An amazing 2 hour RIB trip from Svolvaer introduced us up close and personal to 25 sea – eagles, a must do trip for anyone who loves wildlife and especially, eagles! It was one of the best boat trips I’ve ever been on and a highlight of our time in Norway. Not cheap at £79 a skull but an amazing experience.We went with Lofoten Explorer who were excellent.
The trip also takes you up the Trollfjord, the narrowest section of water that the huge Hurtigruten ferries have to navigate. Superb coastal scenery throughout and a very nice, interesting man, Gunnar, who runs the trip – it was a privilege to meet him as he was one of the people who re-introduced sea eagles to Scotland 25 years ago.
Actually, as we set off from our Haukland base early doors for the hour or so’s drive north, we didn’t expect the trip to be on. The wind was fierce and the sea was whipped up into white horses.
I’d had a few texts back and forth with Gunnar and asked where they were based.’Opposite Bacalao, you can’t miss us, ‘ he’d said.Well, that small restaurant wasn’t exactly Buckingham Palace and easy to spot, nor signposted and this town is a fairly big one. Had a few moments of cursing as we hit dead ends (the harbour area is quite convoluted and spread out) but finally made it.We had around 10 minutes to spare for the ‘check in’ for the trip. Just as we walked out of the handy parking area, I noticed a small parking meter sign AND it had a 2 hour limit.God knows how much that would have cost us in fines! So we took another 5 mins to find free parking with no time limit.Good job we’d set off with a 90 minute window for travel after being told it would only take 45 mins!
In fact, our RIB was the only boat going out that morning – “I have 800 horsepower, no problem,’ says Gunnar. ‘It will handle these seas fine.’ Gulp.It looked wild out there.
We were given a LOT of quality gear to put on – padded, super warm flotation suits, goggles against the spray and mega mittens, life jackets.We would be travelling at a fair speed and it’s bitterly cold in a boat, even in summer.I feel the cold a lot but was toasty the whole trip.
What a trip! Wow – the speed of that RIB.I loved it – it was like being on a fairground ride or a Bucking Bronco given the swell and the waves.Down we would plunge into a trough then up, up, UP over the next wave.Whoops and shouts from all on board.That only lasted for a fairly short time as we soon entered much more sheltered water. And then the first two sea eagles arrived.
‘Oh it’s Eddie!’ shouted Gunnar as he recognised one of the magnificent birds heading our way.He called to them and threw the first herring out onto the ocean.Each bird circled high above us then one came in for the kill and swooped down to pick it up off the ocean.Stunning and right in front of us!
Well, this was the pattern for most of the next 2 hours.We were told this was an unusually high number of sea eagles – the windy day made them more confident at approaching the boat closely as they were expert at using the up draught to speed off again if they felt threatened.Also , we were the only boat out feeding them!
You were allowed to get out of your seat when the RIB stopped, to take photos from the best angle.Our pilot was excellent at manoeuvring for the best shot.But it was incredibly difficult with mittens (soon discarded) and the rocking boat, to get anything really pin sharp and I missed so many chances to get a good photo of a bird swooping the fish up from the sea.I got into a real fankle several times, with goggles skidding across the boat at one point, my glasses going flying too and trying to constantly dry the lenses.You don’t need a big zoom on this trip – the birds are too close.
The Trollfjord was beautiful, with rushing waterfalls and snow covered peaks just visible. A lot of the mountain scenery along the coast was breath-taking.I think the thing would be to watch one of the big coastal ferries negotiate the tiny entrance, to really appreciate the scale of it all.To our pilot, this stretch of water was the most impressive of all the Norwegian coastline covered by the Hurtigruten and it was easy to see why he would say that.
The Trollfjord over and it was back to more sea eagles visiting the boat; it really was incredible.
The coastal scenery too was first class.
The journey back was even more dramatic as we hit the most open section of water again – it was an absolute roller-coaster of a ride and I admit I did scream out once in sheer excitement (ok slight horror too) as we literally plunged down into a deep trough of water which suddenly opened up in front of us like an abyss! Amazing!
Never any sense of danger or fear as such, it was a big, powerful, comfortable craft.And then we were puttering in to the calm waters of the harbour again and shaking Gunnar’s, thanking him for an incredible trip.Well worth every penny.
Lucky we went on the morning trip as the rising gale had already cancelled the afternoon trip and there were several very disappointed people walking out of the office.
A 10 out of 10 experience all round.Magnificent.