Nature Travels does not currently offer experiences in the Bodø/Harstad region, but further north in Norway we offer a range of possibilities for dog sledding and ski touring in Finnmark, while to the south lie our Nordic Yurt Camp in Hardanger and Sailing the Norwegian Coast experiences.
During mid March I travelled Norway as part of a familiarisation visit, in particular the Nordland region of Bodø and Harstad. Not so much of an action adventure trip but more of a cultural and historical education, visiting places of interest en route and of course being treated to wonderful Nordic hospitality and food…Oh my goodness those scrumptious waffles!
Part: 1 – Bodø
A bit about Bodø:
Bodø municipality is named after the old Bodøgård farm (Old Norse: Boðvin), since the town was built on its ground. The first element might be boði which means “sunken rock” or “skerry” and the last element is vin which means “meadow” or “pasture”. The last element may have been misunderstood as øy which means “island” (and written with the Danish language form ø).
In 1816 it was established as a township, there was a bit of British smuggling in 1818 but we delve too deeply into the “Bodø Affair”. The 1860’s saw the start of the big herring fisheries boom and in 1940 on the 27th May it was reduced to rubble in just over a couple of hours, the fate of the German Bombers in WW2.
Today Bodø has grown to a population of around 47000, with many students wishing to study in the region (over 4500), primarily with Armed Forces, health services and trade, transport, travel and tourism.
Bodø is renowned for being one of Norway’s windiest cities (everyone talks about the weather) Average mid summer daytime temperature is around 13.6˚ C and during January it averages around -2.1˚ C. You can enjoy the Midnight sun from 2 June – 10 July and the Polar nights from 15th – 29th December.
Where is Bodø?
Bodø is situated just north of the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway. A flight from Oslo to Bodø only takes one hour and 20 minutes (distance around 90km), and the airport is located 2 kilometres from the town centre. Yes you can actually walk for the airport into town if you choose.
Places of interest that we visited on our whistle stop visit.
The Saltstraumen (comes from Salten which is the district and Straum meaning “stream”) is the World’s strongest maelstrom. Situated just south of Bodø in Nordeland region of Norway, it is a powerful tidal current that occurs every 6 hours, over 400 cubic meters of water travelling at speeds of up to 20 knots, surges through a 150km wide strait for 3km between Saltenfjord and the Skjerstadfjord.
The Saltstraumen is incredibly important and rich in biodiversity both above and below the water. The tidal current creates whirlpools if up to 10m wide and 4-5 m deep, this in turn creates rich oxygenated water providing a paradise for a variety of marine creatures and cultures. Giant shoals of fish, (Cod and Pollock are common) all kinds of shells, corals and crustaceans are but a few of its riches. Orca whales a have also been sighted in the area too! The Saltstraumen has been nominated as a marine nature reserve.
Photo by Pieter Stander
Many seabirds spend the winter feeding in the area, these include the eider and white-tailed eagles and can be present in fairly large numbers.
The Saltstraumen is known worldwide for amongst the fishing fraternity and is also a keen spot for divers wishing to float along with the current and enjoy its natural beauty.
The newly opened Saltstraumen Experience Centre situated at the foot of the bridge and offers a very informative introduction movie about the phenomenon know as The Northern Lights, I would definitely recommend a visit to enjoy a waffle or two while you watch the whirlpools!
Hmmmmmm…. Lovely waffles!
The Aviation Museum:
Norsk Luftfartsmuseum is the Norwegian national museum of aviation. The museum is located in Bodø in a building shaped like a giant propeller, and covers military and civil aviation history. The museum is spread over roughly 10,000 square metres of floor space. The exhibitions at the museum are the result of a co-operation between Norsk Luftfartsmuseum, the Norwegian Air Force Museum and the AVINOR Museum. The museum was opened in 1994.
Firstly, you cannot fail to be impressed by the initial architecture that presents you as you approach the museum and the fact that there is a full size spitfire greeting you at the entrance. Once inside we were greeted by our wonderful host and guide who was a wealth of knowledge and information, what she didn’t know just wasn’t worth knowing. This is definitely a mecca for aviation buffs, it is truly remarkable the scale and variety of aircraft on displayed, one of my favourites was the story of the infamous black Lockheed U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft. Maybe the highlight was the red arrow flight simulator, Elky also joined the group for a virtual flying display in 3D – epic!
Bodøgaard – Art Gallery
Bodøgaard presents Northern Norway’s biggest private collection of art and cultural artefacts, including works by Oscar Bodøgaard (1923-2011), Ingrid and Harald Bodøgaard, and other artists from or associated with northern Scandinavia. It also has a unique icon and ethnographic collection.
Oscar, in his mid teens discovered an interest in art and in particular started collecting Russian religious art pieces and later developed into a great artist himself and is renowned for his masterful canvases depicting the aurora and hues of the midnight sun. You will find much of this amazing collection in a dedicated room within the gallery. During our visit we admired some wonderful modernistic styles and art pieces implementing various mediums, one of my favourites would have to have been the ingenious bottle tops in bubble wrap wall hangs along with the array of folded shopping bags creating remarkable colour collages – a vision of recycling. Outside revealed master thought provoking sculptures, whilst a visit to the cellar room revealed a whole different collection of memorabilia through the ages – a true Aladdin’s cave of history.
An evening at a Sami Camp:
Heading out of town we bussed to the Sami camp for evening in a ‘slightly smokey’ Lavvu (Tipi) but first we made a stop to see the Reindeer at their dwellings in the field close by. The weather was beginning to close in with a truly snowy element and an icy feel to the nose, nevertheless we tromped down the slope to the pen with our head torches shining brightly. I do wonder what the Reindeer thought of this human convey plodding towards them with lights on full beam. We were introduced to Angel’ the orphan reindeer whom the Sami sisters (our hosts for the evening) rescued! There was truly weather change at this point – there was a blizzard comin’ in.
Bryggerrkai (Brewery Pier)
A Danish menu with the most amazing fish buffet – you gotta try the herring in this neck of the woods, it would be rude not to and it is of course what this region thrived on in it’s early years! Very tasty flavours I might add – great alternative menu too.
We had the pleasure of dining at Restaurant Smak Wow!!! This is a gastronomic gem for a foodies. Five superb courses created with locally sourced ingredients where the menu changes weekly, has friendly professional service, with style and perfection on a plate. A very special place as a treat, priced to match but totally worth it… My mouth is watering just thinking about it… Scrumptious culinary delights! Thank you Espen and Eva-Linda for being such wonderful hosts – our group enjoyed a fabulous evening!
Part 2 about Harstad to follow….. In the meantime, watch out for the Bodø Troll!!!
Nature Travels Team