Co-ordinates: 71º 10,268’ N, 025º 46,989’ E
Air Temperature: 13ºC
Pressure: 1005 hPa
It has been a while since I have been as excited about starting a cruise as I was today. It really feels good to be back in our element: nature and wildlife! I got up this morning and promptly got ready for a Zodiac cruise of Storstappen. This beautiful 283-meters-high island belongs to a group of three that, together with Kjerkestappen and Bukkstappen, constitute the Gjersvaerstappen Nature Reserve. (I dare you, dear reader, to pronounce that name!)
These islands are an important bird sanctuary with 400.000 breeding pairs of Atlantic Puffins, 4.500 pairs of Razorbills and 1.200 of Gannets. The reserve was established in 1983 and it is a truly wonderful place for a Zodiac cruise.
At 8 am, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, we were ready to start with operations and went out on a 1.5 hour tour with half of our guests, followed by the remainder at 10 am. The stars of the show were undoubtedly the puffins that were flying together in vast numbers resembling bee swarms. The White Tailed Sea Eagles were also a highlight, not to mention the Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Purple Sandpipers and the scenery.
The Geology (and risking the obvious assumption that I might be biased) was quite exciting. The convoluted geological folds in the layers of sandstone were a sight to behold. It was hard not to get excited about that rather obscure science, Geology, in a place like this. A good start for me in my quest to convince all our guests, that rocks can actually be sexy!
I came back on board for lunch (the quiche was particularly delicious) and shortly thereafter we were again getting ready for the second activity of the day – a visit to Nordkapp, the northernmost point of Europe.
This legendary landmark, located in the island of Mageroya, rises 308 meters from the sea. About 60 of us walked all the way there right from sea level - like in the good old days - along a very steep trail that leads from Hornvika to Nordkapp itself. It was a strenuous and rewarding hike, the views were pretty spectacular and the weather held nicely with good visibility until we all finished the trail.
Herds of Reindeer were scattered around the plateau and pretty much all of our guests had a chance to take a good look at these gracious animals. Some of the bucks had very large impressive antlers.
Once at the top, the clouds came along and those that were patient enough to wait for it to dissipate got to enjoy spectacular sunny views of the Barents Sea from as far north as you can drive in Europe.