Date: 23/11/2017

Where to see whales in northern Norway Tromso this winter

Author: Laura
Location: Norway

“You come in to the field with a plan, but ultimately you do what nature tells you.”

Ted Giffords, Cameraman, Blue Planet

This month we take our cue from the makers of Blue Planet II, the BBC’s acclaimed nature documentary filming the world’s great oceans, fjords and seas. Like all best-laid plans, nature has a way of challenging them and this winter season is no exception. The Blue Planet crew were in northern Norway this time last year filming orca and humpback whales as they performed their duet of herding and feeding on vast swarms of herring in the fjords close to the north Norwegian city of Tromso. It’s the first time that both species have been filmed together in this way. 

This year, however, is an entirely different story. The herring have moved and so too have the whales. They have returned to northern Norway but instead of gracing the fjords near to Tromso, they are further north in the fjords of the Skjervøy area which is around 2.5 hours by fast boat or catamaran. This has provided our whale watching partners in Tromso with a challenge. The season has begun and yet there are no whales within easy reach. 2.5 hours on a RIB (rapid inflatable boat) risks hyperthermia among passengers so this season it’s not possible to view the whales on the RIBs. Instead three providers have come together to bring a solution to clients looking to experience the mighty whales in their natural habitat. For those clients looking for a small boat experience, the compromise is that the faster boat is larger with the capacity to have around 100 passengers on board. We think this is better than having no chance at all and the partners that have come together happen to be the ones we’ve worked with for several years and we trust completely. 

All affected clients have been informed of the change who have responded, on the whole, with their support and understanding. They have also been given the chance to join a smaller RIB safari (without whale watching) or to receive a refund if they’re unhappy with the larger boat tour. 

Other ways to view whales this season

It’s not too late! We have some tips about how to experience the whales in northern Norway, especially if Tromso if your intended destination. If you haven’t booked your whale watching holiday already, get in touch with our team, who’ll be happy to help. 

Find the fjord and book your window seat 

Why not book your stay in the more northerly fjords which can still be accessed from Tromso. This includes the stunning Lyngen Fjord where the whales are currently feeding. We’ve received reports that orca are being sighted from the Arctic Panorama Lodge and Lyngen Lodge so you could be enjoying your breakfast with full view of whales. 

Take the slow boat 

As the crew of Blue Planet will testify, time is the ultimate tool when searching for wildlife. So one answer is to join a whale watching expedition cruise departing from the city and entering the straits around Tromso. Over a three day cruise, the captain will check many local information sources to try to locate the herring and the whales to give you a great chance to spot them. And at this time of year, you may be rewarded also with a show of the Northern Lights for an extra bonus treat.

Aim for Alta

It looks as though the city of Alta may be the new gateway for winter whale watching tours in northern Norway. Within reach of the whales' feeding ground, there a small number of boat tours which have recently started. Alta has two main hotels - the Scandic and Thon which both offer great quality accommodation and access to further adventures including dog-sledding, snow mobiling and an overnight stay in Sorrisniva Igloo ice hotel.

Get in touch with our team to start planning your whale watching holiday in Norway.

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