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Destination: animals; wildlife in Arctic Norway

During the summer of 2023, we found ourselves without any definite vacation plans. I had already spent all my funds on family-related trips to the Netherlands, and the prospect of going somewhere didn't particularly appeal to us. That is, until an unfortunate twist of fate led a friendly couple to leave their car stranded in Kristiansand. With time on our hands, we decided to seize the opportunity and deliver the car to the far reaches of North-East Finnmark.

A reindeer herd in Arctic Norway

The quickest route would take around 22 hours, spanning over 2200 kilometers. Nevertheless, the fastest route doesn't always offer the most scenic journey, and opportunities to explore the extreme north don't come around often. Thus, we chose to veer off course near Kiruna, directing our path towards Narvik, and then meandering further into the North-Eastern reaches of Finnmark. It turned to be a journey spanning approximately 3600km.

Along our expedition, we stumbled upon what I believe to be one of North Norway's best-kept secrets: the tourist route from Russelv to Havøysund. Its allure lies chiefly in the indescribable landscape and the abundance of (wild) creatures encountered along the way. Within a mere 5 hours, we crossed paths with three moose, several sizable reindeer herds, a group of dolphins, a couple of reindeer carcasses, and, of course, sheep.

We located a camping spot a kilometer from Lillefjord, a tiny settlement nestled in a bend along the road to Havøysund. Although it was late, the midnight sun ensured that daylight persisted. After a meal, an intriguing 'spouting' sound caught my attention. My initial thought was perhaps a seal. I hurried towards the coast to investigate, discovering before long the source of the sound: about six dolphins. I called out to my partner, and with admiration, we observed the dolphins leisurely swimming deeper into the bay.

Shortly thereafter, something absurd unfolded. A small flock of sheep grazed near the shore. While not an uncommon sight, as the entire region is dotted with grazing sheep, somehow this particular flock managed to capture the attention of the dolphin troupe, which had drawn closer to the coastline. Whether intentional or not, I cannot say, but the dolphins commenced a frenzy of jumping and diving, successfully startling the sheep into a panicked run.

Laughter echoed as the flock took off. Luckily, I managed to capture the comical spectacle on film and submitted it to the Norwegian state broadcaster NRK. They found it equally amusing and featured it on their website.

The vast biodiversity and unspoiled nature in the northern reaches of the country prompted contemplation. As we strolled along the water's edge, I couldn't help but notice the copious amount of marine debris washing ashore. Much of this waste originates from the fishing industry, including buoys, fragments of fishing nets, styrofoam, aerosol cans, and shampoo bottles. Given the absence of municipal services in this remote corner of the world, it falls upon individuals to act responsibly. Hence, when you explore these regions, I hope you'll consider picking up a piece of plastic or a discarded fishing net and disposing of it in a proper waste container when you encounter one. It may be a drop in the ocean, but it's the least we can do.

This unexplored corner of the world is truly worth a visit. Aside from encountering the most amiable and accommodating locals and wildlife in Arctic Norway, you'll hardly come across anyone else. Reserve a tiny but charming apartment for a night in Havøysund. The ultimate gem in Havøysund is the restaurant 'Havets Smak', meaning the taste of the harbour. The seafood dishes they offer are genuinely exceptional, truly of the highest quality. And just look at the amount of people that have been at 'Havets Smak'. It's like discovering gold for the first the end of the world.

**Getting there: it is most likely you'll arrive at Narvik Airport (HFT). From there public transport really takes forever, so it is most wise to reserve a car in advance. Since Norway has one of the best fast-charging networks in the world, I would advise you to rent an electric car. Better for the environment, cheaper to charge and it gets you everywhere. Check here for availability.


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