Accommodation, Businesses and more pictures from Nordkapp
"...here I am at the North Cape, Finnmark´s northernmost point, the very end of the world!" wrote the priest and scientist Francesco Negri in his diary in 1664. The trip he took on horseback, by skis and in fishing boats cost plenty of time and patience. But the destination - which he thought of as the most exciting place in the world - was irresistible.
Today, 300 years later, your tour surely took place much faster and more comfortable. In addition, our county with its modern infrastructure is no longer "the end of the world". But the feeling of standing on the North Cape cliff and scanning out across the Arctic Ocean´s endlessness is, as in Signor Negris´ time, unchangeably fascinating and enchanting.
Regardless of the time of year you visit - with the mystical midnight sun, a spectacular thunderstorm or the magical Northern Lights. The world´s longest sub-sea tunnel is between Magerøya and the mainland.
The name Magerøya truly reflects the island´s Spartan, exposed vegetation. Nonetheless, for most of the island´s inhabitants it is a beloved piece of earth. The North Cape municipality´s area consists of Magerøya island and the mainland around the mouth of Porsangerfjord, in all 925,0 km2 and approximately 3.300 inhabitants. In addition to the municipal centre Honningsvåg, there are 5 fishing villages: Repvåg on the mainland, as well as Nordvågen, Kamøyvær, Gjesvær and Skarsvåg on Magerøya. Grieg Seafood produce Salmon in the sea at Sarnes, on the southern side of Magerøya.
THE NORTH CAPE CLIFF
The plateau on the North Cape cliff, 307 metres above the sea, is Europe's northernmost corner, at 71°10'21" latitude and 25°47'40" longitude. The impressive and dramatic cliff has long been a navigational marker for seamen. The somewhat modest peninsula "Knivskjellodden", which reaches one and a half kilometres further north (71°11'08") is surpassed, not just in height, but also when it comes to popularity.
Approximately 3.450 inhabitants live in Honningsvåg "The city at the North Cape". The town is a centre for Finnmark county´s fishery education. There is a post office, several banks and a police station. For physical ailments, you can contact the North Cape Health Centre or a dentist. There are good restaurants, plenty of shops, several car rental firms, as well as a number of souvenir shops. The island´s only petrol station is next to the ferry quay.
At the turn-of-the-century when a new fishing fleet was established with larger and motorised boats, many of the old harbours became obsolete. As a result, in 1895, the municipal council decided to move the municipal administration from Kjelvik to Honningsvåg, partly because the harbour was better suited. This proved to be a wise decision. Honningsvåg is today Norway's next largest cruise boat harbour, with almost one hundred calls every year. The local coastal steamer Hurtigruta and other ships call daily. Honningsvåg has also played a role as the last stop before the Arctic Ocean for traffic eastward.
The North Cape Museum, which has several interesting exhibitions, is open year-round. The museum organises guided tours through the city of Honningsvåg. The same building also houses the Tourist Information Office which can help you.
On the mainland, 22 km from the ferry quay in Kåfjord and 2 km from the E 69 highway, you will find Repvåg. Today, Repvåg is a peaceful, small fishing village with approx. 40 inhabitants. Earlier, Repvåg was one of the most important harbours and trading places in Finnmark, particularly during the heyday of the Pomor trade with Russia up to 1917. Until 1977, the ferry crossed from Repvåg to Magerøya.
The previously abandoned fish factory has now been elegantly renovated and has become a charming motel that gives you an impression of a bygone era. Small boats are available for rent, and fishing trips are organised. The autumn is an excellent time for fishing and hunting trips, and the winter is an excellent time for snowmobile tours. Repvåg also has camping facilities.
Nordvågen, 6 km from Honningsvåg, is with its 500 inhabitants the largest fishing village on the island. From here, you can follow an easy, well-marked trail to the abandoned fishing village of Kjelvik. The tour takes about 2 hours round trip. During the winter, Nordvågen is the best place for winter sports on Magerøy, with a lighted slalom slope and a ski lift.
When you leave Honningsvåg 8 km in the direction of the North Cape, you arrive at Skipsfjorden, with the island's largest hotel and camping site, as well as a Sami cultural centre. The area is well suited for recreational activities with possibilities for mountain trips, boat rental, fishing and deep sea rafting. Skipsfjorden is a recreational area for the local population both summer and winter.
Kamøyvær is located 12 km from Honningsvåg, along the road to the North Cape, at the end of Kamøyfjorden. It was not until the turn-of-the-century that people settled here, and today about 150 people live in the fishing village. Kamøyvær was the focus for a modest "migration" about 90 years ago. Fishing families moved here from the weather-exposed coasts along the Arctic Ocean, sea Sami settled down here and from the east came immigrants from the Finnish forests.
Three different cultures met and three different languages could be heard on the quays of Kamøyvær. In time, the Norwegian language came to dominate, and today ethnic differences have almost disappeared. You will find a number of private rooms for rent and two charming guesthouses. Interested in a good portion of fresh fish? then you should definitely visit one of the restaurants on the square. In nice weather, take a boat excursion to the bird rock at "Store Kamøya" outside of the fishing village - your hosts will gladly organise such a trip.
In beautiful surroundings 34 km north-west of Honningsvåg, you will find the fishing village of Gjesvær, with approximately 220 inhabitants. It was not until 1976 that a road connected the village with the rest of the island. Up until then, you had to take local boats to get to and from the site. Already in the Viking Age, Gjesvær was known as a trading post and fish station and was presumably the first site at Magerøy which had a permanent settlement. Gjesvær is mentioned in the Sagas (Heimskringla) as a northern harbor in the viking age, especially used by vikings on the way to Bjarmaland and probably also for gathering food in the nearby seabird colony.
From the early Middle Ages and up to the last century, the village was one of the largest and richest fishing villages in Finnmark. From here, you have a magnificent view to "The mother with her daughters" - Gjesværstappan - an island group with one of Northern Norway's largest bird rocks. In the summer season, daily bird safaris are organised - don't miss it. It is also possible to spend the night and get something to eat in Gjesvær.
Skarsvåg with its approximately 170 inhabitants is not just the northernmost town on Magerøya, but also "The world´s northernmost fishing village"! From here, it is 14 km to the North Cape. Three camping sites with all modern facilities and a tourist hotel are in place to ensure you a pleasant stay. In addition, you will also find a number of private persons renting rooms. After a half-hour walk along a marked path, you will arrive at the fascinating mountain formation "Kirkeporten".
From here, you have a unique view toward the North Cape, which is thought to be a pre-Christian Sami sacrificial site. But don´t forget to take a trip and experience a Northern Norwegian fishing village from "the inside". In the winter, there are snowmobile tours to the North Cape plateau from Skarsvåg.
On the last stage toward the North Cape, you pass by one of the Sami campsites belonging to one of the Sami families who bring their reindeer to Magerøya in the summer to graze.
WEATER, WIND and WINTER STORMS
The weather is a popular discussion topic in Finnmark - this is surely because we have so much of it! And in just a few hours the weather can change completely from peaceful sunshine to a violent snow storm.
Thanks to the Gulf Stream, the temperature along the coast is approx. 20°C higher than in other areas at this latitude (71°), and annually about 800 mm of precipitation falls, mostly in the form of snow during the approximately 150 days of frost in the year. Due to the rapidly changing climatic conditions, we recommend that you at all times have handy both a sweater and a wind-proot jacket, also during the summer!
One of the Nordic countries' main attractions is without a doubt the midnight sun, which is out in full from the 14 May to 29 July. But the months of August and September also offer picturesque moments, with stable weather and spectacular sunrises and sunsets!
The first snowfall occurs as a rule in October when the nature begins preparing for the dark winter season. The sun disappears completeIy beyond the horizon on 20 November, not returning again until 22 January. The last part of the vehicle road to the North Cape is closed to the general public after the first heavy snowfall in November and stays closed until April. But for visitors to the North Cape, this is no obstacle - the last stage can be crossed by taking a snowmobile from Skarsvag, and the North Cape Hall opens on request.
During clear winter nights, the Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis - transforms the skies into a colourful, over-dimensioned monitor, where energy-rich, electrically charged sun particles crash into the earth's magnetic field approx. 100 km above the ground and fills the sky with green, yellow-green and red-violet cascades - a magically-magnetic moment!
PEOPLE, FISHING and WAY OF LIFE
"It´s not just the countryside that is interesting, but the people are also friendly and helpful - despite the language difficulties," noted our traveller, Mr. Negri. He was especially happy when he found someone with whom he could communicate - the priest on Magerøya at the time spoke Latin fluently!
Even though we can´t guarantee the Latin skills of the current Magerøy priest, the people in Finnmark are friendly, helpful and communicative to this very day. Just under 4.000 people live in the North Cape municipality, and the wide spectre of jobs reflects a modern commercial and service community.
But the fact that you cannot find a single typical fish store in the fishing municipality of the North Cape has to do with the local industry - who wants to sell sand in the Sahara? Fishing has been a way of life and culture here for several centuries. The sea is ice-free year round because of the Gulf Stream. During the summer months, the pollack bring the sea to a boil, and the cold months are cod and haddock season.
But delicacies such as shrimp, halibut, salmon and Norwegian haddock are also brought in to shore. While the landscape up until the end of the 1970s was characterised by huge fish-drying racks, today the main fish industry is frozen and salted fish. Large amounts of salted fish from the North Cape are sent to drying facilities on the west coast of Norway, and from there exported to the Bacalao-loving countries in Southern Europe and South America. The municipalities' fishing fleet counts approximately 171 boats and each year brings in approximately 17 million kilos of fish. But not all fish is for export, some end up in pots and pans at local restaurants which are well-prepared for your visit.
PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE
Signor Negri would surely not have believed it - but this distant and cold "end of the world" has been inhabited for more than 10,000 years. In the olden days, people lived in turf huts and lived primarily from hunting and fishing. But they also traded with travellers from east and west. During the Viking Age, Finnmark was colonised and the population had to pay taxes. When the fishing industry became commercially viable in the Middle Ages, people moved closer together in small fishing villages as close to the fishing fields as possible - out to areas exposed to the harshest weather conditions.
It was a dangerous and hard life. Every fourth adult male died at sea, and neighbours and relatives had to support the widows and children left behind. The population in the municipality rose and sank in pace with the access to fish and ability to sell the fish to markets in Europe. Trade with the German Hanseatic buyers and Russians tribes was the deciding factor between poverty and prosperity. In the 1930s, the welcomed introduction of motorised boats made it possible for the coastal population to move into more sheltered coves and fjords. Many fishing villages facing out in the open ocean were abandoned and today are only used as summer residences.
When the municipality was founded in 1861, Kjelvik was the municipal centre. This is where the church stood until 1882, with a church bell in honour of St. Nicholas, cast in 1521 in Germany. The church was destroyed in a hurricane, and the church bell is now on exhibit at the North Cape Museum. In 1950, Kjelvik municipality changed its name to North Cape municipality.
In the 1940s, with the German invasion, the most dramatic and saddest chapter in the municipality's history began. No natural catastrophe has ever brought so much destruction and suffering to the people than Hitler's occupation forces. On their retreat in 1944. practically every building in the area fell victim to the German's "scorched earth policy". Only the church from 1885 remained standing in the midst of the smoky ruins, and the population was forcefully evacuated southward under threat of death.
The new start in autumn 1945 cost plenty of energy and optimism. It was not until the middle of the 1960s that the reconstruction was complete. Today, the North Cape municipality consists of six fishing villages. An excellent infrastructure has been built up in the region. A small-plane airport ensures good communications with the rest of the world. The Coastal Steamer (Hurtigruten) calls at Honningsvåg twice a day.
COASTAL STEAMER (HURTIGRUTA)
The World´s Most Beautiful Voyage is a voyage like no other. Nothing can compare with it. Nothing about this journey will resemble anything you have ever experienced before. A ticket for the Coastal Steamer is a ticket to the theatre, an 11-day drama in which new acts constantly unfold all around you. See the pictures from the Coastal Steamer taken by one of our passengers.
SEAGULLS, SEASHELLS and CLOUDBERRIES
Surrounded by Ravenna´s wine, tomato and melon fields, Francesco Negri became more and more curious about the land way up north. What did the local population eat besides fish? Which plants and animals were found among the ice, snow and rock?
But even in this barren, sub-arctic landscape, the fauna and flora is surprisingly diverse and colourful - although understandably not as fertile as in "bella Italia". About 200 different plant species have been registered on Magerøya, among them some very rare species such as Chamorchis alpina, a little orchid, Arenaria humifusa and Braya purpurascens, which otherwise only are found in Arctic regions.
There are also plenty of cloudberries, mountain cranberries and blueberries - down through the ages important sources of vitamin C for the population and delicious garnish for exquisite desserts. During the summer, one can wade in grass up to your knees in quiet oases, and pick wild chives and admire the shining yellow globeflower. There are not many trees, as the treeline goes approximately 150 km south of the North Cape, so the closest we get to a "forest" is a little mountain birch woodland at Gjesvær and a few instances of birch trees and other trees on the mainland!
Along the steep rocky slopes on the coast, many different species of seabird nest. Some of them come to the bird rocks just to brood over their eggs, while the rest of the year they look for food out on the open sea. At Gjesvær you will find one of Finnmark´s largest bird rocks - the nature reserve "Gjesværstappan" with puffin, razor-billed auk, kittiwake, gannet, cormorant, guillemot and sea eagle. In the mountains, the dominating bird is the mountain grouse (lagupus mutus).
The sea also offers a wealth of animals to get a closer look at. There are killer whales, dolphins, porpoises and minke whales. Of the various local seal species, the grey seal with its horse like face is the most distinctive, and keeps to its resting places on the skerries around Gjesværstappan.
The stock of otters has after being protected risen and there are now sustainable colonies. The most common mamals include the hare, ermine, weasel and mink. On the main land, there are stocks of red fox and a few of the protected Arctic fox (Alqpex lagopus).
In the North Cape municipality, there is no longer any farming. In the summer, however, the area is full of reindeer. Each spring in April, six Sami families from Karasjok lead their reindeer approximately 6.000 animals for summer grazing on Magerøya. Some of the reindeer swim across the one kilometre Magerøy sound, or are transported across with the help of the military's landing barges.
After the summer a part of the herd is slaughtered in September, the remaining are led the 30 miles back to winter grazing grounds in the inner parts of Finnmark. The inquisitive among us have plenty of opportunities to find small "treasures" in the flotsam to be found on the beaches at low tide. But remember that the North Cape municipality is located in the sub-arctic zone and has an eco-system well adapted to the climate, but poorly adapted to human interference.
Low temperatures mean a low growth rate and each little plant must struggle for years to gain a foothold against the natural elements. Wear and tear on nature will be visible for years to come, so do not leave any waste, or anything else behind and use the established rest and camping sites. Egg collectors and bird catchers represent a serious threat to the bird population. Be observant and report anything you might come across that seems suspicious. Taking care of our nature will give you - and those who come after you - a richer experience!
ADVENTURES, NOBILITY and U
"One trip to the North Cape and back is not enough!", wrote Mr. Negri at an age of 60 years, and applied to the grand duke of Tuscany for financial support to undertake another expedition. Unfortunately his request was turned down, so a lack of funds prevented him from returning to "Capo Nord".
The dream of "riches", not just scientific curiosity, attracted seamen, discoverers and adventurers to the coast of Finnmark already before Mr. Negris' visit. In 1553, an English expedition started its dangerous journey along the coast of Norway in search of a North East passage. After his return, the highest in command on one of the three ships, Richard Chancellor, published a navigational chart of his trip, in which for the first time we can read the name "North Cape".
In the wake of this expedition, a number of other "wild and adventurous" men passed by the North Cape - whale catchers and traders of various nationalities and not least of all pirates. One had to have one´s finances in order to afford a trip to the North Cape and there were more than a few "high and mighty" personalities among the first tourists Prince Louis Philippe of Orleans, Oskar ll of Sweden/Norway, Keiser Wilhelm ll of Germany and King Chulalonkorn of Thailand - just to mention a few. In 1890, a first-class ticket on a 7-day trip from Trondheim to the North Cape cost NOK 300 - at the time an astronomical amount !
In 1875, the travel agency Cook in London organised the first group trip - for 24 participants. A new era had begun! In a travel handbook from 1867, a stay in Gjesvær is recommended.... "Accommodation and service at the local shopkeeper is good and cheap - and his governess even entertains by playing the piano!"
It was strenusous to climb up the cliff, and many visitors had to turn back before they reached their final destination because of the weather. One usually had to row from Skarsvåg or Gjesvær to Hornvika a little east of the North Cape and then climb the 307 metres high cliff. In 1892, the first precursor to the current North Cape Hall was built on the plateau - "Stoppenbrinks Champagne Pavillion", a small octagonal wooden building.
Champagne and postcards to friends and family was the reward for the tiring climb. The North Cape municipality built and financed the road between Honningsvåg and the North Cape which was opened in 1956, and thus visitors no longer needed to come equipped with climbing shoes and a climbing staff. The traffic picked up rapidly, from approximately 7.000 visitors the first year to about 265.000 in the record year of 1994.
In 1959, the first North Cape Hall was built. It was significantly expanded and improved both in 1988 and 1997. Today the building is a modern tourist facility for all "adventurers" who find their way up to the North Cape.
Deep-sea fishing in one of the world´s most fish populated sea. Seafishing for Cod, Catfish, Haddock, Pollack, Redfish and even Halibuton a good day, is an overwheling experience for those who have never met the ocean before. The record catch for Halibut in this area was greater then a whopping 200 kg! Seafishermen who want larger fishes such as halibut have excellent conditions. If you are lucky you can even see seals or small whales.
The North Cape Golfclub have 9 holes and lies in Lakselv.