Your meeting with the whales
Excited and expectant, you peer out over waves. Suddenly, someone cries “Whale!” You hurry over to the railing and catch sight of the first spout, a fountain of air and water rising into the air less than 100 metres away. Your heart starts to beat faster. You sense the size of the creature in the water close to the boat, gliding smoothly forward and breathing audibly for quite a while. Then it arches its back and flips its giant tail out of the water before disappearing back into the depths. All is quiet on the boat. You feel it too. The almost reverent atmosphere. The humility. You know that you will carry the memory of this meeting with you. For a long, long time!
Whale safari in Vesterålen
Nowhere else along the Norwegian coast is the continental shelf as close to the mainland as in Vesterålen. This is an area rich in nutrition, and the only place where you are almost certain (95%) to see whales on even short trips. There are currently two operators that organise whale safaris: one from Andenes and one from Stø.
Hvalsafari AS, Andenes
Ever since 1988, Hvalsafari from Andenes has been organising whale safaris that link together research, learning and pure experience. The concept has attracted plenty of attention both nationally and internationally. The Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society, which has specialised in assessing whale safaris, gave the following evaluation: “Hvalsafari AS from Andenes – the largest and best operator of Arctic whale safaris in the world.”
From Andenes, it only takes an hour or so to sail out to the whales, which means that you have much more time to watch the magnificent creatures. Communication of knowledge plays a key role in the arrangements, and the trips start with a guided tour of the Whale Centre. The guides on board and at the Whale Centre are students and researchers from a variety of different countries. Most of them are focusing on sea mammals as their specialist area. This means that each trip can also be viewed as a research project. The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research has asked guests on whale safaris from Andenes for their opinions about the trip – and 96% recommended the experience to others. Perhaps it will be your turn this year …
Sea Safari Andenes - by Rib
Sea Safari Andenes goes out at Sea with a RiB boat. That means you get quickly out to where the whales are, and you can get really up close. Some people will find the close contact with the waves daunting, others are fascinated by it. A briefing of the ecology of the ocean by marine biologists is a good start.
Arctic Whale Tours, Stø
From the delightful little fishing village of Stø on the northern tip of Langøya in Vesterålen, Arctic Whale Tours operates whale safaris every day from June until August. This is the perfect way to see and experience some of the biggest creatures in the world.
Spend a whole day on the open sea, where there is a good chance of spotting several species of whale. The most common sight is the sperm whale, but you may also be lucky enough to see pilot whales, minke whales, humpback whales, dolphins and killer whales. From the middle of June until the end of July, we also organise night safaris – which give you a unique opportunity to experience whales under the midnight sun. On the trip out, we also visit the seabird and seal colonies at Anda Fyr. Here, you can spot seabirds such as the white-tailed eagle, common guillemot, great cormorant and a multitude of puffins. You will also experience magnificent and dramatic nature, plenty of fresh sea air and surroundings that are sure to make a real impression!
Links and information
The following companies in the Vesterålen Islands offer whale safaris:
- Arctic Whaletours, Stø: www.arcticwhaletours.no
- Hvalsafari, Andenes: www.whalesafari.no
- Sea Safari Andenes http://www.seasafariandenes.no
It's also a good idea to contact the tourist board of the Vesterålen islands to learn more about all the other things you can experience: