Everything was packed and we were ready to head out for our adventure in the deeply frozen part of the nordic countries. Time was around spring equinox, which meant that day and night was the same length but the winter was still at its strongest – a perfect time to experience the beautiful but harsh nature north of the arctic circle.
Despite the freezing temperatures up north it was ment to be an classic overland journey, so the rooftents was mounted, both the little Eezi Awn on the Land Rover and the big tent on the trailer. The same was the auxiliary Hella-lights, that we actually got for this tour, but previously by accident brought me deep into the jungle of Belize. (Read more about that story in “Backtracking Belize”)
The snow chains Thule and König provided us was tested thoroughly in the driveway – which gave us a lot of funny comments from the neighbors, since we had no snow at all. And finally 3 pairs of cross-country skies found their place on the roof rack and inside the car we stacked up piles of warm blankets. We were set to go to the North Cape.
North Cape is a cape on the northern coast of the island of Magerøya in Northern Norway. The steep cliff of North Cape is located at 71°10′21″N 25°47′04″E, about 2,102.3 km from the North Pole. It is often referred as the northernmost point of Europe. However, the neighbouring Knivskjellodden Cape, actually extends 1,450 m further north. Furthermore, both of these points are situated on an island, albeit one connected by road to the mainland. The northernmost point of mainland Europe is located at Cape Nordkinn (Kinnarodden).
The North Cape is reached by European route E69 highway through the North Cape Tunnel, an undersea tunnel connecting the island of Magerøya to the mainland.
Several Cruise ships visit North Cape every year, and nearby Honningsvåg is one of the main stops of the Hurtigruten coastal ships.
It is possible to visit North Cape during winter, but the last stretch of road is only open for convoy driving at certain times and is only accessible to vehicles and drivers that both can cope with the hard snow and wind conditions that may occur in winter.
First part of the journey, from Odense to Tromsø, I did on my own. Second part from Tromsø to Northcape and back to Alta, I had company by the rest of the family, and finally I did the last part, from Hammerfest and back home via Finland, together with a couple of friends.
I drove from Odense to Hirtshals (dk) to catch the ferry to Larvik (N). First night in the tent was just north of Oslo, before I continued up through the mountains to Lillehammer and ended right next to the Atlantic Ocean at Molde.
Atlanterhavsveien starts just outside Molde – a stretch of road that is an absolute must see! Atlanterhavsveien is an 8.3-kilometer long section of County Road 64 that runs through an archipelago in Eide and Averøy in Møre og Romsdal, Norway. It passes by Hustadvika, an unsheltered part of the Norwegian Sea, connecting the island of Averøy with the mainland and Romsdalshalvøya peninsula. It runs between the villages of Kårvåg on Averøy and Vevang in Eida. it literally jumps between several small islands and skerries, by several causeways, viaducts and bridges. Stunning piece of work!
My journey continued further north, crossing the arctic circle at Mo I Rana and to Tromsø. In Tromsø I meet the rest of the family. They chose to fly, in order not to be unreasonable to the kids. It’s probably not a kids dream holiday to drive 40 km/h on icy roads, cook in freezing cold and sleep in a tent in minus 25 degrees Celsius – but it is for sure for the rest of us!
It took me 6 days driving to Tromsø, the rest of the family did the same distance in only 6 hours by plane. But still I arrived first, and could have the first shower in 6 days, before we were reunited.
We all spend a few days together in Tromsø, with sightseeing in the charming town located 350 km north of the polar circle. Despite its lack of size Tromsø actually has an international atmosphere – and it has once been the capital of Norway, but only for a short while during WWII.
Down at the harbor there is a polar museum, which by all means is a very interesting place to spend time and of course you have to try some of the local delicacies from the local market – dried heart from reindeer ex.
Tromsø was a perfect stopover on the way further north to the cape, were we once more had to deal with bushcamping in the pretty rough environment.
The North Cape presented itself from it’s best side. Calm sunny weather. We avoided the buses with tourists from Hurtigrutens cruise ships, that arrives in the port of Honningvåg, so we only had to share the entire cliff with 2 other tourists.
On North Cape there is a hotel with a restaurant, a souvenir shop, toilets and a sacred place for Thais!!? In order to use the toilets one had to pay 235,- NKR. With that kind of prices we had no problem waiting until we got back below the tree line again.
Why the Thais have chosen North Cape for a sacred place is still a mystery to us…
After the big U-turn at 71’10”21N we drove back south to Alta. In Alta we went out on dogsleds driven by Huskys on the frozen Alta river. We were out sledging for a whole day and had our lunch in the snow sitting on reindeer skin around a fire. A truly amazing and beautiful experience.
I had to say goodbye to the family after a week of great company and a lot of adventures only to be experienced by the fewest.
Leaving your family in an airport is always a funny and wrong feeling, but so I did, and then drove to Hammerfest to spend a couple of days before picking up a pair of close friends to join me on the rest of the trip.
Hammerfest claims to be the northernmost city in the world, even though ex Honningvåg actually is located far more by north. But who counts – now we can claim to have driven our own car to both the most northerly and the most southerly cities in the world. I would say that counts for something.
The rest of our journey took us to the the Cape once more. Only this time in a severe blizzard and together with all the busses from Hurtigruten. We made the best out of it and used the crowd to cheat us in to visit the sacred place of the Thais – and not least the toilets!
Next milestone was the most eastern village in Norway, Kirkenes. Kirkenes is located close to the Russian border, and we chose to pitch the tents only a few 100 meters from that.
After that we headed home through the enormous forests of northern Finland, said hello to the very fake finish Santa Claus (everybody knows he really lives in Greenland), when we crossed the arctic circle at Rovaniemi. And finally we boarded the ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm.
And yes – we did see moose’s and reindeer. We saw the northern lights dancing in the sky. We did cross country skiing on the northernmost part of the Gulf of Bothnia and on the frozen lakes in Finland. The journey took us 7.000 km through some of the most beautiful scenery and most remote and desolated areas in the world -and it costed a fortune in expensive Norwegian diesel.
If someone asked me if it was a journey to go for, I sure would hesitate. It was a tough tour!
Question is, if I would do it again? …just say when! It was an epic journey.