Giftdiaries x Special Tours
Presenting the second edition of our ‘Gift Diaries’ series. Last month, we had a chat with Jonathan Rempel from ‘Special Tours Wildlife Adventures’. Known for their unforgettable wildlife tours, the group’s once-in-a-lifetime whale-watching excursions take visitors to witness these majestic animals in their natural habitat. Jump into the interview as he shares more about the activity, and what makes it so unique.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of the job is the educational aspect. I love talking to and teaching people about the wonders of our natural world. Knowing that guests walk away not only having experienced something amazing but also learning a lot about it in the process – nothing beats it.
Could you share a little bit about your journey? What inspired you to start working in your current job?
I first came to Iceland in 2014 for a research internship studying whales. I’ve always been interested in the sea and worked with marine research previously, but that was my first time seeing large whales in the wild, and I immediately fell in love. I decided to make Iceland my home in 2016, and considering my passion for education, working in whale watching was a natural progression.
What’s your favourite place to take visitors and why?
Out to see the whales, of course! There’s nothing like seeing these amazing animals in their natural environment, where they are free to display the behaviours that come naturally to them.
What was the most fantastic trip you ever did? What animals did you see?
I’ll never forget the RIB tour in which we saw 5 species in the span of 2 hours – a company record. We had humpback whales, minke whales, white-beaked dolphins, harbour porpoises, and pilot whales. I was ecstatic!
What are your biggest takeaways from watching the whales in their natural habitat?
Whales are truly intelligent and emotional creatures. Often when we’re watching them, they are just as interested in us as we are in them, and they prove it by swimming up to us, circling us, and even “showing off” sometimes.
Describe your activity in 3 words
Natural, educational, and thrilling.
I’m visiting Reykjavik, what’s the 1 thing we simply must do?
Other than going whale watching? Visiting the whale museum, Whales of Iceland, of course. There’s no other museum like it.
What’s the most rewarding reaction you see on tours?
We get all sorts of reactions from guests. Definitely, the most common ones are surprise and awe – but every now and then, I see someone have a more emotional response as if the animals have touched their heart and soul.
What makes your activity unique?
Using a RIB allows guests to really try and experience these gentle giants in a way that simply isn’t possible on larger boats. Not only is it much closer to the water, but the small group size also makes it a more personal and intimate experience between the passengers, guide, and captain.
Any parting wisdom or advice for someone looking to start a unique experience?
Just ask yourself, what have you always wanted to do in your hometown, your region, that has never been a possibility before? Chances are there are others who are like-minded. Meet with them and brainstorm ways to get more in touch with your city and local nature. You never know what ideas are floating out there, waiting to be found.
Thank you to Jonathan from ‘Special Tours Wildlife Adventures’ for chatting with us! Keep an eye out for more editions from our ‘Giftdiaries’ series.