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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars


Norway - 18 June, 2004



Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Andenes, Vesterålen, Nordland (Youth Hostel) N69º19.373' E016º07.433' 4 meters .
-  Whale Safari aboard the M/S Andfjord. . . . 40 km (by whaleboat)
Andenes, Vesterålen, Nordland N69º19.373' E016º07.433' 4 meters .
Finish Husvågen, Vesterålen, Nordland (Jarle-Støa rorbu) N68º43.683' E014º32.625' 15 meters 197 km

Total (BMW 330CiC)

8,057 km

Total (other):

4,260 km


12,317 km


Weather: In the morning cloudy, windy and cold (around 4°C).  In the afternoon, partly cloudy with occasional sun and occasional rain, cool/cold (about 8°C).



We woke up to a cold and windy day.  Our main plan here at the northern tip of the Vesterålen islands was to go and see the whales at the edge of the continental shelf.  But the weather was threatening our plans.  We had visited the whale safari's offices the night before and had read on their closed and locked doors that the trips for the previous few days had been cancelled and they were not sure when the next trip would go.  Well, all we could do was go and try our luck.  We had our breakfast and then headed over to their offices.


We had made no reservations and just walked in.  Well, they were planning on going out and the boat was full.  We put our name on the ever growing waiting list and waited to see what would happen.  We had to wait for about 45 minutes, but then were pleased to find out that a number of people did not show up.  Guess they did not rate their chances high with the weather as it was.  We quickly changed into our cold weather gear, including our thermal underwear.  We wanted to be prepared.


Before heading out on the boat, however, we were given a tour of the museum.  It gives an overview of whales, their behavior and other interesting facts.  The tour is pretty interesting, but we do not have too much time to see very much.  The introductory talk on the whale trip took too long - but they did have seasickness medicine available that most people took (some, as we shall see, to no avail).


Then it is time to head out to the boat.  We decide to drive the short distance to the boat and then wait to board the whale boat - the M/S Andfjord.  They carefully check our coupons as we board in order to make sure that we have paid the fee.  Then once on board we settle in for the trip out to the edge of the continental shelf.  The advantage of taking this trip from Andenes is that it is a relatively short distance from the edge of the shelf, so we only take about an hour to cruise out there.  The poor people doing the same type of tour form the main land or from Lofoten have a much longer trip over the often rough seas.  This short distance to the edge of the shelf is what the town of Andenes such a popular base for the fishing industry.


On the cruise out we are glad that we have put on our thermals, fleeces, rain jackets, wool hat and gloves.  On the open sea on the open deck with the strong wind, it is quite cold.  They give us a number of talks, ranging from safety to what we expect (and hope ) to see.  They also serve us us some hot beverages and cookies.  Despite the seasickness tablets that they had offered to us, a number of passengers get very ill on the way out.  There are plenty of seasickness bags available all over the boat and a number of passengers are taking advantage of them.  Fortunately, we do not succumb to the mal de mer.


After about an hour, we are approaching the area where the whales can be spotted.  We are looking for sperm whales.  This area of the ocean is very nutrient-rich, so the whales congregate here to feed before heading south in the winter.  Soon we are told that the skipper has found some whales on the sonar equipment - now we just need to find them when they are on the surface.  The skipper, we are told, has lots of experience and he is able to take us to the spot where the whales are.


Our first sighting is at a distance - not everyone sees it.  The boat has not quickly enough reached the spot where the whale surfaces, so by the time we are approaching the spot, the whale has taken its breaths of fresh air and has begun it's dive.  Some of us can just see it as it raises it tail fluke and dives down.  All we can do is wait for it to re-surface and keep our eyes peeled for another whale that may surface in the meantime.  These whales are 20 meters long and weigh about 40 tonnes.


In the meantime, we amuse ourselves by watching the many birds fly around our boat, with some landing in the water near us.  We also observe another  boat that has taken a longer journey to get here to also observe the whales.


Well, we are pretty fortunate - in the end we have seven observations, of which three are up close observations.  We see four flukes and suspect that it has been two individuals that we have been observing.


After only this one trip we get a feel for how the whale breaths and then prepares to dive.  We can see the way it arches it's back and then the tail and fluke go straight up in the air and then slowly drops below the surface of the water.  During each one of these observations, the railings of the boat are lined with people trying to get their sighting.


We take plenty of photos and video.  It is nice to be able to take a series of pictures as the whale goes through it's diving procedure.


But soon it is time to head back.  What an experience to see these wonderful creatures out in the wild in their natural habitat going about their usual business.  The boat takes an hour to make it's way back, but this ride is much smoother than the way out.  The sea is behind us, so the ride is much more gentle.  Along the way we continue to observe the birds as we drink the warm soup and cookies served us.  We are welcomes back to Andenes by the sight of the 40 meter high lighthouse.


We get back just after 4 PM - the whole trip has taken us just over an four hours.  We return to the museum where we do some shopping in the store and check out a few other things.  Then it is time to head on.  We want to make as much progress as possible this evening.


This time we drive back down south along the western side of Andøy.  We pass along the steep ridges that rise up the center of the island and make our way down to Bø.  Near the town of Bø we find a small rest stop where we have a very late light lunch.  Then we carry on to Risøyhamn, where we re-join the road that we had taken to get here yesterday.  At Strand, we take the 961 long meter bridge across to Sortland.  We fill up on petrol and then carry on.


We take route 820 out to the island of Bø.  After driving about halfway, we enter one of the many tunnels in Norway.  This tunnel is another excellent example of how one can enter a tunnel in one environment and exit into another totally different one.  We enter in clouds and we exit into sunlight with an excellent view down a valley with steep mountains on each side, looking out to the distant sea.  We make a brief stop here and then carry-on down the winding road.


It is now time to find a place to stay.  As usual we are just driving along and hoping for the best.  We actually find one campsite, but they are very expensive and the lady was not very friendly, so we head on.  We also look for a supermarket that is open, but at this far-corner of Norway, they seem to all close earlier.  We drive all the way out to Gimstad, but decide to backtrack and either find something else or make our way back to some other cabins we had seen on the way in.


We come across a sign adverting a sea house, so we turn into a dirt road.  We ring the bell of the indicated house and a gentleman comes out and tells us that he has a sea house for rent.  He hops into his car and leads down the dirt road along the edge of a bay jutting in from the main fjord.  He shows us a great little sea house and we take it.  It is excellent value for money.  The place, an old fisherman's boat shed has been expertly renovated and all the modern comforts added.



The owner is a very friendly and talkative gentleman.  He tells us that he used to be a seaman, an officer on ocean going boats.  He has been all over the world and we share some stories about Singapore and Malaysia.  He has now retired and, despite a very nice pension, does this has a hobby.  And he does it well.  We pay for the night's stay, he gives us the keys and tells us just to leave the keys in the locks when we leave in the morning.


This is one of the better places we have stayed on our travels - very good value for money.  We have two bedrooms, a kitchen and a common area.  The toilet and bath are outside (OK in the summer, but it may be a bit cold in the winter).  The kitchen comes with everything, from coffee maker to pots and pans to corkscrew and cheese slicer.


We quickly settle in, prepare and enjoy our dinner over a bottle of wine and then just relax.  We also wander out onto the deck and around midnight admire the sea and mountains (and birds flying by) in the fading light of the midnight sun.


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