NORWAY: ORCAS UNDER THE AURORA
Dates: January 28th- February 6th, 2019*
Group: 10 participants
Price: $3500 USD
Join expert freediver and underwater photographer Karim Iliya and photographer Matt Reichel on a once in a lifetime expedition to the Arctic coast of Norway to observe the annual herring spawning run underwater. This natural event draws millions of herring to the Norwegian coastline, and with them come hundreds of hungry orcas and humpback whales.
*Dates may vary by 1-2 days depending on when the herrings come into the area.
Where: Lofoten Islands, Norway
Each winter, thousands of whales migrate from the warm waters of the mid-atlantic to the nutrient-rich waters of the Arctic to feed on millions of herring. Lying north of the Arctic Circle, Norway's Lofoten Islands become the winter feeding grounds of hungry orcas and humpbacks. This trip bring participants to not only witness the fabled herring run first hand, but also get into the water with the orcas and humpbacks to interact with them.
We begin our trip in Andenes, a small town in the north of the Lofoten Islands. Given that it is wintertime in the Arctic, there are no more than six hours of daylight per day. We have our own zodiac boat in order to scope out the best feeding grounds and locate the orcas and humpbacks. Both animals have different tactics for feeding-- the orcas team up in groups to chase the herring into fish balls, while the humpbacks dive below and blow bubbles to corral them.
In the evenings, we chase the aurora over the islands, as the Lofotens have become a photographer's paradise throughout. We spend two of our days on land exploring the islands, travelling south to the tiny fishing village of Å. Small Norwegian fishing communities dominate the island landscape, along with dramatic rock cliffs and expansive ocean views.
This trip is a spectacular, up-close-and-personal experience with some of the world's largest and most intelligent and agile ocean creatures. The experience is like no other.
January 31st - February 9th, 2019
Starting in: Andenes, Norway
Ending in: Andenes, Norway
Activities: 6 days on the water,
1 day land excursion, 1 rest day
Airport transfers and local transportation
3 meals per day
Private whale boat (10 people max)
Professional whale guide and expert team
Freediving and photography lessons
Dry suits, diving jackets and fins
Optional Land excursion
Snorkel and mask
Camera equipment and housings
Airfare to and from Andenes, Norway
Swim with orcas and humpbacks off the coast of Norway.
Observe the annual herring run, which attracts thousands of cetaceans to the Norwegian coastline for feeding every winter.
Watch the aurora over the fjords.
Drive around the Lofoten Islands, visiting small fishing villages and observing life in this unique part of Europe.
Watch for marine life as we travel by zodiac in dry suits and waterproof jackets.
Arrival Day - (the first day listed on your trip dates)
DAY 1 :: THURSDAY, JANUARY 31st, 2019 :: ARRIVE IN ANDENES
The group will meet in Andenes today and we will arrange airport pick ups based on your flight schedule. There are two ways of reaching Andenes-- either by flight from Tromso Airport on Wideroe Airlines, or by renting a car from a larger city. We will check into our house and have a trip briefing this evening.
Whale Swim Days (5-8 days)
DAYS 2-9 ::FEBRUARY 1st - FEBRUARY 8, 2019 :: LOFOTEN ISLANDS
Each morning after having breakfast at the house, we will set out at sunrise (since we're north of the Arctic Circle, sunrise is around 9am), gear up and head out on our expedition boat in search of orcas and humpback whales off the Norwegian coast. Millions of herring are spawning along the shoreline, and this attracts numerous orcas and humpbacks eager to feed. The orcas spin the herring into balls while the humpbacks approach from below with their mouths open. The two groups work in unison with each other to feed.
The week will be spent traveling by zodiac boat around the Norwegian coast in search of orcas and humpbacks feeding on herring. We will spend six days on the water and two days resting.* On average our days will only have about 6-7 hours of daylight, so we will spend that time on the water as effectively as possible.
When the weather is bad or seas too rough, we will trade that day for a land excursion to go explore some of the islands and fishing villages.
In the evenings, we will host photography editing and pointer lessons as well as share responsibilities in cooking our group dinners. This is a highly social trip to witness an amazing natural spectacle firsthand.
During our rest days, we will explore the local fishing villages around the Lofoten Islands and check out the northern lights dancing in the skies above.
Rest days are determined by ocean conditions, on particularly rough or low visibility days, we will opt to stay in instead of wrestle with the waves.
Departure - (the last day listed on your trip dates)
DAY 10 :: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2019 :: DEPART ANDENES
Our check-out time from the house is 11am and we will assist with airport transfers for those departing out of Andenes Airport. No scheduled activities.
Pursuing a variety of types of photography, Karim lives a nomadic lifestyle and travels the globe with a focus on photographing and filming wildlife and marine environments using free diving, underwater cameras, and quadcopter drones. Karim’s passion is in documenting threatened animals in an effort to create appreciation in order to help protect our delicate ecosystems. He has dedicated his life to the protection, preservation and documentation of marine species, specifically whales. His work has been featured in publications all over the world, including National Geographic, among others. Karim also works with the Maui Ocean Center bringing awareness to the islands of Hawaii about humpback whales.
Matt is a producer, entrepreneur, and photographer from Vancouver, and a co-founding member of Inertia Network. Before entering the world of media, he developed not-for-profit and digital marketing ventures in China, Canada and Korea. Matt then went on to work on media projects from the high Arctic in Canada, to the hockey rink in North Korea, to the waters off the coast of the Tongan Islands, documenting people, culture, wildlife, and events. He's an experienced expedition leader and location manager and has visited over 90 countries to date. Matt speaks English, Chinese, Spanish and French.