Norway – Lofoten Islands 2013
We are pleased that you have found the travelogue from our winter trip to the gorgeous Lofoten Islands in Norway in February 2013.
Gerd and I spent ten very different days in the high north of Norway. The weather was unusual and we were travelling from winter to spring and back to winter again during our trip! We were able to experience the Lofoten Islands in rain and heavy snow storms, marvelled at the magnificent northern lights and enjoyed the winterly landscape after fresh snowfall.
As usual, we managed our own booking for the trip and stayed in the following charming self-catering fisherman cabins that are called rorbuer in Norway:
– Lofoten Rorbuer in Svolvaer
– Henningsvær Rorbuer in Henningsvær
– Solsiden Brygge in Ballstad
Our car, an Opel Astra 1.6 TCDI 5-doors, was rented by Hertz at Leknes airport and was in perfect condition and provided with spike winter tyres.
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We hope you will enjoy reading about our trip that took us on a journey between storm and light. If you came through a search engine and only view this single intro post, then please click this link for the full travelogue: Travelogue Norway – Lofoten Islands 2013
Sandra Schaenzer & Gerhard Schoening
SA*GA Photography ~ Moments in Light ~
I was surprised not to hear the sound of rain when I got up and decided to give it a try this morning. So I just drove over to the area around the airport and took some photos of the fjord in the blue morning light with stormy clouds. It soon after started to rain and I packed my stuff again and drove back.
We enjoyed a hearty birthday breakfast and went back to Morfjorden to see if it would be dry enough to take photos of the ice sheets we had seen there two days ago.
Well, firstly: it was constantly raining and secondly: the ice was almost gone and the remainders just looked ugly. So we left without a photo, returned to the rorbuer for lunch and drove to Brenna after a short nap.
It finally was dry for more than two minutes and I grabbed some photos of the rugged coast with stormy clouds that turned out quite nicely. You can achieve attractive photos in bad conditions and this has been my goal, too – but not ONLY bad weather photos!
The weather looked a bit more friendly on the other side near Skokkelvika and we quickly drove over. In the end it was as dull as everywhere and we called it a day after we tried to capture a few subjects.
Back to Svolvær where we found the bottle store already closed – great. So we did some food shopping, returned to the rorbuer, had dinner and a quiet evening. We surely will celebrate Gerd’s birthday when we are back home!
Highlight of the day: the photo shooting at Brenna beach
There was a change this morning! When I got up, I was not only greeted by pouring rain but also by a strong wind that almost blew me into the fjord! So I went inside our cosy home again, had a coffee and read the news.
We had to leave Lofoten Rorbuer today and head on to Henningsvær for the following four days. We were a bit sad to leave this perfect and recommendable accommodation that suited all our needs. The apartment is very modern with all conveniences, a complete kitchen including dishwasher and washing machine and an automated constant supply of filtered fresh air in all rooms.
We had breakfast, packed the car and said goodbye to Ruth, the owner. It was unbelievable but the sun had come out in the meantime and we stopped by where the golden light shined nicely on the foreground. So I took my first photos in good light! Will they be the first and last…?
We went food shopping in the large supermarket before we left Svolvær for Henningsvær. Our home for the next four nights would be Henningsvær Rorbuer that we found very quickly at the seafront of the small fishing village.
We were welcomed by Marianne, paid the rest of the bill and moved into our cabin No. 17. It is a typical renovated Norwegian Rorbuer but not as comfortable as our last accommodation despite being more expensive. It has a small living room with a kitchenette and two bedrooms with one bath room each. The view is nice but the terrace is not overlooking the sea. It is still a very cosy home and we will be fine here.
We left our bags in the room and set off for the afternoon trip. We first paid a visit to the beach of Unstad but it was high tide and the most attractive stones were under water. It seems that the Lofoten Islands have become a very popular destination among photographers in the meantime and there were already a couple of fellow photographers exploring the beach.
We left and continued to Uttakleiv beach, another well-known location. The stones were nice and occasionally washed over by waves and I tried some long exposures. Soon after, another large group of photographers arrived and we left. They were not disturbing us at all but I prefer to be more or less alone in a location; it is just a better experience and more enjoyable. We stopped three kilometers away at Haukland beach where we were all alone and the rocks are even more attractive at one side of the beach.
I happily played with the rocks, the waves and long exposures until it was already late afternoon and we drove back to Henningsvær. Hold on, there was one more stop at Rolvsfjorden where the water was perfectly calm for a reflection of the mountains. That was fun!
We arrived in Henningsvær just in time for the blue hour and took photos of the picturesque harbour. The fisher boats were getting ready for the night fishing and the lights of the boats and houses illuminated the harbour nicely.
We drove back to the rorbuer, prepared a nice Chicken Tikka Masala and spent the evening by a glass of wine, reading and writing this travelogue. There was no hope for Northern lights tonight again.
Highlight of the day: Hauklund beach
This morning started just as any other mornings but yet a little different: there was a heavy gale blowing outside and once again, I did not bother to go out. But, fresh snow has fallen and the landscape was wearing its winter dress again – good news!
We left Henningsvær today and moved to our last destination of this trip: Solsiden Brygge Rorbuer in Ballstad. We were ready to leave by nine o’clock and left the key in the mail box as nobody was around. We did like the accommodation at Henningsvær Rorbuer but the value for money was not really satisfying. With 1800 NOK a night it was the most expensive accommodation with the least comfort, i.e. there was no water boiler, no oven, only two hotplates and the rooms were tiny. The location is great, people are friendly but our opinion is that it is highly overpriced.
We passed Haukland on our way to Ballstad which was a treat for the eye with the fresh snow and the gale has disappeared completely on this side of the island. I dedicated a few more shots to the nice rocks with the sea and the mountains while Gerd took close-ups of sea weed on the beach with the small Canon G1X.
We enjoyed our time very much and continued to Leknes after two hours to fill up the car before we headed to Solsiden Brygge Rorbuer. The reception was locked and so we had to call the Lady who arrived 20 minutes later. We checked in, payed the bill and she showed us the rorbuer after a quick chat. This is the accommodation with the lowest price but definitely beats the rorbuer in Henningsvær: the living room with a well equipped kitchen is large as well as a spacious bathroom and a comfortable sleeping room. Good value for money and recommendable.
We just dropped our luggage and went off for the day trip as it has cleared up in the meantime. We found some ice sheets on the beaches of Flakstadpollen fjord and spent some time there to capture the magnificent winter scenery. Flakstad beach looked great, too, with the fresh snow and we had a lot of fun to explore the rocks and the beach. It was already time to return as the weather looked very promising for tonight and we wanted to have dinner in the rorbuer before we would go out again to chase the Northern light.
We made a last stop at a viewpoint near Napp that offers a breathtaking view over the Storvatnet lake that was nicely covered with ice sheets while the sun set in the distance. Simply stunning – I just love the Norwegian scenery!
We returned to the rorbuer, had a quick dinner and set off again. There was still twilight but when we reached the area of Myrland, we already spotted the first Northern lights – yaaay!!! There was a real fireworks going on in the sky for over three hours and we were overwhelmed and excited about it. It is just so special to see this green light dancing across the sky and for some minutes, we even had a giant bow across the whole fjord – breathtaking!!
We changed locations to Flakstadpollen fjord and Flakstad beach and were just over the moonWay too soon, clouds came in again and the weather changed. It was already snowing when we arrived back at the rorbuer in Ballstad and it would not stop until the next morning.
We went to bed – tired but very, very happy.
Highlight of the day: the fireworks in the sky
It was still overcast when I got up but I nevertheless went outside for a stroll around the area of the rorbuer.
I went up to the lighthouse and found some nice tranquil compositions of the mountains with the offshore rocks. It slowly cleared up as predicted by the weather forecast service: a nice dry day with clouds and sun was about to start…
I returned to the rorbuer, we had breakfast and started our day trip. We were looking forward to visiting Reine as we both like this spectacular area very much and we wanted to see how it has changed after our last visit eight years ago. We made our first stop at Hella along Torsfjorden where the winter scenery was at its best with a frozen lake and snow covered mountains.
It was overcast with a bit of sunshine when we arrived in Reine and I happily took some photos of Reinefjorden. This is one – if not THE one – place of the Lofoten Islands that I like the most. Lots of drama, steep mountains, deep fjords and dramatic light – it is all on the plate for youWe had lunch in the car when we first noticed a black wall of clouds approaching the southern tip of the island. Hmmm….
Soon after we had finished our sandwiches, the snow storm started and won’t stop anymore! Dry weather? What a joke again!!! When we drove back towards Leknes, it was snowing heavily and I was almost driving in a complete white-out for twenty minutes!
When we drove over the pass near Napp, I noticed a single light spot and was dead sure it was at Uttakleiv.
I quickly changed the route to pass by and yep – when we left the tunnel, we were greeted by the most beautiful light and… three mini buses with fellow photographers. There were about a dozen people with tripods hanging around on the beach and I was quietly trying to find my place between them. Not very pleasant and I was a bit disappointed with this situation on my last day and the only real sunset I have had hereWell, I tried to make the best out of it and did achieve some nice long exposure shots.
The light faded quickly and we returned to the car to warm up. I thought I could take some more photos during the blue hour on Haukland beach but when we came out of the tunnel, we already saw the snow storm approaching that has caught us again.
So we went back to Ballstad, had our last Kjøtboller dinner and waited if it would clear up again. It did not take very long and we saw the first stars – yay, rushing to the car and off we were. We checked Myrland first and were greeted by a huge northern light already. The same large bow over the whole fjord as yesterday – fantastic!!
We spent some time there before we went over to Flakstad beach. To our big surprise, there was no other photographer! We could not believe our luck and I headed to the beach – just in time for an incredible sky fireworks. The aurora was large and very strong and I especially liked the green reflections in the wet sand of the beach. The aurora was shining continuously without a single break and suddenly the whole beach and the mountains were illuminated by a giant corona. Yikes…!!!
We were looking breathlessly up into the sky that seemed to explode upon us like a giant star in green and purple. It was an incredible, marvelous, majestic moment that I will never ever forget in my life. Gigantic, fantastic – simply marvelous! The fireworks did not stop and went on for another few hours. Waw…!
We changed to Haukland beach at 1:00 am and enjoyed another hour of a great aurora display. A fantastic location for the auroras with lots of foreground interest that made me happily smiling. And again, no other photographers! We both did not understand their absence – perhaps they were all put off by the bad weather after sunset. I did not feel wind nor the cold while I was watching the aurora dance in the sky.
The aurora got weaker at 2:30 am and we called it a day/night and headed back to the rorbuer – completely overwhelmed by what we have been able to observe this night.
Highlight of the day: the magnificent corona