Gift Diaries x Special Tours

October 4th, 2022

We present the second edition of our ‘Gift Diaries’ series. Last month we had a chat with Jonathan Rempel from ‘Special Tours Wildlife Adventures’. This group is known for their unforgettable wildlife tours and the once-in-a-lifetime whale-watching excursions take visitors to see these majestic animals in their natural habitat. Read more about this activity and what makes it so unique in the interview.

What do you like most about your job?

The best thing about my job is the educational aspect. I love talking to people and teaching them about the wonders of our natural world. Knowing that guests not only experienced something amazing, but also learned a lot about it – nothing beats that.

Can you tell us about your trip? What inspired you to get started in your current job?

In 2014 I came to Iceland for the first time for a whale research internship. I have always been interested in the sea and have worked with marine research before, but it was the first time I had seen large whales in the wild and I fell in love. In 2016 I decided to make Iceland my home and given my passion for education, working in whaling was a natural progression.

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What is your favorite place to take visitors and why?

To the whales of course! Nothing beats seeing these amazing animals in their natural environment, where they are free to engage in the behaviors they naturally exhibit.

What was the most amazing journey you’ve ever taken? What animals have you seen?

I will never forget the RIB tour where we saw 5 species in the space of 2 hours – a company record. We had humpback whales, minke whales, white beaked dolphins, porpoises and pilot whales. I was ecstatic!

What have you learned most from watching whales in their natural environment?

Whales are truly intelligent and emotional creatures. When we watch them, they are often just as interested in us as we are in them and they prove it by swimming towards us, circling us and sometimes even “showing off”.

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Describe your activity in 3 words

Natural, educational, and exciting.

I’m going to Reykjavik, what’s the 1 thing we just have to do?

Other than whale watching? A visit to the whale museum, Whales of Iceland, of course. There is no other museum like this.

What is the most appreciative response you see on tours?

We get all sorts of comments from guests. The most common are certainly surprise and awe – but occasionally I see someone give a more emotional response as if the animals have touched their hearts and souls.

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What makes your activity unique?

A RIB allows guests to really try out and experience these gentle giants in a way that is simply not possible on larger boats. Not only is it much closer to the water, but the small group makes it a more personal and intimate experience between the passengers, guide, and captain.

Do you have any final wisdom or advice for someone looking to embark on a unique experience?

Just ask yourself what you have always wanted to do in your hometown, your region, that has never been a possibility before. Chances are there are others who share the same opinion. Meet them and brainstorm ways to get more in touch with your city and local wildlife. You never know what ideas are floating around, waiting to be found.

A big thank you to Jonathan from ‘Special Tours Wildlife Adventures’ for talking to us! Keep an eye out for more editions of our ‘Gift Diaries’ series.

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