We awoke to the beautiful winter scenery of Hellemofjorden. The first view that greeted most of us was of rounded mountain ridges rising out of the narrow fjord, the tops covered with a fine layer of newly fallen snow. It was another day of typical Norwegian weather: low clouds that occasionally offered a glimpse of the blue sky, whilst light rain, fine hail, and even snow made us aware that, yes, indeed…we were on our way north. We were definitely in the Arctic!
Our landing today was at the end of Hellemofjorden. From here, it is only about 3.7 miles (6 km) to the Swedish border! Snug in the steep mountain walls lies a tiny summer settlement called Hellemobotn, which is only accessible by boat. We quickly left behind the few houses, which are temporarily used by a group of Sámi reindeer herders. Many of us hiked across the diverse terrain, through one of those typical primeval, temperate Norwegian rainforests of conifers and birch. We continued alongside a river towards a waterfall that looked like a huge water slide. Some of us Zodiac cruised the fjord and explored this peaceful, remote place from sea level. Today was by far the coldest day of our trip, so everybody was happy to be greeted onboard with cups of hot chocolate!
We spent the afternoon onboard. After another delicious lunch, Captain Martin Graser invited us into the Ice Lounge for his presentation, "What is so special about this new Lindblad Expedition ship." He enthusiastically informed us about azipods, x-bows, ice-strengthening, and the amazing steering capabilities of National Geographic Resolution. In the late afternoon, we cruised Tysfjord, the deepest fjord in Northern Norway, reaching 2,943 feet (897 meters) below sea level. We stopped beneath Norway’s national mountain, Stetind, where the hotel department offered a wine tasting in the den on deck 8, accompanied by a delicious assortment of cheese and sweets. After this, we enjoyed an equally educating and entertaining lecture by Dennis, who talked about, "Plants and Lichens of Norway.” During the adjacent daily recap, Carl Erik Kilander enlightened us about the Sámi. These Finno-Ugric-speaking people inhabit the region of Sápmi, formerly known as Lapland. Kerstin Langenberger amused us with the story of Brigadier Sir Nils Olav III, a king penguin that happens to be colonel-in-chief of the Norwegian King's Guard. National Geographic photographer Nick Cobbing gave us insights into his photography before our expedition leader, Stefano Pozzi, informed us about tomorrow’s plans. We rounded off our day with another fantastic dinner as we sailed silently through the fjords of Vesterålen.
National Geographic Resolution
Smøla and Veiholmen, Brattværet
Under the cover of low hanging clouds, we set out for our second day of adventure along the Norwegian coast. In the midst of a windmill park and only a short Zodiac ride from the ship, we were met by our local guides at the little dock on Smøla and on the small island of Brattværet. A bus ride along the shoreline took one group through the low, vegetated landscape to Veiholmen for a guided town walk. Born and raised locally, our guide shared his own story as well as the one of the little village as he took us through the narrow, charming streets of Veiholmen. Once a very active fishing town, most buildings in the village are now summer houses. We finished up the tour at a little fishing museum that featured, among other things, a hip-replacement as a fishing hook. We grabbed a coffee at the local grocery store, where we were met by a colorful selection of indoor plants and Norwegian chocolate. Meanwhile, on the island of Brattværet, local guides took us around the windblown terrain. We explored the sights and history of the small community, and we enjoyed the view from a little hill. We concluded our hike with a well-deserved, traditional morning tea – which, in Norwegian, translates to coffee and waffles. Back on board our beautiful ship, we enjoyed a delightful lunch followed by a presentation by Nick Cobbing. While sharing his story and blowing our minds with his incredible pictures, he let us in on the secret of how to become a National Geographic photographer. Following tea time, ornithologist Ciarán Cronin taught us everything about the grand migrations of species all over the planet – from the strenuous journey of the land turtles in the Galapagos to the humpback whales and Arctic terns that we hope to encounter on our voyage. We also learned how many birds are killed by outdoor cats and how swallows were once believed to turn into frogs in the winter. The sun peeked out and set just a bit later than yesterday. We continued our journey northward to the view of windmills amidst the fog.