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Meet the king of the forest in its kingdom!
It's four in the morning in Northern Norway.
We're out on the road before the village awakens.
“Some days we find two moose and other days up to 50 of them. It's about luck and how many people are out.”
Marius Birkeland, guide and wildlife photographer at Vesterålen Tours
And it doesn't take long for something to wake me up from my morning coma ...
... good morning! Spotting three moose before coffee - that's not an everyday event!
More and more moose appear throughout the morning, as we drive around Andøya island in Vesterålen in Northern Norway.
Can you spot the moose?
“They are large animals, but they're insanely good at hiding.”
Jens Birkeland, guide and wildlife photographer at Vesterålen Tours
The fun thing about moose is that you never know when or where they will show up!
A coffee on the go?
Increase your chances of experiencing moose in the wild with a guided moose safari, and get expert tips on how to take great wildlife photos!
Have you ever been to "moose country"? The moose is one of Norway's most famous inhabitants and is found in most parts of the country.
Witnessing these large, majestic animals with their prominent horns up close is an unforgettable experience. On a moose safari, local guides help you navigate the vast forests and increase your chances of seeing moose in their natural habitat.
“We run daily safari trips, and spot every 'rock' that shouldn't be there.”
Important note: As with all wild animals, we must respect the moose and always keep a safe distance. Remember that moose are faster than humans and can cause harm if frightened, surprised, or defending their young.
Norway takes its environmental responsibilities seriously and wants to make sure that everyone follows some common rules to protect animals and the environment when venturing into the great outdoors!
Moose populations are increasing in Norway, and over the years they have found their favourite hang-out spots. One such spot is Vesterålen in Northern Norway, where there have been many moose for many years.
Jens and Marius Birkeland work for Vesterålen Tours, running almost daily moose safari trips at Andøya in Vesterålen, and throughout the island district. After many magical meetings with the king of the forest, they have even chosen to give Andøya a new nickname.
"We have nicknamed Andøya Fairytale Island," they say.
And it does look like a fairytale world when we head out in the safari vehicle in search of moose, with steep mountains and lush forests on one side and the open sea on the other.
“I don't think there are many places in the world where you can get in a car and find them right away.”
Many moose safaris in Norway are by car, and the open landscapes at Andøya are well suited for a road trip – and perfect for spotting moose.
The thing about moose is that they can show up anywhere! Something that can lead to both dangerous situations and harmless funny moments!
"They can be in people's gardens or out in the wilderness. At night, they may wander into the middle of cities or you can find them by the sea, swimming!" explains Jens.
But moose also wander across motorways. The main danger is then that they will suddenly run into the road in front of you, giving you little to no time to react. It is therefore very important to drive carefully in areas with lots of moose.
Do you both love wild animals and are fascinated by the northern lights? How does a night-time moose safari under the dancing auroras sound?
Norway is among the world's most beautiful and interesting places to see the northern lights, and Vesterålen happens to be just beneath the aurora oval where the activity is high.
"It's incredibly unique. You get the snow, you get moose, you get mighty mountains and the northern lights all combined," says Marius.
A moose is a majestic sight in itself, but to see it under the northern lights or midnight sun is magical!
Each season is interesting in its own way.
According to Jens and Marius, the best time to go on a moose safari is in August, September and October, when it is rutting season. Then, you get to experience the biggest bulls with fully grown antlers, surrounded by all of the beautiful colours of autumn.
"Then you have the summer season, which is perhaps our personal favourite, because that's when the calves are born," says Marius.
You must always maintain a safe distance from the moose, but be extra careful when it's calving season. Don't get between the cow and the calf, as the cow can become very protective and aggressive.
Vesterålen is not the only place you can meet the Norwegian moose. Whether you want to go by car, e-bike, or on foot, or scout from a photo hide, you'll find providers that offer moose safaris all over Norway.
Keep in mind that moose are wild and therefore timid animals, which means it's impossible to predict how the safari will go, as every day is different.
If you see a moose, you will likely be able to capture the moment forever if you have a camera handy. Remember to never approach the animal. If you are driving, stay close to the vehicle when taking pictures. You can still get amazing photos! Here are five tips on how to improve your wildlife photography:
The moose is a yoke-toed species in the deer family and the world’s largest deer game. It is Norway’s largest land mammal and differs from other deer species in size and appearance. The largest males can weigh up to 800 kilos.
Moose are really made for winter. Even on days with temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius, they only react with light goosebumps.
In warmer weather, however, the temperature only needs to rise slightly above freezing for the moose to start panting.
The moose is also a great swimmer, as the locals on the remote island of Træna experienced in 2005. At a distance of 40 kilometres from the mainland, a moose suddenly climbed onto dry land one day in July. The sight was so unusual on the island that they raised a statue of the moose, which they named Tare.
• Layer up – dressing in layers when exploring the outdoors is a great idea year-round and even more important in winter.
• Know the animal – wildlife photography is all about capturing fleeting moments. It pays to be able to predict your subject’s behaviour beforehand.
• Wind direction – moose typically lie with the wind at their back with their heads facing the wind.
• Have your camera ready – and use a zoom lens for the best images! Do not approach this big and potentially dangerous animal.
• A waiting game – don't give up, the best photos take time!
The Vesterålen area is home to plenty of fascinating wildlife! You can go on guided excursions to look for eagle, reindeer, fox, otters and owls, to name a few.
This is also the kingdom of the whales in Norway. Sperm whales, which can be as long as 20 metres, can be spotted along the Vesterålen coast all year round, making it the place in Norway with the greatest chance of seeing whales!
In the summer, Bleiksøya island outside Andøya becomes a bustling bird sanctuary, as it is home to one of the largest puffin colonies in Norway!
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