• Date: Nov 2013

We went to Lofoten to see the northern light and Lofoten Masters. The world´s coldest surfing competition.

 

 

 

 

Northern light safari in Lofoten and Lofoten Masters at Unstad

 

Lofoten and Vesterålen

 

Lofoten and Vesterålen are the most spectacular places in Norway that I have visited. High alpine mountains like the Alps, white sandy beaches like a tropical Island and green hills like the Scottish Highlands. All in one place.

 

The norhtern lights is one of the main reasons for tourists to visit anorthern Norway in the winter or fall. Many tourists take the famous Hurtigruten at winter to see the northern lights. Hurtigruten is a cruise line going from Bergen, all the way to Kirkenes close to Russian border in the north. To see the northen lights has also been on my bucket list for a while, and that was the main reason for me to go to Northern Norway this fall.

 

I had saved one week of holiday for the fall. A few weeks ago I decided to spend that in Lofoten and Vesterålen the northern part of Norway. I had one things that I could not miss: To finally watch the northern lights. Living in Bergen in the south of Norway seeing northern lights is quite unusual, and missing a few shots last winter I had decided that this thing, I wanted to check of the list this season.

 

The easiest way to go to Lofoten and Vesterålen is by plane from Oslo to Harstad-Narvik (Evenes) Airport. Rent a car at the airport, to drive by yourself. And to go to remote little places. Exactly what we did, especially since going by car from Bergen and back would take 6 days. Plane was an easy choice.

 

The first two days we stayed in Eidet in Bø in Vesterålen. In a bay giving shelter from the at times harsh arctic sea. The three hour drive from The airport to Vesterålen, is the most amazing drive ever. The ride took more like 5 hours, because of all the stops we hade to make in order to take photos.

 

One question soon struck our mind: How do people living here ever get food? As we drove the places seemed even more and more remote, with no signs of a grocery store. Knowing that we had to get food for two nights we stopped in Løddingen to buy what we needed.

 

You'll find some hotels around, but the places you will find most is private cabins or "rorbu" that are placed at a dock. The first two nights we stayed in one of those in Åsand Brygge. This was the only day with clear sky forecast, a necessity for watching the northern lights. And it was full jackpot the first day: Even with low Northern lights forecast activity we were lucky to see it that night.

 

Northern Light Safari

 

I rigged my camera on the tripod and set it up with the timer remote I had bought on Ebay. Setting camera to manual mode, shutter to 30 seconds and aperture to 3.5, focus to manual and eternal and taking one picture every minute on the remote. Taking a total of 250 pictures for nearly four hours. After importing them to my iPad I used a app "Frame lab", to put together a timelapse movie to show the shifting lights and green sky. After waiting untill 01:30 for the video to finish I saw that the last 150 pictures were all foggy since the temperature had fallen, the objective was all foggy, so the final video only lasts for 3,5 minutes and not the intended 10 minutes.

 

In Vesterålen we visited the small place called Hovden, a tiny fishing village at the northern part of the island. Amazing to see how these small communities seems to be cut of the rest of the world. And what lonely planet had "warned" us, small fishing villages may smell of yes - dried fish. Even though the fish was no longer hanging out for drying, the smell was the first thing we noticed when opening the car window.

 

In Vesterålen we also did a nearly two hour walk back and fourth to a farm in Vikan lying a 45 minutes walk from the centre of Straume. This place was like going 100 years back, when Norwegians up here lived of farming and fishing, taking and living of what nature could give them. The farm was shut down for the season, but the firmly cut green grass, toghether with yellow and fall colured brown mountains, withe sand and clear blue water, just made the view amazing. The white sheds in front of the windows showed that the house was prepared for a harsh winter to come.

 

World´s coldes surfing competition

 

So with the northern lights ticked off on the bucket list, we headed for Unstad and the Best Western hotel we had pre-booked in Leknes. Leknes felt central in Lofoten, meaning that we could take day trips both north and south and thereby reach most of Lofoten from a base camp. Unstad a village with only 13 inhabitants, hosted Lofoten Masters, the coldest and northernmost surf competition in the world at 68 degrees north. We watched the brave guys go out in 9 degrees air temperature with some of them not even wearing a hood and gloves, it seemed so cold.

 

I rigged myself in among the round rocks to get some nice shots of the surfers, and the sourounding mountains. My boyfriend patiently waited for me to finish the photo session. I got quite a few good shots, watching the competition some hours a day for three days.

 

Again we were stunned by the charcateristic nature up here. White sands, super steep green alpine mountans raising from sea level. And clear blue sometimes turquise water. Both Unstad and Utakleiv beach shared this characteristic.

 

The road marked 10 is a National Tourist Road, it stretches from the Airport allt he way to the end of Lofoten. Nice places like Utakleiv beach is marked as tourist attractions in road signs, many of the atteactions are worth to follow, if you have time for it.

 

To choose between Vesterålen and Lofoten is hard. Therefore you should do both if you first come here. But as we saw Vesterålen first I guess that was the first love and then the bigges impressions are stuck here. But we are coming back to see more of the Lofoten beaches next summer.

 

Links:

 

http://www.nasjonaleturistveger.no/en
http://www.lofoten.info/en
http://www.visitnorway.com/en/Where-to-go/North/Lofoten/
http://www.visitnorway.com/no/Reisemal/Nord-Norge/Vesteralen/

 

Related Videos

 

Kari Schibevaag Ozone.mov from weggebros on Vimeo.

 

Lofoten Masters 2013 from Fri Flyt TV on Vimeo.

 

 

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