Photo: Sonja van Berkel
Trip Number: 13725A
Price: $2,995 (12-15)
$3,195 (or fewer)
Staff: Kern Hildebrand
- Sail comfortably aboard a two-masted schooner
- Experience twilight days and peak-season viewing potential of the northern
- Enjoy shore landings, hikes, fishing village exploration
- Seven nights aboard the schooner, one pre-sailing hotel, all meals
- Naturalist guide throughout the trip
- All gratuities
Photo: Kern Hildebrand
The Lofoten is an archipelago in northern Norway. The islands, around 80 in
total, are located above the Arctic Circle. Most of the islands are mountainous,
the highest peak (Higravstinden) measuring 1,161 meters (3,800 feet). Lofoten
stretches out like a wall of mountains, the "Lofoten Wall." Between
the mainland and Lofoten lies Vestfjord. It is here that we will voyage on our
sailing vessel Noorderlicht. The Noorderlicht is a beautiful 46-meter-long schooner
that was built in 1910. The passenger capacity is only 20; it is the ideal ship
for those who want a small-group experience. The deckhouse and saloon are cozy
and spacious. The deckhouse of the Noorderlicht contains a library with a good
selection of books on Lofoten and the Arctic, besides a selection of novels
in various languages. A great moment to catch up on the books you always wanted
to read. You can also enjoy the good Noorderlicht cuisine. In the evenings lectures
are given, and movies and documentaries are shown.
The first settlers on Lofoten arrived more than 6,000 years ago. These Stone
Age dwellers lived from fishing and hunting; at that time Lofoten was covered
by an extensive pine forest. Although these ancient people did not leave much
behind, evidence of their existence can be found in the petroglyphs they carved
in the hard Lofoten rock. In Leiknes life-size pictures were carved of a Killer
Whale, Elk and birds. Lofoten has been the center of Cod fisheries for more
than a thousand years. Cod migrate from the Barents Sea to the south and gather
in Lofoten to spawn. The dried and salted Cod, "Stockfish" or "Bacalao,"
was the staple food in Lofoten and was sold all over the world.
One of the great attractions of the Lofoten area is the northern lights. Not
many people know that the islands are located at exactly the right latitude
for seeing the Aurora Borealis. The northern lights are caused by eruptions
on the sun and can only be seen when it is dark. The fairly long periods of
darkness in November and December make our Lofoten expedition an ideal opportunity
to admire this unbelievable phenomenon. Furthermore, the northern lights can
only be seen when there is little light disturbance, something that is guaranteed
The climate in Lofoten is very mild considering its location north of the Arctic
Circle. This is due to the warming effect of the Atlantic Gulf Stream. Daytime
temperatures in November and December range from 28º to 39ºF. In autumn,
strong winds can be expected, but quiet days with blue sky are also not uncommon.
Snow and sleet can also be expected, and the mountains can have substantial
amounts of snow.
Photo: Kern Hildebrand
Due to its location within the Arctic Circle Lofoten experiences the midnight
sun in summer. This also means that the sun does not rise above the horizon
in winter, in this case from the 4th of December until the 7th of January. The
consequence of this for our Lofoten expedition is that there will be a substantial
amount of darkness. This might sound less attractive, but experience shows that
it adds to the voyage. Through the daytime there can be great light shows, created
by the low sun, while in the evening and at night there are good chances to
observe the northern lights.
The Lofoten voyages are very dependent on the weather, which can be quite rough.
Therefore the itinerary of the voyage as given is just for guidance. Programs
may vary depending on weather conditions and in order to take advantage of opportunities
to see wildlife. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.
Participants are welcome to assist the captain in hoisting sails or steering
the ship. For those who have always wanted to view the sea from the "crow's
nest," this is your opportunity! (With approval from the captain, of course!)
Most nights we will dock at a town. We can take evening and/or morning walks
into town as time allows.
Day 1: Arrive by public bus at a hotel near the village of
Day 2: Arrive by public bus in Lödingen. Staying on the
sailing ship "Noorderlicht" in the harbor of Lødingen.
Day 3: Depart from Lødingen and set sail for the Tysfjord.
In the afternoon we land to climb the hill at Skarvberget, which is an outlook
post for Sea Eagles. We stay for the night in the small harbor of Korsnes, a
village at the entrance of the Tysfjord.
Day 4: Enjoy a morning walk to the Stone Age petroglyphs at
Leiknes. Images of animals such as a Killer Whale and Elk have been carved into
the hard rock in the hills. In the afternoon we sail to the island of Skrova
where we arrive late in the afternoon. We stay there for the night. Skrova is
a small, rugged island where the 200 inhabitants mainly live from fishery. It
is one of the few places in Norway from where whale hunters still hunt for Minke
Photo: Kern Hildebrand
Day 5: The morning walk on Skrova is an easy walk that brings
us to a nice bay on the other side of the island. The active passengers can
climb the 255-meter peak of Skrova for the 360º view. There will be a good
chance of seeing Sea Eagles during these walks. In the afternoon we sail for
Kabelvåg. Until the beginning of the 20th century, this beautiful historical
village was the center for the Lofoten Cod fisheries.
Day 6: For the hiking oriented, a morning walk from Kabelvåg
to Svolvær is offered along a hiking path through the hills. The Noorderlicht
will sail with the sailing enthusiasts to Svolvær. In the afternoon there
is the possibility of a visit to Svolvær, which is the biggest town of
Lofoten. We stay for the night in Svolvær so there is a chance of enjoying
the Svolvær nightlife.
Day 7: In the morning we sail into the Trollfjord, a famous
steep fjord a few hours' sailing from Svolvær. Afterward we head for Tranøy,
on the Norwegian mainland, where we stay for the night.
Day 8: In the morning we walk to the lighthouse of Tranøy
and admire the works of art that are placed in this small artists’ village.
Tranøy is known because of the Norwegian writer and Nobel-prize winner,
Knut Hamsun. With a good wind we might sail in the afternoon to Hustadgaard
in Vestbygd. Here we will have the opportunity to see the “Øye
I Stein" (Eye in Stone), a sculpture of 37 tons made by the Indian artist
Anish Kapoor. Then we have to head for Lødingen again. We expect to arrive
at Lødingen late in the evening, where we will stay for the night.
Day 9: We'll disembark from the Noorderlicht in the morning
for our transfer by public bus back to Evenes Airport for flights back to Oslo.
From there you can return to your home, or extend your trip in Norway or other
easily accessible destinations.
You will need to get a round-trip flight to Oslo, Norway, arriving at least
one day prior to the trip. Choose a flight from Oslo to Evenes, Norway, which
will leave Oslo on November 28 around noon. This is a one-hour flight. SAS is
the recommended airline. Upon your arrival in Evenes, you will take a well-marked
public bus for a short ride to our hotel near the embarkation village of Lodingon.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Jan Belgers
Our schooner has both lower and upper lounge areas. From the inside lounge
area one can look out the window and see the beautiful scenery in comfort, but
these are not big picture windows. The best viewing is from out on the deck
where the daytime temperatures will likely be in the 30s.
Participants traveling alone will be paired with a roommate of the same gender.
The cabins have twin bunk beds with a "skylight" as well as overhead
lighting. All cabins have a washbasin with hot and cold running water. The ship
is both well insulated and centrally heated. Electrical outlets are available,
but you will need an adaptor. The bathrooms and showers are a short distance
down the hall. No laundry facilities are available. The ship serves excellent
international cuisine. There is an "honor system" bar, with soft drinks,
beer, wine, and other drinks available.
In addition to a qualified and experienced captain, our schooner is crewed
by two expert sailors, a cook, and a naturalist guide who has a thorough knowledge
of the area. The main language spoken by the crew is English. Together they
will do everything possible to ensure that you have a wonderful and unforgettable
This trip is considered easy and is well suited to reasonably active persons
of all ages who enjoy sightseeing, sailing, and leisurely walks and hikes. Some
agility will be needed to traverse the steep stairs on the boat, and some walks/hikes
have uneven trails and may be muddy. Our daily sightseeing hikes and walks are
all optional, and usually allow you to walk at your own pace.
Most of our time will be spent in relatively sheltered fjords and well away
from the open ocean. However, winter sailing conditions, cold temperatures,
and potentially rough sailing are a possibility. We may very well have smooth
seas and clear skies, and we may have rough water, rain or snow, or all of these
conditions in turn. Things that will be a necessity are: sturdy legs, good balance
and making sure to hold onto handrails while onboard the ship, and warm, waterproof
clothing when on deck. Come well prepared with a spirit of adventure to the
beautiful Lofoten Islands.
Equipment and Clothing
Photo: Kern Hildebrand
No special equipment will be needed for this trip. Temperatures typically
range from 25-45 degrees (F) for this time of year. We may get sun, rain, and
snow all in the same day. The inside of the ship is kept at a comfortable temperature,
but you will need warm, preferably layered clothing for outside viewing and
excursions. You will also need waterproof clothing -- ski pants are ideal. Warm
gloves, a hat, and a scarf are a must. Over-the-ankle hiking boots are recommended
as some hikes will be on less-than-ideal trails and can be very muddy.
- Bruemmer, Fred, World of the Polar Bear. North Wood Press,
- Chernov, Yu I., The Living Tundra. Cambridge University Press.
- Freuchen, P. and F. Salomonson, The Arctic Year. Putnam &
- Millman, Lawrence, Last Places: A Journey to the North. Houghton
- Pielou, E.C,. A Naturalist's Guide to the Arctic.
We will be visiting a country where the air and waters are so much cleaner
and clearer than most countries! Unfortunately, they are not problem-free. Discharges
from fish farms have local impacts as well as long-term effects on the fjords.
Household and lawn chemicals are another source of water pollution. Acid rain
has degraded the quality of rivers and lakes, especially in southern Norway,
where many fish stocks have been depleted or completely lost. The accumulation
of mercury in freshwater fish is also cause for concern. Norway is also one
of the world’s few remaining whaling nations. We will discuss these and
other regional issues and see what comparisons we can find to issues at home.
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
Kern Hildebrand has plied the waters of Norway before and especially enjoys travel to the far northern and southern latitudes. A wilderness traveler since childhood, for over 25 years Kern has led or assisted on many Sierra Club Outings. These have included river rafting, sea kayak, backpack, horseback and international tours and treks to every continent. His conditioning for the trail and travel includes gardening (and otherwise tending his five acres of woodland), yoga classes, hiking and gym workouts. Kern observes, "Traveling by ship in and around the stunning fjords and islands of Norway is a very rewarding experience. I look forward to introducing others to this style of travel in such a beautiful and dramatic place."
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips