to delay or changes of flights, injury, damaged, negligence, weather, war or other unforeseeable causes. The estimated duration of tours as indicated on our website are standard times and can vary according to road or weather conditions. Punctuality is a key objective in Icelandtouroperators.is operation. However, delays may occur for unforeseen reasons. The company cannot be made responsible for losses that a passenger may face due to delay, regardless whether the loss is direct or indirect.

Icelandtouroperators.is does not operate any tours but directs you tours operated by operators and service providers in Iceland. Neither does Icecard charge users any fees and as such, can not be liable for any accidents, losses, injuries, damages, delays, expenses due to any action or inaction on the part of the operator, guide or his/her services.

Validity of Prices

All rates quoted or shown in our tariffs are based on current purchasing prices in Euros. Icecard reserves the right to increase prices already quoted or published in our price lists without notice, if government taxes, multi-day  trips increases.
Any eventual changes in rates will not be made with less than 8 weeks’ notice prior to arrival.

After the invoice has been issued the price is guaranteed against any surcharge unless an increase is due to government laws. Icecard will absorb an amount equivalent to 5% of the package price. Amounts that exceed the 5% will be charged and clients will be entitled to cancel their booking with a full refund if the surcharge exceeds 10%.


All cancellations must be made by e-mail. In conformity with business practices within the Icelandic travel industry, the travel agent is obliged to charge cancellation fees to the passenger(s) as follows (in addition to deposit):

Cancellation – Individuals or small groups

10% of the price of your tour is nonrefundable, this percentage reflects our cost of booking & preparing your tour.Cancellation made more than six weeks notice is subject to 10% of the tour price. Cancellation made less than six weeks but more than three weeks notice is subject to 30% of the tour price. Cancellation made less than six weeks but more than one week’s notice is subject to 50% of the tour price. Cancellation made less than one weeks notice means that the full price will be collected.

Cancellation – Groups with 10 or more people

10% of the price of your tour is nonrefundable, this percentage reflects our cost of booking & preparing your tour.

Less than 8 weeks and more than 6 weeks: 75% refund
Less than 6 weeks and more than 4 weeks: 20% refund
Less than 4 weeks prior to arrival: no refund

If a service which has unconditionally been confirmed is canceled by Icelandtouroperators.is, for example, due to insufficient participation, cancellations must be made with at least 4 weeks notice on Icelandtouroperators.is behalf. Icelandtouroperators.is shall make every effort to provide similar alternative arrangements without additional cost to the buyer. Should those alternatives not be to the buyer’s satisfaction, a full refund shall be made to the amount paid.

If a volcanic eruption in Iceland keeps you from getting to Iceland, you will get a full refund.
If Icelandtouroperators.is cancels your tour you get a full refund.

Cancellation Insurance

We strongly recommend you purchase cancellation insurance to protect yourself from unexpected circumstances that may cause you to cancel your trip.

Cancellation by Icelandtouroperators.is

Icelandtouropearators.is reserves the right to cancel any trip at any time for any reason determined by our sole discretion, including if there are too few participants, or if the quality of the trip or the safety of travelers is judged by Icelandtouroperators.is to be compromised. In such a case, refund of payments received by Icelandtouroperators.is shall constitute a full and final settlement.However in most cases, if that happens, we can in most times find you another trip, similar to that you have ordered at the same time.


No partial refunds will be given for unused hotel rooms, meals, sightseeing trips or other arrangements for any reason whatsoever. Prices are quoted as a package and credits are not given for services not used—unless written arrangements have been made with Icelandtouroperators.is or staff prior to departure.


Before traveling on a trip, we strongly recommend you review your personal insurance and health insurance to ensure you have coverage appropriate to meet your needs, and the needs of your family and dependants, in the case of any loss of property or illness, injury or death.

Unexpected Costs

The cost of delays is not included, if any trip has to be delayed because of bad weather, trail conditions, road conditions, transportation delays, government intervention or sickness for which Icelandtouroperators.is or its agent, can not make alternate provisions for.

Tours costs are subject to increase without prior notice, even if you have signed up for the trip and are paid in full. We publish our prices well in advance of departure, often more than half a year in advance. Between that time and the time of the trips actual departure, we are occasionally faced with significant cost increases that we cannot absorb, i.e., international currency fluctuations and increases in costs of services. We regret should such a situation occur, but sometimes it is unavoidable.

Responsibility of ride participants

Ride participants have a certain responsibility to Icelandtouroperators.is and to the other members of the ride. Participants are responsible for understanding the requirements of the ride, and for selecting a ride appropriate to their ability. Participants with medical problems or special dietary needs are responsible for informing Icelandtouroperators.is of these issues well in advance. For the protection of all participants, the ride leader reserves the right to prevent anyone from riding who displays insufficient ability, or whose behavior endangers the safety of other riders, themselves, or the horses. No refund will be made to a participant who is rejected for any such reason, or who is unwilling or unable to complete a tour.

Participants are responsible for understanding what is and is not included in the price as outlined in the detailed ride itineraries.

Rating your horseback riding ability and hiking/trekking

This is a critically important first step in choosing a riding or trekking tour. multi-day trips, you must have a good knowledge of the basics and some experience in riding cross-country and for trekking, you need to be in good health

and have some basic knowledge of hiking.

The tour guide has full authority to exclude a rider from a trip for inability to ride or behavior that endangers the other riders or the horses. No refunds will be made under these circumstances.


It is the rider’s responsibility to assess their own level of riding proficiency. If uncertain, please check with Icecard before booking your tour. Please also note that participate is at your own risk. Maximum weight of rider is 120 kg

Icelandtouroperators reserves the right to change and adjust riding routes should weather conditions or other external circumstances make the original route unsafe or even dangerous which are not refundable.

Please note that some guesthouses do not serve breakfast for passengers of early morning flights (departure 5.00).

We reserve the right to change programs when absolutely necessary (e.g. extreme weather conditions).

Please understand that we cannot repay for services provided, that you don’t wish to use.


Some of the Personal Information we collect is shared with our service partners (e.g. tour operators) who are directly involved in fulfilling the purchases you have made from us. We only provide our service providers with your name and your local contact details, if you provide them (e.g., your hotel name for pick-ups and drop-offs, your local phone number, your mobile phone number, etc.) We do not provide our service providers with any other Personal Information. If you decide to provide any Personal Information directly to a service provider, we recommend that you review the service provider’s privacy policy to determine how such service provider may use or disclose your Personal Information.

Law and Venue

This agreement is in accordance with Icelandic law. Any legal action because of his shall be brought for the District Court of Reykjavik.

Thanks for reading this information and have a nice and safe travel in Iceland on a horse or a hike.

If you need any assistant, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Have a safe and good journey in Iceland.

About Us

We are a fresh thinking fully licensed Booking company delivering a customer focused approach to finding the right holiday for you. From a short day trip around the capital to a long trip in the wilderness or a trek all around Iceland, we offer a lot‘s of choice. This choice, combined with expert, impartial advice, and unbeatable special offers, means that you get the perfect holiday that suits you.You have the choice of using our website or alternatively, you can speak to one of our fully qualified and caring consultants who are experienced in offering packages, flexible and tailor-made holidays to your destinations.We looking forward to helping you find your perfect holiday. Our tour operators have probably the most experience in Iceland of making great tours in all areas of Iceland, tailor made for you and if you don´t find your tour on our website, then don´t hesitate to contact us and we will find the tour for you.


Icecard ehf.
Þverholti 2

Payment information

For Day tours and accommodation is paid upon arrival at the site or on our website www.arcticwhales.is For multy days tours you have to pay 30% of the price on confirmation of the booking, you will receive payment information once the booking has been sent, the  tours has to be paid in full 60 days before the beginning of the journey. All prices are the best possible rates for these trips and include all taxes and other charges. All our trips are organized and undertaken by local people .  

About Iceland

Is it difficult to get to Iceland?

Not at all! Frequent flights operate to Iceland from main cities in Europe and North America and many gateways are served daily. Flight times to Europe are two to four hours. Most flights connect at Iceland´s Keflavík International Airport (45 km from Reykjavík) to give good stopover opportunities for transatlantic travellers.

How cold does it get?

Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Iceland isn´t as cold as it sounds. Temperatures are moderate year-round. Average July temperatures are around 11°C in Reykjavík – the north and east are often the warmest parts in the summer. Snow is not the orm and only settles intermittetly in Reykjavík but tends to stay longer in the north. Fine winter skiing areas are found on higher ground outside many towns, however. Average January temperatures in Reykjavík, at around zero, are actually higher than those in New York.

How should I dress?

In the summer, light clothing is often all you need – but always be prepared for both cold and wet weather at all times of the year. The weather can be extremely changeable. Icelanders often say, “If you don´t like the weather, just wait 15 minutes.” And always bring a bathing suit, whatever time of the year you visit. A favourite pastime is year-round outdoor swimming in countless geothermally heated pools and lagoons, with a typical temperature of 25-28°C.

Do Icelanders speak English?

Most Icelanders (especially those from their teenage years through their fifties) speak fluent English. In fact, they welcome the opportunity – so never be shy about approaching an Icelander.

What are the accommodation and food like?

Excellent! Iceland´s hotels and guesthouses are almost invariably clean and comfortable. The seafood and lamb are of outstanding natural quality and served in imaginative European style. There are also plenty of fast food establishments.

When is it daylight in Iceland?

Summer visitors who arrive to a bright midnight sky and ask when it gets dark in Iceland are sometimes told “in the middle of August.” The sun barely sets in the summer in Reykjavík and it´s light round-the-clock in the north at the peak of summer. In mid-winter, expect only about four to five hours a day of daylight. Spring and autumn daylight hours are more or less “normal”.

What is there to see besides nature?

Nature is obviously a big part of the Icelandic experience – but it´s by no means the only part. Reykjavík is one of the liveliest, safest, most sophisticated and modern cities there is, and its nightlife and cultural activities have earned an exciting reputation. Other towns such as Akureyri in the north are worth visiting in their right too. For those who want to see both city and nature, the wilds begin just outside urban communities and a wide range of sightseeing tours are on offer from most of them.

Will my mobile phone work in Iceland?

Most European cell phones work on Iceland´s GSM network; North American ones use a different standard. But you can rent cell phones in Iceland. iceland now has the highest rate of cell phones use in the world. Mobiles work in towns and on virtually all main travel routes.

Facts about Iceland

The Country.

Iceland is an island of 103.000 km2 (39,756 sq.miles), about one-third larger than Scotland or Ireland. Its highest peak, Hvannadalshnjúkur, rises to 2.119 m and over 11 per cent of the country is covered by glaciers, including Vatnajökull, the largest in Europe.


Situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Iceland is a hot spot of volcanic and geothermal activity: 30 post-glacial volcanoes have erupted in the past two centuries, and natural hot water supplies much of the population with cheap, pollution-free heating. Rivers, too, are harnessed to provide inexpensive hydroelectric power.


Out of a population numbering more than 300.000, half live in the capital Reykjavík and its neighbouring towns in the southwest. Keflavík International Airport is located about 50 km from the capital. The highland interior is uninhabited (and uninhabitable), and most centres of population are situated on the coast.


Iceland was settled by Nordic people in the 9th century – tradition says that the first permanent settler was Ingólfur Arnarson, a Norwegian Viking who made his home where Reykjavík now stands. The Icelanders still speak the language of the Vikings, although modern Icelandic has undergone changes of pronunciation and, of course, of vocabulary! Iceland is alone in upholding another Norse tradtion, i.e. the custom of using patronymics rather than surnames; and Icelander´s christian name is followed by his or her father´s name and the suffix -son or -dóttir, e.g. Guðrún Pétursdóttir (Guðrún, daughter of Pétur). Members of a family can therefore have many different “surnames”, which sometimes causes confusion to foreigners!


In 930, the Icelandic settlers founded one of the world´s first republican governments; the Old Commonwealth Age, described in the classic Icelandic Sagas, lasted until 1262, when Iceland lost its independence, and in 1944 the present republic was founded. The country is governed by the Althing (parliament), whose 63 members are elected every four years. four-yearly elections are also held for the presidency; President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson was elected in June 1996 to succeed Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, and was re-elected in June 2000. The head of state plays no part in day-to-day politics.


Life expectancy, at 81.3 years for women and 76.4 for men, is one of the highest in the world, and a comprehensive state health-care system aims to keep it that way.

Tallest mountains.

Hvannadalshnjúkur 2119 m, Bárðarbunga 2000 m,Kverkfjöll 1920 m,Snæfell 1833 m.

Longest rivers.

Þjórsá 230 km,Jökulsá á Fjöllum 206 km,Ölfusá / Hvítá 185 km,Skjálfandafljót 178 km

Largest glaciers.

Vatnajökull 8300 km2,Langjökull 953 km2,Hofsjökull 925 km2,Mýrdalsjökull 596 km2,Drangajökull 200 km2

Largest lakes.

Þórisvatn 83 km2,Þingvallavatn 82 km2,Lögurinn 53 km2,Mývatn 37 km2