Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Norway Cruise - Killer Whale Safari - The Lofoten Islands - November 2006

07:00 The day begins with a Norwegian style buffet breakfast featuring cheeses, meats, fish and the most amazing fresh bread. I am dressed in layer after layer for today's boat trip to see the Orca whales because the temperature could reportedly be as low as -8C. Our trip takes place in the Lofoten archipelago, off the coast of Norway, not far from Tromso and in the Arctic Circle, hence the temperatures!

08:15 I wrap up in my hat, scarf, gloves and ski-jacket and am ready to go. It is still dark and we won't see daylight until 11am. So although the Lofoten Islands are beautiful and the views stunning, we can't see a great deal yet. We are given a briefing about our whale safari at the centre in Svolvaer. It is a fantastic presentation, offering us plenty of background information on Orca whales, and running through the plan for the day. We learn all about the habits of these amazing creatures and the fact that despite their name the killer whales are incredibly tame creatures. The team here in Svolvaer actually spend a great deal of time studying their habits and following the Orcas closely.

10:00 Onboard the fishing ship and time to put on the boiler suits, provided to protect us from the cold and wind. We sail from Svolvaer up through Vestfjord to Tysfjord, a long narrow fjord where over 600 killer whales live. We head for the area of Tysfjord where the whales have apparently been spending time recently, and the scenery is just spectacular.

12:00 We encounter two pods of whales surfacing only metres away from our boat. It is absolutely astounding to see them so close and so unperturbed by our presence.

13:00 I have opted to take a trip in the Zodiac boat, like a motor powered dinghy, and the chance to see the whales even closer up. We whistle to encourage them to come nearer to us - and it works! Some fellow travellers snorkel with the whales and say it is the most amazing feeling, seeing the Orcas swimming towards you and looking you directly in the eye! After all the excitement it is back on to the boat for some warming fish soup and the journey back to Svolvaer.

15:00 I can't believe it is dark already.

16:15 We arrive back in Svolvaer, and head to the Svinøya Rorbuer, where are staying. These rorbu (fisherman's cabin) are delightful wooden houses on the harbour front, designed to give the semblance of the traditional fisherman's cabin, yet still providing the comfort and style that you would expect of modern accommodation.

19:00 Before dinner I decided to check out the The Magic Ice Bar in the town. Wow! Absolutely everything is made of ice, including the glasses. My gloves keep sticking to them. At least the washing up is straightforward - they just throw the empties in the sea. The bar features some beautiful ice sculptures representing all the different aspects of life in the Lofoten community and is well worth a visit.

21:30 We have dinner at the restaurant that is linked to the Svinøya Rorbuer. It is a really charming place, with a beautiful dark wood interior and a warming open fire, which make for a wonderful ambiance. The meal is fish - no surprises there - of the most amazing taste and quality. All washed down with some fine wine and we have a perfect end to a perfect day.

This Whale safari day was part of a 4 day Winter Killer Whale Safari in The Lofoten Islands, costing from £895 per person. See