Varanger is about the long lines in the landscape as well as the long lines of history. Varanger not only offers a physical experience; you will also find serenity on this road. It is difficult to explain other than by saying that this is a place where you feel as if time stands a bit still. You drive past birch woods, marshland and a rugged cliff landscape.
The light is special and the bird and animal life are unique. Species of birds that you can’t see anywhere else in the world are relatively easily accessible. It’s not only because of its geographical location that Varanger is perhaps the most exotic stretch. A trip along the route leading to the Arctic Ocean will reveal natural surroundings full of contrasts, and the lunar landscape out towards Hamningberg in many ways feels like this is a journey to the world’s end. If you drive along this road in the autumn perhaps you will experience the steely grey light, and the barren landscape will emerge as even more magical.
History is not always pretty and at the Steilneset memorial we encounter episodes of history that may be difficult to comprehend. The witch trials in Finnmark in the 17th century claimed 91 victims and it was here that the greatest number of people were found guilty of witchcraft and burnt at the stake. Its closeness to Russia, immigration from Finland and Sámi traditions pervade this area with an exciting cultural diversity.
Even if you’re not a bird-watching enthusiast, you should take time to observe some of the rare bird species here. Along this stretch of road, several bird-watching hides have been built where you can sit well sheltered against the vagaries of the weather while you marvel at the landscape. There’s also a good chance of experiencing reindeer at close hand on this road. After visiting the Steilneset memorial you should drop by the picturesque Vardøhus Fortress that lies at the easternmost point of Norway.
To cycle this route you should start at Varangerbotn. The cycle ride along the Varanger fiord is relatively easy, but long. It is worth taking a detour to Vardø and stop at Steilneset Memorial even though this involves going through a subsea tunnel. Towards Hamningberg the route runs through a hilly but spectacular landscape with distinctive geological features. A night in the abandoned fishing village is a nice experience before you cycle the 160 kilometres back.
Nature in Varanger is rugged and desolate, with unique landscape formations that provide a powerful backdrop for the hiking experience. Large areas consist of terrain that is easy to walk, but you should remember that the climate here is partly Arctic and the weather can change rapidly. Standing on top of Aldontoppen or walking along Kjærlighetsstien - Lovers’ Trail - in Vadsø, you will really get a feel for the enormous forces of the sea.
A hike in to Nattfjelldalen will give you a taste of Varangerhalvøya National Park. After a good 9 km, the walk ends up at a spectacular waterfall at the inner end of the valley side. Highest up in the valley of Nattfjelldalen, on a clear day you can see all across Varangerfjorden to the Rybachy Peninsula in Russia. For bird enthusiasts we recommend the islands of Ekkerøya and Hornøya with their rich birdlife, or the bird trail in Komagdalen, which is located within Varangerhalvøya National Park,
At the westernmost point on this route is the old abandoned fishing village of Hamningberg. From here the trail continues to the mountain Hardbaken. On your way you may happen to come across a herd of reindeer. A few kilometres from Hamningberg is Syltevika, a bay that opens up into Austhavet (“East Sea”) and the Barents Sea. At Indre Syltevik you can stay overnight in the historic DNT cabin or pitch your tent. Along the seashore you will see driftwood logs from Siberian rivers that have ended up here after travelling for many years with drift ice and the Gulf Stream.
Welcome to Varanger Arctic Norway
In the far north and as far east as you can go in Norway, where the sky meets the sea, lies Varanger, bathed in the midnight sun and the northern lights of winter. Here the wild landscape meanders through bird-nesting cliffs, fishing villages, and rugged headlands – out to the end of the world.
Nature offers rivers teeming with fish, snow-clad plains, exotic king crabs, birds breeding in spring, leaping salmon, the shining sea, and dancing northern lights. People and traditions make Varanger an Arctic melting pot of communities and cultures. Varanger is a different experience. Scenery and settlements, the light, the colours, the lofty sky and wide horizon, exciting activities and the open people.
Read and learn more about Varanger Arctic Norway here: www.visitvaranger.no or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org