Wildlife safaris in Norway will bring you eye to eye with a myriad of unique creatures in their natural habitat. Join a safari and get close to animals like whales and king crabs, or even the shaggy survivors from the last glacial epoch – the musk oxen.
As Lonely Planet puts it, Norway is the last refuge for some of Europe’s most intriguing wildlife. In the pre-internet days some tourists hoped that they would be able to see polar bears walking the streets (sorry, they can only be seen in Svalbard), but you may stumble upon moose, reindeer or white-tailed eagles during your own trips into the wilderness.
If you prefer an organized trip, you could join a wildlife safari. The safaris will bring you near creatures such as whales, the shaggy musk oxen or the king crabs near the Russian border. There are also several protected islands which are excellent destinations for bird watchers, like the Vega archipelago in Northern Norway or Runde in the west.
Whales. These giants of the ocean visit the Norwegian coast every year, showing off for tourists and locals alike. In Norway, they are most commonly found along the Vesterålen coast during the summer.
The most common whale to spot during the summer season is the sperm whale, but if you are lucky you may also see pilot whales, minke whales, humpbacks, dolphins and killer whales.
By joining a whale safari, you will also be able to enjoy a magnificent scenery, lots of fresh sea air, and natural surroundings guaranteed to make a lasting impression.
Dovrefjell National Park is the only place in Norway, and one of the few places on earth, where you can see the mighty musk oxen. In the summer, from June to September, guided summer walking safaris are organized, and guests are virtually guaranteed an encounter with these unkempt, half-ton beasts.
The musk oxen, survivors from the last glacial epoch, are not aggressive, as long as you do not get too close. Out of consideration for your personal safety and the well-being of the animals, you should maintain a distance of at least 200 metres.
The musk ox may seem big and clumsy, weighing between 225 and 400 kilos, but it moves fast with a top speed of 60 kilometres per hour.
Come face to face with the red king crab in the Barents Sea outside the coast of Finnmark. Afterwards you are offered a taste of the succulent meat.
You too can join the professional divers under water if you have a diving certificate. But most guests are content with seeing the big monster from ashore or from a boat as it is brought to the surface and put into the boiling pot. Not surprising really, as the red king crab can measure up to two metres from claw to claw and weigh up to 15 kilograms.
The meal that follows the safari is an absolute feast: Succulent pieces of crab meat together with bread, home-made dressing, and for those who desire, white wine.
Mountain areas like Dovrefjell and Rondane, the Trondheimsfjord, the islands of Vega and Runde, Lierne and Børgefjell, Pasvik and the Varangerfjord are just some of the Norwegian destinations that are world-renowned for bird watching.
In the west you will have the chance of seeing divers (gaviiformes) and grebes (podicipedformes) as well as wildfowl (anseriformes) and waders (charadriiformes).
In the mountain habitats you can find species such as dotterel (charadrius morinellus), red-necked phalarope (phalaropus lobatus), horned lark (eremophila alpestris), bluethroat (luscinia svecica), Lapland bunting (calcarius lapponicus), snow bunting (plectrophenax nivalis) and if you are lucky you might see a snowy owl (bubo scandiacus).
In Finnmark you may see true arctic species such as steller’s eider (polysticta stelleri), king eider (somateria spectabilis), brünnich’s guillemot (uria lomvia) and red-throated pipit (anthus cervinus).
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