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Lofoten Islands - Norway

From Bodø take the 4hr ferry to the town of Moskenes and then a long walk down to the small fishing village of Å (pronounced "O" with population of 150 people). Å lies comfortably at the southern end of Moskenes Island of the Lofoten Islands, about 150km north of the Arctic Circle.

Get to Bodø via plane, or via the coastal vovage, the Hurtigruta boat, which should be a great trip. I took the plane from Bergen on the south west cost to Bodø and then the ferry to Moskenes. Once you get to Moskenes, walk the scenic winding road down to Å which takes about 30 minutes. Alternative hitch a ride which should take 10 min.

Several small fishing villages are scattered around these islands of which some have been abandoned since the 1950's. Inhabitants are mainly fishermen living off their exports of dried cod fish ("stockfish") to Italy and Portugal. Stockfish is unsalted fish dried by sun and wind on wooden racks on the foreshore called flakes, or in special drying houses.

Most land area of the Lofoten Islands are uninhabited due to the very high snow covered mountains, with literally thousands of waterfalls across the magnificent fjords cascading into the turquoise streams and rivers. Indeed, spring seasons is probably the best time to visit as the snow on the high mountains is melting in the warming sun. Glaciers abound as lots of ice on the mountains never melt.

Most people on the islands are fishermen and live in small red painted Rorbu (fisherman's cabins) at the foot of the mountains. However, during the warmer months of summer the population swells with adventure seeking tourists from around Norway and Europe. Accommodation is limited so avoid the rush and visit early in the season.

No less than 2.5 million nesting birds make Lofoten Islands a bird watcher's and photographer's paradise. These include nesting colonies of Northern Ganettes, Cormorants, Grey Herons, Atlantic Puffins, and White Tailed Eagles. In fact, these islands is a haven to tens of bird species. I spent one rainy afternoon about 3 hours just photographing the nesting American Oyster Catchers.

Hire a bicycle and cycle all over the islands. Roads are good and where it ends, take a boat. Lovely small-boat daytrips leave from the village of Reine, just north of Moskenes, around the nearby lakes which offfer spectacular views of the lakes, mountains, and tiny communities along the turcoise waters.

Go in summer, and you will see the midnight sun (or midnight fog). Go in winter, and its a very dark place - of hours on end!

Lofoten Islands is an amazing place and a true gem! You will never regret your visit.