Orca Safari - Liveaboard
Every year vast shoals of migrating herring enter the fjords of Northern Norway, attracting the largest concentration of Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) on the planet. During a few weeks the Vestfjord is home to hundreds of orcas feasting on this enormous food source.
This six-night trip is ideal if you want to get close to one of the most magnificent mammals in our oceans - and you are guaranteed the best opportunities to see them. In contrast to land-based safaris, you don't need to get back to a specific starting point each day, but can stay where the orcas are most likely to be seen the following day. Less travelling also means more time to relax and socialise with friends and other guests onboard.
The Killer Whale is the largest species in the dolphin family and is said to be the most widely distributed mammal in the world. They are present in all our seas, but diet and social structure varies between the different populations.
The size of the Killer Whales differ from one area to another, and on average the whales along the Norwegian coastline reach seven metres (males). The sex of a mature individual is easy to identify by the size and shape of the dorsal fin, as the males have a considerably larger fin reaching 1.5 metres. Female Killer Whales on average live for 40-45 years, 10 years longer than males, and typically give birth to five offspring during their reproductive period.
The resident population of Norwegian Killer Whales mainly eat herring and have developed a unique feeding habit called carousel feeding. Organised in groups, the Killer Whales force the herring towards the surface by blowing air bubbles, which for some reason the herring do not swim through. Instead the herring start to swim around in circles like a carousel, creating concentrated balls of fish, 5-10 metres in diameter.
The next step of this clever fishing technique takes place when the Killer Whales attack the fish ball and whip it with their massive tail flukes. The stunned herring are now laying motionless in the water, easy prey for the Killer Whales to take one by one.
The liveaboard - MS Langøysund
The 91 foot long MS Langøysund can accommodate up to 14 guests in seven twin cabins with bunk beds. There are two toilet/shower units onboard, and all cabins have sinks with running water. The general standard of the vessel is fairly basic, but she was built to operate in these waters and all equipment needed to run safe and efficient orca safaris are in place.
Food is always important onboard a vessel, and the chefs get a lot of positive feedback for their cooking. All the meals are served as a buffet in the saloon, which also function as the socialising area. The skipper Olav Magne Strømsholm was one of the pioneers in offering Killer Whale safaris in Norway. He and his experienced crew have hosted numerous internationally renowned photographers and TV teams since the early 1990's
Snorkeling and scuba diving
Snorkeling is the only practical way to dive with Killer Whales, as they are constantly on the move, even when they sleep. The typical way to approach them is to use a small and powerful boat (RIB) to get in front of the Killer Whales when they're heading in one direction. You then quickly glide quietly into the water waiting for the whales to approach you.
The Vestfjord and Lofoten Islands also offer great scuba diving for those qualified. During the trip there will be opportunities to dive in the evenings. The dive sites available to us will depend on where the Killer Whales have taken us during the day, but several WW2 wrecks, kelp, sandy bottom and steep walls will be on the menu.
Vikings and stunning nature
The Lofoten Islands are renowned for the magnificent scenery, mountain landscape and natural resources. For more than 6,000 years the sea has provided food for the people living here. Still today the winter fishing for cod remains crucial for the settlement in Lofoten, and high quality Stockfish (dried cod) is exported around the globe.
During the Viking Era several large chieftain seats emerged in Lofoten. At Borg on Vestvåg Island, tofts from one of these contained the largest banquet hall ever found.
From late autumn until early spring you can experience nature's own fireworks dancing across the sky. Located several hundred kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, the Lofoten Islands are a prime spot to watch the amazingly colourful Northern Lights.
Northern Lights occur when large quantities of solar particles collide with the atmospheric gases. Earth's magnetic field guides the particles known as plasma clouds towards the magnetic poles (north and south). The energy from particles colliding are emitted as photons - light particles. In order for humans to see the Northern Lights with the naked eye, about 100 million photons are required.