Can you go on a Whale Safari in Lofoten?

9 min read

Curious about whale safaris in Lofoten ? Dubbed one of the most beautiful places in the world, Lofoten is a popular summer destination for people all over the world. The mighty mountains, the beautiful fjords and the charming little villages makes up the picturesque scenery many people want to experience for themselves. The Lofoten fjords also has a rich marine life and many people are wondering if it's possible to go on a whale safari in Lofoten

Can You See Whales in Lofoten?

About ten years ago there were several organized whale safari trips in Lofoten, but as they follow the herring, the whales are now wandering further and further north. Though there is no organized whale safaris in Lofoten today, this could always change in the future. If the herring starts moving south again, the whales will follow. It is still possible to see whales in Lofoten as they do tend to show up every so often. But you have to go looking for them, and you have to have an itty-bit of luck on your side.


You can’t expect the whales to swim to shore and say hello just because you want them to. Even though there are no whale safaris at the moment, there are several boat trips and sightseeing cruises you can join to explore the Lofoten fjords. These cruises give you the opportunity to spot local wildlife such as sea eagles, owls, golden eagles, puffins, sea otters and more. If you are lucky, you will also see whales on these trips, but that is an added bonus.

What Type of Whales Can You See in Lofoten?

There’s a Norwegian expression saying “Nobody knows where the bunny hops”, and this is pretty much true for the whales as well. Or rather, where it will swim. So even though it is not "common" for a particular species to visit Lofoten, you never know. The species most commonly seen in this area, however, are orcas, minke whales and porpoises.

The whale doesn’t stay in one place, it moves from one place to another depending on what it’s plotting next. The whale mainly follows the food – the fish – which means that some species come to the Norwegian coast when there is food around, and swims to warmer regions when it is time to mate and give birth.

Orcas (Killer Whales)

Sitting pretty at the the very top of the food chain the orca has no natural enemies. It hunts in packs and is not afraid of anyone – neither the white shark nor the blue whale can feel completely safe when this guy is in town. Orcas can be seen all year round along the Norwegian coast, but it is more common to see larger accumulations in areas and periods with loads of herring.


Just like an advanced machinery, the orcas filters out the best part of of the herring inside its mouth and spits out the bone, head and blood. There are currently about 3,000 killer whales in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea.

Facts
Family: Dolphin
Length: 5 - 8 m
Mass: 5-10 tons
Lifespan: 10-45 years
Order: Toothed whale

Minke Whale

The minke whale can be found in Norwegian waters mainly in the summer, but it’s possible to spot it all year round. It spends most of the winter in the southern areas between the Strait of Gibraltar and the Caribbean Sea. This is where it mates and gives birth to its calves. In the spring, it moves further north for food, and in Norwegian waters you can see minke whales in the North Sea, in the Norwegian Sea, along the Norwegian coast and in the Barents Sea. It's only natural enemy is the killer whale and it can eat around 1.5 tons of fish a day. See map of the minke whale orientation.

Facts
Family: Fin whale
Length: 5.5 meters
Lifespan: 30-40 years
Mass: 5-8 tons
Order: Baleen whale

Porpoise

This little rascal has gotten its Norwegian name “Nise” from a Norse word meaning to sneeze. The name refers to the blowing sound you can hear when the porpoises come to the surface to breathe. These cuties can be seen almost everywhere along the coast in Norway and is one of the species most often appearing on Lofoten sightseeing trips. With its small and compact physique and slight “beak” it can resemble a dolphin’s appearance. Though the porpoise is the species of the largest quantity in Norway it doesn't come into the fjords when the herring is here, possible due to it being a target for the orcas.

Facts
Family:
Phocoenidae
Length: 120-250 centimeters
Lifespan: 8-10 years
Mass: 25–125 kg.
Order: Toothed whale

Fjord Trips and Sightseeing Cruises in Lofoten

If you want to explore the beautiful fjords of Lofoten for the chance to experience the local wildlife, you can join a sightseeing cruise. Experience some of the most beautiful fjord landscapes in the whole country – if you are lucky a whale or two will come and say hello.

Experience the Majestic Reinefjord

Experience the beautiful Reinefjorden, Kjerkefjorden and Forsfjorden. On this trip you are surrounded by the mighty mountains Olstinden, Seiltinden, Helvetestinden and Reinebringen, brutally rising from the sea. Explore the small villages in the area and stop by the café in Vindstad.

Take your time, go on an adventure and choose the returning departure most suitable for you. If you choose to stay on the boat, you can enjoy some of Lofoten's most beautiful mountain and fjord landscapes from the deck. If luck is on your side, you will also be able to spot killer whales playing in the sea or other species prowling for fish.

Wildlife Sightseeing to Værøy

The sightseeing cruise to Værøy is the perfect trip for anyone dreaming of an adventurous sea voyage. Here you will sail past majestic mountains and through the world's largest whirlpool, Moskenesstraumen. On the way to Værøy you can spot local birds like sea eagles, owls, golden eagles, puffins, ospreys and more. If you are lucky, you can even spot orcas, porpoises and other species.

The guide pays close attention to the surroundings and can tell you everything you need to know about the local wildlife, history and the areas surrounding you. On Værøy you can explore the island on foot, go on a mountain hike to Håen or rent a bike for 200 NOK.

If you are not ready to end the adventure just yet, there are several accommodation options on Værøy. On the way back you will sail through Moskenesstraumen again, and the captain slows down the vessel in the hopes of spotting the majestic mammals hiding under the surface.


Other Whale Species You Might Spot in Lofoten

Humpback Whale

This guy usually goes on a romantic holiday to the Caribbean during the Summer and comes to Norway during winter to gulp down massive amounts of herring. However, this feast mostly takes places further north, from Tromsø and upwards.

Pilot Whale

In the northern regions there’s a lot of pilot whales in the areas around Greenland and Iceland, and it is not uncommon for them to pop down to Norway. This species is only sporadically observed in or outside the Norwegian fjords during periods with large amounts of herring.

Sperm Whale

In Northern Norway, you are most likely to spot the sperm whale during Summer. It has not been proven that this species comes to the Norwegian fjords to eat herring in the winter, but it has been observed out on the continental shelf slopes during winter.

It is easiest to spot the sperm whale outside of Andenes, a bit further north, but if you are lucky, you can spot it in Lofoten as well.

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