Andenes: looking for whales in the Arctic

For: Ricardo Coarasa (text and photos)
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True to my appointment with fatalism (I've always thought that anticipate setbacks is the best way to clear obstacles a trip), He crushed that night dozing in all things that could go wrong the next day. And the truth is that there were a few reasons to be uneasy. We had arrived a few days before the islands Lofoten, one of the northernmost regions of Norway, located above the Arctic Circle, and they separated us 211 kilometers Andenes, in the archipelago of Vesteralen. From there two boats depart daily in summer season in search of whales approach the continental shelf attracted by the abundance of sediments. The geographical location of Andenes, at 69 ° north latitude, It is so exceptional for the sighting of whales in the Arctic that the company that hired the boat ride, Whale Safari, If you back the money during the voyage is not given to them.

I lingered a few weeks before glancing at the online comments of travelers who had already risen to that boat. They were mostly positive, but some of them (“the worst experience of my life”) me nervous, especially those who counseled not to commit the audacity to embark with children, as in our case. Some of these outpourings were spattered with vomit, cold, dizziness and endless crossings (its duration was a arcano, because the usual three hours could be doubled if the whales are not localized).

we separated 211 kilometers of Andenes, where two boats depart daily in summer season in search of whales

Among the plethora of recommendations and warnings me take just a couple: avoid risk everything on one card and make at least one night in Andenes, if the conditions were not favorable, to repeat the next day, and bring warm clothing and spare.

It was clear that the comments were conditioned by time. He had to sharpen a lot to avoid rough seas, the omnipresent rain, especially, wind. So I do not booked the tickets until a week before, when weather forecasts and more atman their forecasts.

It was clear that some comments (“the worst experience of my life”) They were conditioned by time. He had to sharpen a lot to avoid rough seas

Book on the first boat, that departs at noon, It was unfeasible because you have to be there two hours and fifteen minutes before sailing to visit a museum about whales and that forced us to leave early camping where we slept, eleven kilometers Svolvaer. And with a maximum allowable speed 80 km / h (which often it boils down to 60 and 50 km / h when passing through towns through which a soul is never), the way to Andenes takes almost three hours. reserve, therefore, in the second boat, at four p.m. Yes, we played everything to a letter ignoring the sacrosanct advice.

If all went well, at seven they are waiting for us three hours to drive back to Svolvaer, where if the voyage stretched surely arrive after midnight. You had to take risks and, in any case, we could always improvise a night in Andenes.

The road was wet and, if I had been in my hand, I would have put a few candles fervent meteorologists were predicting good weather today

It was still raining when, just after seven o'clock, I approached Svolvaer for gas. There were too many gas stations along the way and it was better to travel with a full tank in case. The road was wet and, if I had been in my hand, I would have put a few candles fervent forecasters now predicting good weather for errasen not in her predictions.

We had to make the first 70 kilometers along the E-10, the road of King Olaf, main artery connecting north and south islands making use of countless bridges and tunnels through a spectacular landscape of fjords guarded by mountains that seem to spring from the bowels of the earth. Innumerable unless you're forced to circulate 80 km / h maximum, when you have time to count. I counted eight tunnels to the turnoff to the RV-85.

Three hours after leaving Svolvaer we are in Andenes, where the reference to follow is Harbor Lighthouse. There the road ends

last Strand (where a gas station) and a few kilometers from works, My six year old daughter vomits and we have to change clothes, so it stays without replacement. Faced with the possibility of doing so on the boat puked it is better to come home.

The map that we are just in the Forfjord, before crossing to the island of Andoya, and in the archipelago of Vesteralen, where we circulated by this variant of the RV-82. Three hours after leaving Svolvaer we are in Andenes, where the reference to follow is Harbor Lighthouse. There the road ends. Across the waters of the Norwegian Sea extend, further north they merge with the Barents Sea, one of those names that punctuate the history of polar exploration.

We approach the tourist office in search of a map. Should always be maps of the sites you visit. It is the best photograph

We parked a few meters from the lighthouse. Blows quite windy and cold but the sun shines. The first boat has already left and you have to wait again. We kill time in a playground with a trampoline and approached the tourist office in search of a map. Should always be maps of the sites you visit. It is the best photograph.

After lunch something, remove the entries in the office Whale Safari, where surprised to hear me talk a lot in Spanish. All comes in a bus on a trip organized by the Northern Norway. At quarter past two we started the tour of the museum. A young man with an excellent Castilian makes us guide. He lives in Tarragona and explains that work here only during the summer to pump money. The tour is interesting to learn more about whales, but it's like that appetizer you want to eat as soon as possible to be served the main course. And the main course is Andenes, certainly, navigation in search of cetaceans.

our boat, Reine, It has already come and entertain myself observing the faces of the passengers coming down if a face contorted gives me a hint of what awaits us

our boat, Reine, It has already come and entertain myself observing the faces of the passengers coming down if a face contorted gives me a hint of what awaits us. I eat before boarding a pill against seasickness Ginger who have given us in the offices of Whale Safari. The flavor is downright repellent (Should we rather swallow without diluting with saliva?) and I just spitting it out.

It's half past three when we boarded and the truth is that the day may not be better: not just wind blows, the sea is calm and looks glorious sunshine. Without it serving as precedent, I bless all those born meteorologists and for.

Approaching the bridge or bow requires a certain balance to climb a couple of flights of stairs and overcome the rocking of the boat clutching the handrail

The cruise is nice, even for children, sausages in two lifejackets, although we must keep warm if too much time is spent on deck. Another option is to fight the cold shelter inside a while, in a room with benches and tables very apropos, or take a coffee or a steaming hot tea with biscuits being served on board whenever you want (we pay 340 euros for four tickets, so the free term seems to me unnecessary euphemism).

Approaching the bridge or bow requires a certain balance to climb a couple of flights of stairs and overcome the rocking of the boat clutching the handrail. My daughter Africa, who knows no fear, He insists up again and again. The captain takes a hydrophone to listen to the breath of the sea and capture the sounds emitted by whales within four kilometers. But we have more than an hour on board, which it has passed very quickly, and for now there is no trace of cetaceans. And that despite a compatriot reassures his sons convinced that “This is like in Africa, with the lion waiting for you to see tourists”. Obvious that has never done a safari in Africa, but his family laughs occurrence inertia. Reoffend before we got on deck. It's the good thing about having traveled something: imbeciles detector seldom fails.

A fellow reassures his sons convinced that “This is like in Africa, with the lion waiting for you to see tourists”

Two crew members climb the mast to scan the horizon for some whale and, hour and a half after leaving finally found the first cetacean. The Reine approaches about 200 cachalote meters from the port side and all passengers hold our breath. Only the sound of cameras and listening snorting animal, spewing a cloud of water over his immense prehistoric loin. “¡Diving!”, Captain heard screaming moments later warning of the imminent immersion, when the tail of the whale, emerging from the water like a black flash of ancient times, It gives intruders a few seconds, well worth a long journey. I see my emotion reflected in the eyes of my daughter, ignitions astonishment, and that expectant look redeems my fatalism.

sperm whales, as we have explained above, can live 60 years and reach a weight of 40 tons (fatten their calves reach 100 kilos per day). more than a thousand meters dive for their favorite food, Giant Squid, and endure to 90 minutes underwater. Therefore, Watch emerge from the water is a lottery. Currently they are almost endangered. Orcas and pilot whales (formerly, also the man) are the main predators.

Whale tail, emerging from the water like a black flash of ancient times, It gives intruders a few seconds, well worth a long journey

The excitement of the moment happens half hour cruise that catches all the experience we still mulling. Nobody needs another finding, but it arrives and again we are on the side, this time much closer, other cachalote. Casual matter little spanners recidivist skeptical. “It's the same as before”, aerates jocular doing more merits for someone to jettison.

This time the cetacean overlooks the right of the boat and, unfailingly, the passage throng the starboard deck which makes the Reine swinging over the first account causing dizziness and vomiting. Nothing serious. An employee of Whale Safari urges passengers over to the other side of the cover, but no one is giving up the work of the best views of the sperm whale and the boat sinking. his obstinacy, ours, fortunately does not pass higher.

Following the advice of our guide at the museum, back on the road along the west coast of Andoya by Bleik, Hoyvík STATE, refuge of a handful of sublime landscapes

After enjoying a new dive of the cetacean, that stops time during those brief moments when its tail disappears beneath the waters, back to Andenes, where we landed at quarter to seven. Following the advice of our guide at the museum, back on the road along the west coast of Andoya by Bleik, Hoyvík and Stave, refuge of a handful of sublime landscapes of cliffs and fjords twilight does nothing but enhance these hours.

Inevitably, the succession of stops extends the return trip, that this sum plus other route 20 km. past Noss and will, the road connects with the FV-82 on the other side of the island, the same as we have taken on the way, so we soon became familiar with the route. Glimmer of sunsets characteristic of this time of year, never just languish (in fact it is not done at night until almost noon and darkness only lasts a couple of hours), accompanies us highway road of King Olaf, where you have to be careful with occasional roadside radars in ambush. At ten o'clock the night we are back in Svolvaer, where the dark clouds of fatalism while they have dissipated.

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Comments (5)

  • Laura

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    What a story, What story and how cold! Wonderful suspense of not knowing whether it will be the whale show… I love

    Answer

  • Ricardo

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    Thanks Laura! And really it was not so cold wearing the right clothes. I'm glad that you liked it

    Answer

  • javier Brandoli

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    A good story friend. I liked to imagine seeing the eyes of sperm whales Africa

    Answer

  • Beatriz

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    Congratulations. No es común leer relatos tan bien escritos, with such vocabulary and charisma. I felt I was on the boat. I almost dizzy 😉 Noting experience. Greetings.

    Answer

  • ricardo

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    Thank you very much, Beatriz. That is what, to live it and tell it in the best way possible. And if you have occasion to come closer Lofoten. You will not regret. VAP soon publish a report on the islands with lots of practical information. Greetings

    Answer

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