Sami culture and prolific prehistoric rock carvings in Far North of Norway

After a fascinating morning in the town’s War Museum we departed Narvik in the early afternoon headed for the city of Tromsø.

Departing Narvik

Located 350 kilometres (217 miles) north of the Arctic Circle on the island of Tromsøya, Tromsø is connected to the mainland by the 1,036 metre long Tromso Bridge.

The 1036 metre Tromso Bridge

By late evening we were about an hour from Tromsø so we decided to spend the night at a roadside stop and travel on to explore the city the following day.

Such a beautiful place to stop for the night
Glorious views
Our early morning view

Tromsø is meant to be warmer than most other places located on the same latitude, due to the warming effect of the Gulf Stream, however you could have fooled us! We arrived on a drizzly, miserable day and despite being wrapped up in jeans and jackets we felt distinctly chilly. Strangely, we saw a number of locals strolling around in shorts and t-shirts so perhaps to them it seemed mild!

Shorts?! Must be mad it was freezing!

We had been intrigued to see so much tree-growth (amazingly including quite a lot of apple trees) in this part of the world but once we learned about the Gulf Stream we understood why the landscape wasn’t composed almost entirely of tundra as we had expected.

Green fields and plenty of trees – even this far north!

There was plenty to see and do in Tromsø including the Arctic Cathedral, the Polar Museum and Polaria – the world’s most northerly aquarium.

The Arctic Cathedral at Tromso

There are many colourful houses like these in Tromso

Animal shows normally make me feel very uncomfortable but the trainers at the seal show said that their charges were originally captured for research (that would benefit seals) and after the research was halted the seals wouldn’t have survived in the wild. The training that they participated in every day was necessary to keep them interested and fit and not done just as a show for tourists.

The seals really did seem to enjoy their workout.

At the Polar Museum the main exhibits featured expeditions to the South Pole, polar seafaring tradition, polar hunting legends etc but the most fascinating exhibit for us was about the Sami people who inhabit Sápmia region stretching over four countries – Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.

Part of the Sami Exhibit at the Polar Museum

Traditionally, the Sámi have pursued livelihoods such as coastal fishing, fur trapping, and sheep herding but their best-known occupation is semi-nomadic reindeer herding. Nowadays only about ten per cent of the Sámi are connected to reindeer herding.

The Sapmi nation stretches across four countries

Our final destination before heading back south again was Hammerfest – a 440 km drive from Tromsø and Norway’s northernmost “town” (although not the northernmost settlement – towns in Norway must have a population above 5,000 for that legal distinction.)

The road trip was again absolutely stunning – just when we thought the scenery couldn’t be any more beautiful it put on such a display – we were left awestruck!

Photos can’t do justice to the awe-inspiring scenery

Snow barriers in case of avalanches

We spent a great night under the shadow of a mountain and on the shores of a fjord. The following day we stopped outside Alta to visit the incredible collection of rock carvings at Jiepmaluokta. Discovered in 1973, there are thousands of carvings at this site which has now been turned into an open air museum.

Camping under a mountain

The oldest carvings are believed to have been made around 5,200 BC and the most recent in around 500 BC.

The incredible rock carvings near Alta

As yachties, we thought these depicted fishermen throwing out their anchors however, the archeologists seem to think they were indulging in Shamanistic rituals!

These extraordinary carvings depict a hunter gathering culture and include scenes of reindeer herding, boat building, fishing and shamanistic rituals.

The view from the museum building

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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