A 4 day holiday north of the Arctic Circle on a remote 12 island archipelago centred round Hinnøya an island set at the foot of a mountain and surrounded by waters that are home to fin whales, sea eagles and otters, overflown with gulls. Smack bang in the middle of the Aurora Zone where your chances of seeing the Northern Lights can be maxed out, our direct flight whisks you straight to its very middle in the fastest possible time. Once there you’ll safari by high speed RIB through a ‘Planet Wildlife’ archipelago, sail at a more sedate pace on a Hurtigruten steamer to the super stupendous Hamn I |Senja; have lunch in a 17th century Manor House and get a taste of Sami(Lapp) Culture. And of course, and perhaps above all, see (if the auguries are good) the Northern Lights. You’ll meet sailor raconteurs Johan & Oddvar of a type only Norwegians breed and Sigrid and Sigrid Rafaelsen and Kim Håvard Larsen who’ll feed you like you’ve never been fed before.
Overlooking Vågsfjord, the Thon Harstad is a modern hotel with a fairly functional exterior that's not going to win any architectural awards but inside is all whatever the Norwegian equivalent of Hygge is and close to Harstad Church and Sør-Troms Museum and 4 km from the Trondenes Fort. The casually styled, nautically themed rooms have free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, private WC/Shower and minibars; some have fjord views as does the hotel's restaurant.
fly DIRECT from London Gatwick 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle to Evenes in Northern Norway. Meet your host guide and transfer to Harstad on Hinnøya overlooking the Vagsfjord for 4 nights at the Thon Hotel. Settle in to your room and then re-join your guide for a guided orientation tour of Harstad Centrum with its high pitch gabled buildings and cobbled streets and the harbour area. Take dinner in the hotel and then leave for a Sami encampment at Aun where around an open fire in a traditional Lavvu (a sort of Lapp tepee) and to the rhythmic sound Shaman drums you keep a lookout for the Aurora dancing in the night sky. To fortify both spirits and bones you can try an Aurora cocktail in an ice glass, munch on dried reindeer chips or top up with Bidos (reindeer broth).
after breakfast, meet your guides who’ll kit you out in waterproofs and lifejackets and give you a safety briefing before embarking at high speed into the world’s most northerly inhabited archipelago (‘inhabited’ is used liberally: Bjarkoy has 455 inhabitants and 365 islands!). Skimming across the water you’re likely to spot sea eagles, wintering arctic birds like king eiders, white billed divers and purple sandpipers as well as Otters and Fin Whales. Step ashore in the Sundsvollsundet for an Arctic al Fresco lunch and along the way back get close to Seals and Moose. Rest up in the afternoon before dinner in a special surprise rooftop setting courtesy of Sigrid Rafaelsen and Kim Håvard Larsen. Sigrid and Kim’s Umami restaurant with its 5 star Trip advisor classification would be up there with Zuma was it in London and its modernistic fusion tastes is pretty much guaranteed to blow you away.
After breakfast board a Hurtigruten Steamer for a 3 hour cruise out through the Vagsforden and along the coast to Finnsnes, a small fishing village on one side of the Gisundet from Senja. Jump on a waiting bus and tour this exquisite island often dubbed Norway in Miniature because of its mix of pine forests, snow ivory topped mountains and fjords slicing into the land. You’ll stop at the vertiginous sided Ersfjord and the Tungeneset that separates it from the Steinsfjord and where there is a Larchwood walkway out over the rocks with a gob smacking view the razor-sharp Okshornan peaks. Take lunch in the pretty little village of Hamn I Senja before returning back to Harstad by high speed for dinner at your hotel.
After breakfast set off for the tour to end all tours: a visit to a gun! Originally designed for German battleships that were never built; Adolfkanones having no ships to go on were eventually used as coastal batteries with 4 of them ending up in Trondenes Fort as part of the Atlantic Wall. Having caught up with your WW2 grab a touch of Viking culture with a visit to Trondenes Kirke, a meticulously preserved medieval slate church with 3 gothic triptychs and a baroque pulpit with an hour glass timer the Pastor times his sermons with!! Continue on to Rokenes Gard for a valedictory gourmet dinner prepared from fresh local ingredients such as shrimp, king crab, venison from reindeer and a local berry dessert. The Rokenes has fed just about everybody whos’e anybody from the Norwegian King to Michael Gorbachev and Ingrid Espeli Hovig to Else Michelet (a sort of Norwegian Delia and Tim Minchin respectively). Standing in a poplar, rowan and birch garden the hotel’s interior is like a carpenter’s lifetime family repertoire: endless nooks and crannies with inlaid features, hand painted panels and doors, artisan furniture and beds, and hand me down treasures through 10 centuries of the same family. With lunch done with, head back to Harstad and then transfer to Evenes airport for your direct return flight to London Gatwick.
Return direct flights from London Gatwick to Evenes in Arctic Norway In flight cabin service with light meal & hot beverages Carriage of luggage (1pc Cabin & 1 pc Checked) All airport departure taxes and passenger service charges Private group airport/hotel return transfers 4 nights’ accommodation at the Thon Hotel Lodging in twin room(s) with private WC/shower 4 Buffet breakfasts, 2 lunches & 4 dinners as per itinerary Evening excursion ‘In Search of the Northern Lights’ & traditional Sami campfire experience Vågsfjorden cruise to Finnsnes by Hurtigruten steamer & high speed ferry Scenic round trip of Senja Island RIB Wildlife safari Historic Harstad tour Special ‘Umami’ dinner culinary experience Qualified guide for duration of stay.
Prices from £999pp Departure dates February 28th (3 nights), March 2nd (4 nights) & March 6th (3 nights).
Guide prices are in part based on our mid-level contract air fares which are veriable in real time unlike our ground supplier contract costs which are generally fixed. We don’t do fancy lead in prices and the time you confirm your booking always use the lowest air fare available. This may mean the confirmed price of your holiday being slightly less or more than the guide price in which case a proportionate reduction-supplement will apply. Carpe Diem = the earlier you book the better, especially for public & school holidays.