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Winter Whales of Norway -an actual dream realised but it wasn't all plain sailing!


kittykat23uk
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kittykat23uk

Many years ago I had a very vivid dream of swimming underwater surrounded by orcas. Each year my eye has turned towards Norway with a yearning to snorkel with these magnificent animals, and each year my eye has drifted away to some other destination that seemed to offer a warmer climate, better value for money and longer, more varied wildlife safaris that were ultimately less of an "all or nothing" proposition. Last November I finally took the plunge to get myself to Norway for a week in the hope of snorkelling with the pandas of the sea. 

 

It wasn't exactly plain sailing and for the majority of the trip I wondered whether I had made the right decision! I chose Norway, not just because it was a trip that I had been wanting to undertake ever since that dream, but also because as a fully vaccinated traveller, it was one of the easiest destinations to get to in terms of covid requirements. Norway didn't require any testing or quarantine as long as I had my vaccine passport and the UK at that time only required a lateral flow day 2 test upon arrival home. 

 

I looked at several operators, narrowed it to three. Waterproof Cruises and Expeditions, Northern Explorers A/S and Orca Norway. I eventually settled on Northern Explorers because they were both cheaper and had an extra day than Waterproof and Orca Norway. There are many more operators it seems than the ones I narrowed it down to, although I didn't find so many on the net.

 

The next thing to decide was on the timing of the trip. The trips are normally run from late October to mid January. But the trend from the past few years is that the orcas have been getting later and fewer are entering the inland fyords.  To the extent that the previous year, the orcas didn't arrive until the second week of November. Then you need to consider the light, the later in November, the less light there is, until the sun doesn't come above the horizon. So I decided to try and go when the peak of the activity should be, and flew out on the 19th November.

 

My flight was meant to be Heathrow- Oslo- Tromso- Sorkjosen. That is not what happened! Our flight to Tromso was not only delayed by an absent pilot but it then seems that the replacement pilot was not qualified to land at Tromso and they only began to question the legality of the landing as we were about to land! So we were diverted to Bodo where we landed, refuelled and then were flown back to Tromso, presumably with a new crew who could legally land a damned plane but of course the upshot is that I then missed my connection to Sorkjosen, which as it happened was also cancelled. Now whether that was because most of their passengers were on my flight I dont know.

 

I was pretty much on the verge of a full scale panic attack getting off at Tromso, there was no one on hand to help at all. I finally got directed to a desk, one poor guy was trying his best but getting nowhere fast. My baggage didn't turn up until over an hour later. At this point there was still no news about accommodation or onwards transport, so in the end Anya from Northern Explorers managed to supply me with the numbers of two other two other ladies on my boat and we then got our own accommodation sorted and were advised by Norther Explorers to catch a scheduled coach the next day to take us to the boat- about 3 hrs drive away. I didn't get any food on flight so my dinner consisted of a snickers bar and packet of crisps, but at least I had a bed and a plan for the next day. But there was no further contact from the airlines. 

 

  

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kittykat23uk

20th November 

 

We had time to kill in the morning so we took a walk around the town of Tromso. It was a bit snowy/sleety and rather grey.

 

51714122013_208ba5df9e_o.jpgPB200034 Eider ducks by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51713859131_0e1ae599ab_o.jpgPB200049 Tromso by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51708905605_d6d1379728_o.jpgIMG_20211120_113417 Tromso by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51708028276_c1d4f7e235_o.jpgIMG_20211120_141113 Tromso by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51708906075_0c5afaec41_o.jpgIMG_20211120_141116 Tromso by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51708700639_84d1805004_o.jpgIMG_20211120_141822 Scenic Norway - views from the bus by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

There wasn't masses to do. Eventually we boarded the coach to Skjervoy- which is where the boat was actually docked. The bonus scenery was spectacular!

 

51708700694_ca2b36ee19_o.jpgIMG_20211120_143756 Scenic Norway - views from the bus by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51708700879_2ddbaeef41_o.jpgIMG_20211120_144953 Scenic Norway - views from the bus by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51708906755_f0691b7f07_o.jpgIMG_20211120_145201 Scenic Norway - views from the bus by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51708299133_17d8c0366a_o.jpgIMG_20211120_145252 Scenic Norway - views from the bus by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51708029801_3b69e77505_o.jpgIMG_20211120_145518 Scenic Norway - views from the bus by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

We were relieved to hear that the boat had been stuck on the harbour due to the weather so we didn't actually miss a chance to snorkel with the orcas that day.  

 

Getting on our boat, the Duen iii was an experience as it was low tide there was quite a drop onto the boat, and then we had to cross over another icy boat to board the Duen, but the crew made it as safe and easy as possible for us to do so. 

 

51719491988_6ff7907bf4_o.jpgIMG-20211124-WA0022 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

The boat itself was beautiful inside, lovely rich wood, really nice, but unfortunately some of the cabins were a little on the small side, especially the one in the bow. I was expecting to have to share, but as it happened I had one of the twin bunk cabins to myself. The two ladies who I met up with in fact elected to rent an apartment in a nearby village instead of staying onboard because of how small the cabins were. 

 

51708703284_f2a44afae9_o.jpgIMG_20211121_205335 my cabin by Jo Dale, on Flickr

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Oh looking forward to this, but already convinced I don't want to go to Norway in winter  :o

 

>>There wasn't masses to do

 

What, you didn't want to go on the Ferris Wheel? :D:lol:

 

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Tom Kellie

~ @kittykat23uk: What a dream!

 

Yet real...

 

Thank you for posting this.

 

The seabirds in Tromsø harbour are a pleasant surprise.

 

      Tom K.

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mtanenbaum

Wow, what an adventure! I can't wait to hear more!

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Great dream Jo. Looking forward to this.

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kilopascal

Loving this Jo. Can't wait to read more.

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kittykat23uk

21st November

 

All the other participants on this trip were from Germany. This made communication slightly difficult at times, particularly when Anja and the two ladies who had elected to stay in the town. It was easier in the evenings as the remaining couples were mixed with the English-speaking boat crew and were keen to include me in conversation. it was just at times I felt I wasn't getting as much information as the other guests and this left me feeling a bit frustrated and isolated at times. 

 

The weather had not improved overnight so unfortunately we were stuck in the harbour for another day. We took the opportunity to try out our drysuits and took a little walk around the local village. 

 

For lunch Australian cook and boat hand, Ty cooked up some delicious waffles and a local delicacy- brown cheese. This cheese is actually more like caramel cheesecake. it goes very well with fresh waffles and sour cream. 

 

51708908885_4c7908d7b6_h.jpgIMG_20211121_133858 delicious waffle with brown cheese and sour cream by Jo Dale, on Flickr  

 

It was grey and snowing on and off so no chance of seeing the Northern lights and aside from a few gulls, there wasn't any wildife around.

 

51708908345_35e83bac7d_h.jpgIMG_20211121_121247  Scenic Norway by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51707238592_985c77f0e7_h.jpgIMG_20211121_114509  Scenic Norway by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

For dinner we had Rudolph stew with mushrooms- I normally hate mushrooms but the way they had been cooked in with the venison actually made them rather tasty!

 

51708031071_1555502fe0_h.jpgIMG_20211121_180606 Rudolph stew by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

After dinner the crew treated us all to a lovely, bubbly hot tub on deck and special hot chocolate (hot chocolate with the local Mintuu spirit) to warm us up. 

 

51719235111_9333639e69_h.jpgIMG-20211121-WA0002 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51707238967_5cccb4ed04_h.jpgIMG_20211121_121312 enjoying the scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

We were promised an improving forecast for the coming days, although Monday still looked a bit iffy..

 

 

 

 

Edited by kittykat23uk
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Sounds like an exciting trip!

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kittykat23uk

@TonyQit certainly had the potential to be exciting, although I had too much excitement on the flight on the way there to be honest! 

 

@janzinthe ferris wheel didn't seem open when we were walking around. Interestingly there was a tourist shop that offered day trip whale / orca watching but the impression we got was they would have to travel quite a bit further north to get to the current feeding grounds. Another thing that spurred me to do the trip this year is that there is a concern that the orcas are getting fewer and fewer in the inner fjords and there is a theory that in a few years they may remain offshore where the boats would be hard pressed to follow. This is due to the changing stocks of herring in the area. 

 

@Tom Kellie, @WildshipThank you, yes the dream felt very real at the time. I also more recently had a dream about sky diving with Boris Johnson, I don't think I will look to realise that particular one though! :lol:

 

@mtanenbaum, @kilopascalthanks for joining me on the journey.

 

 

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kittykat23uk

22nd November 

 

After losing two days to weather and travel disruption, we were pleased that we were actually able to head out of the harbour and into the fjords. The sea was starting to calm, but the skies looked leaden. Nevertheless we remained optimistic, and all got ready in our drysuits in the hope that we might be able to get in the water on the offchance that the conditions improved. In hindsight we would all have been much more comfortable had we plumbed for the exposure suits, and wooly hats and gloves. whilst the drysuits kept my core fairly comfortable, I found my hood and gloves quickly chilled my hands and head. 

 

It wasn't long before we did see our first pod of orcas around the boat... but the conditiond rapidly deteriorated into a full on blizzard! They were around for about ten minutes and for those ten minutes it was awesome to be in their presence, but we couldnt get in with them in these conditions, there would not be enough light to see anything. We then lost them and didn't find them again, despite the weather improving into the afternoon, which was pretty disappointing. Bearing in mind that the days are really short here, sunrise is at 1050, sunset around 12, with a couple of hours either side where its still light enough to see.

51713069312_34b4f28ab8_h.jpgPB220069 Orcas in snowstorm by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51714114618_8a09ce728f_h.jpgPB220084 Orcas in snowstorm by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

We also got our first experience of just how many boats are offering these kind of trips. There were many operators in the area but, owing to the sensitive nature of the encounters with the orcas,  there is no cooperation. So don't expect the boat captains to communicate where the sightings are. The crew can get a sense of where activity might be based on the GPS positioning and speed of the other boats which they all have visuals of. On that occasion, the impression was that evryone was dispersed, searching for the whales and not having much luck. There was one boat that we kept hearing a call sign for that sounded like "banana" in Minion-speak but which we finally deciphered as "Valhalla" which seemed to have better luck than most of us over the week, they are a shore based operation with a couple of fast zodiacs at their disposal.

 

I had thought that being based on the Duen would offer more flexibility than being based on shore in case the orca moved significant distances but it didn't seem to offer an advantage over the shore based operators as we always returned to the same harbour and we had guests staying in the town along with one of the guides. The exception was our last day, when we returned to Sorkjosen to be closer to the airport, rather than Skerjvoy.

 

51714520239_3cc60aa670_h.jpgPB220094 Snowstorm by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

The scenery was spectacular though:

 

51713068517_9dcaa09e00_h.jpgPB220122  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51714120473_aa68ce52d9_h.jpgPB220129  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51714727940_3eec078dd0_h.jpgPB220152  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

 

51714727770_52c7de8f5d_h.jpgPB220175  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51713857421_4bc79eae83_h.jpgPB220253  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

 

51714119633_6b9b6afbdb_h.jpgPB220258  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51713856971_5707537926_h.jpgPB220302  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51714726685_c6c5d7f793_h.jpgPB220342  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

 51720109115_b6980048c2_h.jpgIMG-20211124-WA0018 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

 

Edited by kittykat23uk
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Atravelynn
4 hours ago, kittykat23uk said:

ferris wheel didn't seem open when we were walking around

darn, I was going to ask how it was.  Horrendous start that could have actually been dangerous on the landing.  Glad to see you made it out onto the water.  Looking forward to the high seas with you!

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Kitsafari

what an eventful and frustrating start to the trip! and a relief to see those tips - at least you know they are around... somewhere.

 

but spectacular sceneries indeed! 

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kittykat23uk

23rd November 

 

Today we were searching all morning looking for orcas in conditions that we could attempt to snorkel with but no sign of anything. Towards the end we headed towards where we'd heard some whales were seen and we finally got some fairly distant views of humpbacks and orcas but unfortunately in less sheltered waters so snorkeling was not really possible. I didn't get many good shots but here are a few of the best. We keep hoping that the next day will be the one..

 

51714726155_8b45aafe77_h.jpgPB230032  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51713856011_195abd3de2_h.jpgPB230034  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51714517144_a25de26b78_h.jpgPB230042  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51708301548_e575c52f48_h.jpgPB230063 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51714721405_72e118ce16_h.jpgPB230102 (3) Humpback Whales by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51713061912_1f3ade4d35_h.jpgPB230133 Humpback Whales by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51714511994_4472c5861f_h.jpgPB230258_01 Orca (Killer Whale) by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51713060827_f1822953dd_h.jpgPB230267_01 Orca (Killer Whale) by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51714117328_4d3399bbc2_h.jpgPB230280 Orca (Killer Whale) by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51714515859_f5b1ab65b3_h.jpgPB230315 Orca (Killer Whale) by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51713060432_ae9f12cc95_h.jpgPB230396_01  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51708031466_b384a8a8ac_h.jpgPB230397 Orcas by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

Back on board we had some nice snacks, including these odd amputee gingerbreadmen.. On one night we were treated to a fresh halibut slew which was delicions, if a little bony..

 

51708909210_4de636537f_h.jpgIMG_20211123_132705 What is wrong with the Norwegians? by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

 

Edited by kittykat23uk
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kilopascal

Holding my breath and hoping you are successful

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Very interesting report Jo.  I had no idea you could even go to Norway to see Orcas.  We were there 15 years ago in the summer time for a Bergen to Kirkenes cruise on the Hurtigruten.  Of course, it was summer time and the weather was VERY different since most of the fjords were like glass.  We even visited Tromso which is where some of my ancestors came from.  But, I digress...LOL

 

It's nice to see Norway in winter.  I am looking forward to reading more.

 

Alan

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kittykat23uk

@AtdahlI think Norway is probably the only place where you are legally allowed to snorkel with orcas as a tourist. Although how long that will be allowed/able to continue I don't know. In fact it has got quite bad recently with a lot of unregulated operators of whale watching and snorkeling outfits that there was a big meeting when we were there because they was some mumbings that it might be stopped althogether. I don't think anything was decided in that respect. 

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kittykat23uk

24th November

 

We started the day with beautiful clear skies,  flat seas and were really hoping our luck was changing for the better. Yesterday we'd seen quite a lot of orcas, today would we actually get to snorkel with them? Hopes were high, but desperation was starting to set in, we only had today and tomorrow left! 

 

51838592864_1db83a59f9_h.jpgIMG-20211124-WA0012 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51714515364_265d172cac_h.jpgPB240273  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51714111983_b8821aa18b_h.jpgPB240301_01  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51713853561_91cb8ddc63_h.jpgPB240308  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51714115793_664d2a93b4_h.jpgPB240315  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51713063482_80befcfddc_h.jpgPB240332  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51714514379_f3b435c71a_h.jpgPB240339  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51713852711_29ed5089c6_h.jpgPB240342  Norway Scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51713852526_23648dc9f3_h.jpgPB240367 Beautiful scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51714719020_bececec5f4_h.jpgPB240411 (2) Beautiful scenery by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

Things started slowly though as we only reached our first group of whales at 10.50. But these were humpbacks, and although we had some nice views of them close to the rib, we were not encouraged to get into the water with them, I think this was due to the speed at which they were travelling..

 

51838975045_291d37a180_h.jpgIMG-20211206-WA0019 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51838237766_45bd62458a_h.jpgIMG-20211206-WA0018 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51837286082_e1bb3983a9_h.jpgIMG-20211124-WA0002 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

We then spotted a research boat that was out tagging orcas, we follwed for most of the day, hoping to catch up with the orcas.

 

 

51837285642_4aac128f6b_h.jpgIMG-20211206-WA0086 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51838592464_89eb33ece7_h.jpgIMG-20211206-WA0071 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51837285687_4b0ef33342_h.jpgIMG-20211206-WA0083 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51837285632_7f78c0567b_h.jpgIMG-20211206-WA0084 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51837285817_c13483624a_h.jpgIMG-20211206-WA0039 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51837285997_7bc8875c6b_h.jpgIMG-20211206-WA0002 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

They were constantly on the move, keeping ahead of us for the majority of the next hour. Around midday the pod seemed to be moving at a more relaxed pace and our guide, Sven felt it was worth trying to get in the water with them. Well suffice to say this did not really go so well. On his instruction we got mask, fins and snorkels ready, at which point I found that the fins I had been given had been swapped with another of the guest and were too small! I managed to get them on with some help and then on command we all dived over the sides of the rib into the fjord. 

 

51838349813_453365274e_h.jpgIMG-20211124-WA0019 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

 

It was surprisingly comforatble in comparison the the ambient air temperature, the cold barely registering as I struggled to get my bearings. "Look under water, look underwater" Sven called from the boat, as our group, now spread out all peered into the blue in the hopes of glimpsing something, anything! But we were quickly called back to the rib, the orcas were not in a curious mood and were rapidly moving on.  It was only when I got back in the rib that I realised both my fins were missing as my boots had slipped off my feet! We tried in vain to find them, but they were lost to the drink.

 

Once everyone was back on board we tried to follow the orcas, watching them from a distance as long as we could but never actually getting the opportunity to get close enough to try again. But at least I had stayed dry - unlike one lady who unfortunately discovered her drysuit had a leak! 

 

51837285737_c4ca4eab44_b.jpg

IMG-20211206-WA0060 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51837285692_8994315f58_h.jpgIMG-20211206-WA0067 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

Back at the harbour later on we all decided to take a walk around the village as we tried not to feel too dejected that we still hadn't been able to snorkel with the orcas yet. Well tomorrow was our last chance, would it deliver? Time would tell...

 

51838349908_e9c7a71faf_h.jpgIMG-20211122-WA0007 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51708032641_ab26d22e98_h.jpgIMG_20211124_171740_1  Local scenes by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51708910780_e123d530ee_h.jpgIMG_20211124_171807  Local scenes by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51708302543_67fd005036_h.jpgIMG_20211124_171908  Local scenes by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51708302618_7c29a4df1b_h.jpgIMG_20211124_172049  Local scenes by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51708910935_99d1ea1379_h.jpgIMG_20211124_172707 Local scenes by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

Our guide Sven aslo gave us some very informative talks about orcas during the avernoon down time.

 

51838237986_bcaff0387b_h.jpgIMG-20211122-WA0010 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

 

Edited by kittykat23uk
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The_Norwegian

Nice trip! I had this on my wishlist for many years now, it`s just plain lazyness that i haven`t done it yet, I mean, it`s a 2 hours flight away :-)  what airline did you use from Oslo, Gardermoen, SAS? Sounds like they messed up a bit with their crew. It`s true that pilots must pass special training to be able to fly to Tromsø, it`s quite challenging and unpredictable in wintertime. Hungarian airline wizzair who tried to establish themselves and fly domestic here in Norway, actually had to fly back to Oslo many times when flying to tromsø because of lack of experience in those kinds of conditions. Did you get to see the northern lighst while up north also? If you plan more trips here and need tips or help with anything, just let me now :-) 

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ForWildlife

Hope you get to see them under water on your last day!

I think it won't be too long before it gets regulated or banned altogether, by the sounds there are many operators these days, and the orcas might get affected by it. Time will tell.

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Atravelynn

Snorkel with orcas--it almost rhymes.  At least you got to see them!  Sorry about the lost boot.  Beautiful scenery and towns.

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kittykat23uk

25th November - our last day! 

 

Well our last day had arrived! We all got suited up as soon as we could. Whilst we were doing so apparently there were humpbacks putting on a good show, but I didn't see them close up as by the time I emerged on deck we were already steaming ahead to try and find some orcas. I was a little sad that we didn't stick around to see the humpbacks, partly thinking at this stage that seeing any whales, whether in the water or not, was a bonus. But it was probably the right call and I have been priviledged to see humpback whales well in Mozambique, so I tried not to let the disappointment get me down too much. We were here to snorkel after all, not simply whale watch. 

 

51838237681_cf5d7a4e18_h.jpgIMG-20211206-WA0030 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51710375907_fa3bfb0fe6_h.jpgreceived_1049700785813551 Orcas by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51711833624_3bbd9e390a_h.jpgreceived_2952267905025757 Orcas by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51719188387_b313f578dc_h.jpgDuen & orca by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51720249018_2dbc5b5633_h.jpgDuen and orcas by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

Well we soon found ourselves a nice pod of orcas, and got into the rib to get closer. We were treated to spyhops, lovely groups of mothers, calves and some big bulls. they were moving quite a bit, so we spent some time following in the hope that they would become curious. The great thing was that we were all alone, not surrounded by other boats for once and so we had these orcas to ourselves. They stuck close to the edge of a fjord until they spied another pod and then moved to intercept them. 

 

51838974860_81dd4dbbc5_h.jpgIMG-20211206-WA0092 Orca mum spyhopping and calf by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

 

Once the two pods converged, the orcas slowed and started to relax around the boat. At this point Sven told us all to get ready. We were to go in without fins this time, Sven reckoning that this would give us a better chance of not disturbing us. As the orcas moved in, Sven shouted to "Go! Go! Go!", and we all tumbled into the frigid sea. I desperately looked around me under the water but failed to spy anything. With the orcas moving on we returned to the boat, a few of the others, who'd entered on the other side of the rib had seen the orcas briefly underwater, and I was gutted that I had been unlucky. 

 

After following them a while longer, it became apparent that the Ayla's drysuit had leaked again. As she'd been lucky to see the orcas she opted to get warm and dry on the Duen. We therefore returned to the boat to let her off. Another of the girls, Anne also got on board the Duen, I was hoping to change my gopro battery but didn't want to risk missing out or delaying the others and we didn't seem to be sticking around, so I forwent the opportunity to refesh my battery. We headed off to try and pick up the orcas again. 

 

We came across a pod which Sven initially thought was part of the pod that we'd been following, but after some observation he deduced that these were not the herring eaters that we were looking for, they were in fact salmon specialists. Given their behaviour of travelling, Sven took the decision that we should try and find our herring eating pod. At this point we got a call from the Duen to say that Anne wanted to rejoin us, having refreshed her own go pro battery! So we headed back. I was pretty miffed that I hadn't taken the chance to get my spare battery too, as I had bought a go pro especially for this trip! But anyway, hindsight is a wonderful thing and so I thought as long as someone has a gopro I can always copy the footage if we get any. 

 

Still being the only boat in the area, we eventually caught up with our orca pod and as luck would have it they seemed to be in an accommodating mood. So when Sven told us to get ready and then gave the command to "Go, Go, Go!" I was straight over the side ready this time to get the experience that I had so far only dreamed of. I was not disappointed this time as half a dozen massive orcas dived in unison, giving us the sideways glance as they disppeared into the deep ocean fjord. Their clicks and whistles clearly audibly it was truly a magnificient sight that I feel privilidged to have witnessed. :D

 

51720248423_28480dffa1_h.jpgorcas5 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51720655364_0118c6c483_h.jpgorcas4 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51837285817_764f1f5f21_h.jpgIMG-20211206-WA0039 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

When they moved off, we returned to the boat cheering and elated that we had finally had the experience we'd all been hoping for. But the experience wasn't over! We caught up with them again. Sven always carefully assessing the right time to put us in the water for best effect. On one jump we were treated to a mother and calf rubbing themselves against each other below us. One a few other jumps, we experience individuals swimming past. But one of the most memorable encounters was when a pod of six orcas swam straight towards me head on, before turning and diving down out of site. That was just magical! :D

 

51707240982_8d59a2a6a2_h.jpgSnorkelling with Orcas! by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51707241037_2060d107f7_h.jpgSnorkelling with Orcas! by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

 

 

We'd had literally seconds each time we jumped in where the orcas were visible underwater, but it was a totally different experience to seeing them from the boat, being fully immersed in their environment I was in awe of these powerful animals. We were lucky to have as much time with them to ourselves as daylight allowed, but with the days being so short it wasn't long before we had to sadly say goodbye to our orcas. We reluctantly returned to the Duen and began our journey back to Sorkjosen harbour. Still watching some distant orcas following another dive boat across the fjord. 

 

51714110953_724e4c7c4a_h.jpgPB250055_02 Orca (Killer Whale) by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

Once we'd moored up and celebrated our last and only really successful day of snorkelling with a well-earned Minttu hot choc we had a tasty final meal. Everyone was in high spirits finally and as the boat crew busied themselves on deck we chatted and downloaded footage and photos. Then our captain, Dave, called to us to say that the Northern Lights had put in an appearance. So we all rushed out on deck. I must confess I was somewhat underwhelmed by the lights, being that they were barely visible as almost like a whisp of barely green cloud. Nevertheless I gave night mode a try on my camera and managed to capture a much stronger effect that was visible to the naked eye. Ah well, maybe I will see the lights better some other time!

 

51837285757_23eff85bc5_h.jpgIMG-20211206-WA0057 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51838592554_6cc06a9b6f_h.jpgIMG-20211206-WA0041 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51708302848_d4eb2e2475_h.jpgIMG_20211125_215249  Very faint Northern Lights by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51708705469_9358334987_h.jpgIMG_20211125_215731  Very faint Northern Lights by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

51837285942_e3cac0acd2_h.jpgIMG-20211206-WA0011 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

 

Some of us left the following morning at the crack of dawn. Thankfully my flights home was far more uneventful than my flights there had been.  I've put together a video of the highlights of the trip, some of the footage was taken by participants dunking their cameras over the side, whilst some is taken from  when we were actually in the water, I've also slowed some of this footage down. 

 

 

 

51838238076_55b0546108_h.jpgIMG-20211122-WA0001 by Jo Dale, on Flickr

Fin! 

 

 

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kittykat23uk
On 1/23/2022 at 6:09 PM, The_Norwegian said:

Nice trip! I had this on my wishlist for many years now, it`s just plain lazyness that i haven`t done it yet, I mean, it`s a 2 hours flight away :-)  what airline did you use from Oslo, Gardermoen, SAS? Sounds like they messed up a bit with their crew. It`s true that pilots must pass special training to be able to fly to Tromsø, it`s quite challenging and unpredictable in wintertime. Hungarian airline wizzair who tried to establish themselves and fly domestic here in Norway, actually had to fly back to Oslo many times when flying to tromsø because of lack of experience in those kinds of conditions. Did you get to see the northern lighst while up north also? If you plan more trips here and need tips or help with anything, just let me now :-) 

 

Hi yes it was SAS. Thankfully I got some money back from both them and widderoe. That will probably fund my Svalbard tickets now that I need to rebook them. Thank you for the kind offer. I will be back in Norway this year with any luck for Svalbard. If you have any tips for the area around Longyearbyen, Im thinking of getting in a couple of days early to do some local birding and hopefully see an arctic fox. 

 

All the best

 

Jo 

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kittykat23uk
On 1/25/2022 at 8:05 PM, ForWildlife said:

Hope you get to see them under water on your last day!

I think it won't be too long before it gets regulated or banned altogether, by the sounds there are many operators these days, and the orcas might get affected by it. Time will tell.

Thank you! You could well be right but whether the industry becomes more regulated or the orcas shift their mighration first, who knows! Im glad I did this trip and that it worked out well on our final day, but I don't think I will do it again. There are a lot of factors involved for everything to come together, and for the cost vs time in the water- it's quite an expensive proposition. But still, it was an awesome experience! :D

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kittykat23uk
On 1/26/2022 at 3:56 AM, Atravelynn said:

Snorkel with orcas--it almost rhymes.  At least you got to see them!  Sorry about the lost boot.  Beautiful scenery and towns.

 

Thanks! Luckily the boots were part of the kit lent to me by the tour company and they were kind enough to write them off. :D

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