"" Writer's Wanderings: Safari On Water At The North Cape of Norway

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Safari On Water At The North Cape of Norway

All suited up in thermal buoyant suits and life vests, it was time to board the RIB boat. One look and I knew I was in trouble. The seats were made to straddle. I could barely move as it was (not to mention the bad ankle). I was so bundled up I felt like Randy in his red snowsuit in Christmas Story. 

As I danced about trying to figure it all out, Johnathon, our captain, looked at Bob and told him to lift my leg over while he kept me from falling. It was all done so quickly, I had no idea how it happened. 

Suddenly I was straddling the seat like riding a horse. Thankfully my toes touched the bottom of the boat. It brought back several painful memories of other horseback rides not too far in the distant past and I figured they were going to have to carry me back when this was done.

The six of us were all seated and ready to go. Johnathon did a few maneuvers with the boat so we could get the feel of it. Surprisingly the seat was quite comfortable as it supported my back. He promised no high speeds or quick turns. It would be an easy ride. And it was.

We all searched the shores and the slight waves for any sighting of birds or marine life. There was a chance of seeing minke whales or dolphins or seals and lots of birds. Most of the birds we saw were sea gulls and dotted the small islands we explored with their bright white feathers. Today the sun was making them brilliant. 

Along with the large gulls were a smaller breed called kittiwakes. They had large colonies on the islands and would rise up in a group and take to the sky. Dotted among the gulls and kittiwakes were large black cormorants. 

Trust me. The little dot on 
the left is a puffin.

Several times we saw an eagle soaring above our heads. Not easy to catch on camera with the boat bouncing and turning and sitting in close quarters. 

Once in a while I would see small birds skimming the top of the water and wondered if they were puffins but they usually turned out to be black and white guillemots.

At last we saw a puffin! It was floating by itself although Johnathon mentioned that there were others flying about. I never caught sight of them. We circled the little guy who would disappear beneath the surface and pop up again as he went after food. This is the time of year they are still out in the water feeding. I managed one shot where he was actually in the picture. Look closely. Some day we'll be in the right place at the right time to get to see them on land when they're nesting.

Rounding the end of one island, Bob spotted the head of a large seal who was in the water. He bobbed up and down and dove a couple of times but wasn't curious enough about us to get too close. 

Enough bird watching, we took off to view the North Cape from below. It truly is an amazing place. When Johnathon told us about the winter waves being so high that they wash over the islands we'd been around, I could only imagine the pounding that the cliff walls of the North Cape take in the winter. This was the perfect day however to be boating and viewing the shoreline. The waves were minimal and the sun was warm. The breeze only picked up a bit toward the end of our water adventure.

Back on land we were treated to coffee or tea once we were out of our thermal suits. We enjoyed the relaxing moments and talking about our experience as a group. Johnathon offered us the opportunity to add on to our excursion. Since it was such a beautiful day and we had plenty of time before needing to be back on the ship would we like to drive up to the North Cape and view it from the top? We all agreed and paid an extra fee for the trip. A good part of the fee would go for the entrance fee to the area. They charge per person and per vehicle. 

It was a bit chilly on top since it was an open area and the wind was blowing a little harder. There is a building with a gift shop and cafeteria and some places to view from inside. We walked around a bit and looked at the globe that is the iconic symbol of the North Cape and some other monuments, in particular the Children of the Earth monument.

The monument is dedicated to the destitute children of the world and each year a prize is awarded to an individual or a project that has demonstrated compassion and ability to help children that suffer somewhere in the world. 

At  71° 10′ 21″ N25° 47′ 4″ E the North Cape is often said to be the northernmost point of Europe. It's not. There is a piece of land that extends about 5,000 feet further north but it isn't quite so dramatic as the North Cape cliff. 

Our group had spotted lots of reindeer here and there along the way. Johnathon couldn't stop along the road for pictures. The road was pretty busy with busses and cars and a lot of campers. He did have a friend who was very accommodating though. This friend is a surgeon for seven months out of the year but for four or five months he honors his Sami heritage by coming back to take care of his reindeer and dress in the Sami traditional dress for the visitors. 

We stopped at a spot along the road that was set up with a small gift shop in a wooden shelter along with some artifacts. Inside you could purchase some warm gear like boots made out of real reindeer hide.

Outside was a fenced in area with two reindeer. This time of year they are shedding their whitish colored fur for a darker brown. We were told the rabbits do the same thing in the spring. One of the reindeer was very used to tourists. The other was in training so to speak and was a bit skittish. He had to bring him up the hill on a tether. 

Photo ops done, we loaded the van and headed back to Honningvag admiring the beautiful landscapes along the way and learning more about life in the most northern parts of the world. It was not without mutual sharing of customs in our country as well and a discussion of gun laws. There is a ban on automatic weapons and handguns must be a certain calibre. To modify a gun into a semiautomatic is a felony offense. 

After much thanks and appreciation extended to our wonderful guide who dropped us off near our ship, we made it back on board in just enough time to get the last few minutes of lunch on the Lido before it closed. 

It had been a spectacular day and I was so grateful to have found a tour operation who treated us so well and offered us such a wonderful experience. Just in case you need to information if you are visiting the North Cape any time in the future here is the link to The North Cape Experience website. There are several different tours offered and they were extremely accommodating for cruise passengers. Baring bad weather, you will have an excellent time and I'm guessing even if the weather is bad, Johnathon and his staff will find a way for you to enjoy your visit.

Our day of beautiful sights was not ended with our return to the ship. The day was so perfect that the captain actually slowed the ship at the North Cape and turned it around completely to give everyone a view of the Cape. It was after dinner but the sun was still up and wouldn't set again until we made our way past the Arctic Circle in another day or two. We sat on our veranda and wrapped ourselves in a blanket to keep warm when the ship turned and we were in the shade. It was peaceful and restful and satisfying. 

What a day it had been!

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