Photography by Ian Cameron

Lofoten Masterclass

 

Course Duration: 8 Nights ------ £2095   (Flights / Ferry not included)
(single person occupancy of single, twin / double bedrooms - Half Board).

* Maximum group size  FOUR

* All transport at location included.

* Pick up/drop off to/from Leknes airport or Moskenes ferry terminal.


Ranked as the third most beautiful island on the planet by National Geographic, an organisation that certainly has the authority and funding to know, the Lofoten islands majestically arise from the sea off the west coast of Norway like the mythical citadel of Valhalla.  The mountains are impossibly steep, immediate and awe inspiring despite their surprisingly manageable Scottish dimensions.  The Lofoten islands are situated just within the Arctic circle and consequently they are subject to both eternal darkness and perpetual light during mid winter and mid summer. 

So when is it best to visit the Lofotens?  Well after discussion with locals and a few photographers, opinion seems to be evenly divided, there are certainly pluses and minuses to all the seasons.

Winter has the shortest days but arguably the best and most seductive light. That of course is during those rare occasions when the weather doesn't play complete havoc with photographic opportunity.  Another huge plus during the winter period is the regular appearance of one of nature's most breathtaking phenomomenon, the Northern Lights.  Lofoten is probably one of the finest locations in the world to view them, but again I should emphasise fine clear weather is critical for a decent display.  Photographing it is not particularly difficult as long as you take the right equipment.  During the winter months the island is at its quietest, except for other photographers, but you should also remember that just about everything is closed and the days are very short.

Spring is my preferred season to visit.  During the Spring you have a real chance of decent weather during your stay.  I don't just mean blue sky and sunshine, I mean opportunities interspersed with wild weather and some prolonged dry spells, the bonus being that you are still very likely to see snow dusting those 1000m peaks and the first flush of Spring colour beneath.  The transition from rich colour to moody monochrome always fascinates me and invigorates my pictures.  The days are long and get noticeably longer throughout your stay on the island, sunrise is around 6.30am and sunset after 20.00 hours. This has some photographic benefits especially towards the ends of the day as sunrise and sunset can be long drawn out colourful affairs and it never seems to truly get dark. 

The one major caveat during the Spring season is that the sky is NEVER dark enough to adequately view or photograph the Northern Lights, so if this is your criteria for joining ths course - think again.  Temperatures hover around zero to 5 degrees Celcius so there is very little ice and it is mostly unfrozen at ground level, that said you can expect a dusting of snow on the ground sometimes more, rain, snow, frost and sunshine, reminiscent in fact of Scotland during the winter months. 

If you would like to see a selection of my Lofoten images made on previous trips please head over to the Lofoten Gallery.

Travel Arrangements:  

I will be flying out from Edinburgh to Oslo airport and then from Oslo to Bodo airport and finally a short 30 minute hop to Leknes airport on the Lofoten Islands where I will pick up our hire vehicle.  Flying from England presents many more flight opportunities, whatever your starting location will be, I recommend looking at Norwegian.com for the best flight prices and SAS airlines (usually costing a little more), for the peace of mind that this company brings on the rare occasions that flights are cancelled or missed at Bodo. (hotel accommodation and rearranged flights are covered).

Just for the record I thoroughly enjoyed taking the option of taking the Bodo ferry to Moskenes as an alternative to flying from Bodo to Leknes.  I did this on my first trip to Lofoten and I would certainly recommend it if the weather is kind. If on the other hand you are not a good sailor and there is a substantial swell then you would be well advised to forget this option and don't even consider it if the course is winter based.  Should you want to use the ferry, fly to Bodo as before but instead of flying to Leknes airport  take the afternoon ferry which leaves the port of Bodo around 16.30 hours arriving at Moskenes in the Lofoten Islands around 20.30 hours.  This is a mere ten minute drive from our final destination at Reine the photographic heart of Lofoten where our guesthouse is situated.  Naturally I will be there to meet you on your arrival at Moskenes should you wish to choose this option and you can always choose to arrive by one means and use the other to get back.

The approximate cost of a return flight from the UK to Leknes airport on the Lofotens is around £500 (UKP).  There is a considerable saving on the cost taking the ferry from Bodo to Moskenes instead of the half hour flight from Bodo to Leknes.  The decision is yours.

My responsibility for you begins and ends at the Lofoten islands, all you have to do is get there preferably on the commencement date.  Things do occasionally go wrong but I will rectify them as best I can when/if it happens.

 
Accommodation:

The accommodation that you will be staying at is in the stunning village of Reine which is surely the photographic heart of the Lofoten Islands.  Reine is a gorgeous little fishing village sheltered on three sides by impossibly steep and precipitous mountains. The Det Gamle Hotellet run by our lovely host Lilian is run on a bed and breakfast basis.  Lilian has kindly agreed to supply evening meals which is a huge bonus as very few places are open, she is an excellent cook and she doesn't limit herself to catering exclusively to Norwegian tastes, there is also the option to buy a packed lunch if you require it.  The Det Gamle Hotellet is fairly basic and simply furnished but warm and comfortable. You will be staying single occupancy in clean and warm single or double / twin bedrooms.  None of the bedrooms have ensuite facilities but there is a decent sized bathroom with a very good shower and a bath and seemingly plenty of hot water situated on the first floor and this services all the adjacent five bedrooms, a sensible rota system of usage seems to mitigate most of the potential usage problems.

The two single rooms are on the second floor in what would be considered the buildings loft, they are small, but plenty warm enough.  Access to them is via a steep angled wooden staircase which might prove difficult for some, I usually take one of the single rooms and one person will need to take the other.  I can offer a discount of £150 (UKP) to the occupier of one or more of the single rooms on a first come first served basis.  Please indicate to me in an email your preferences and if they are still available I will ensure your option is reserved. 

A sheet sleeping bag is provided for each of the guests and you make your own bed.  The premises has wooden floors which don't apreciate getting wet and all external shoes are removed at the entrance vestibule and stored there.  Please bring internal slippers or soft shoes as the floorboards on the stairs can get a little too slippery for socks.



Outside the bedrooms is a small upstairs lounge facility with tea, coffee and cookies available whenever required, on a help yourself basis.  The beds themselves have thin mattresses which I found inexplicably comfortable despite the apparent lack of support, you will need to put on your linen (supplied) and make your own beds.  Reine has a decent sized Co-op for stocking up with treats and a few restaurants mainly selling fish dishes based around the ubiquitous cod, but the most striking feature of the village is the many bright red Rorbrua that adorn the waterfront.  The rorbrua were originally the fisherman's huts but most have been adapted and let out for accommodation purposes during the summer months when the population of Reine quintuples.

Not included in your trip are any air fares or ferry fares to and from Leknes airport or Moskenes ferry terminal.

The booking of any flights will be entirely your own responsibility. Please do NOT book any flights until I have confirmed that there are sufficient numbers to make the workshop viable. I will forward an email advising you of my own booking times and dates so that you can arrange similar flights.  Relatively early booking of flights is advisable as Lofoten flights from Bodo to Leknes fill surprisingly quickly.

Any deposit paid will be refunded should there be insufficient interest, but the cost of any booked flights will not.

Finally I don't anticipate that you will have much need of additional currency which of course is Norwegian Krona, as there is not too many shops open to spend it on.  However, Reine does have a Co-op, a tea room/coffee house and cake shop,  I usually buy some fruit and goodies at these and if you require packed lunch (I usually don't), then you would need to pay Lilian in the local currency. 


Grade: EASY. Short level walks all easy and quick return to the vehicle. Please note temperatures even in early May can hover around 0 degrees celcius.

A £450.00 deposit is required to reserve a place on the course.

Update:
For the record as long as you can get to Reine on 29th or 30th March 2017. (It takes approx. an hour to get from Leknes to Reine by driving and there are buses too), then I am sure we can get around all issues, Lillian (your host), would have room and board available the day before (if necessary), I’m sure, she also appreciates the need for flexibility. By the way when you look up flight costs for the last stage hop across to Leknes to and from Bodo look at the Wideroe airlines website direct, the prices are normally much better.

My schedule from Edinburgh would be as follows. (Likewise I haven’t booked it yet)


Outward Bound:
Wednesday 29 March 2017
Flight 1. Edinburgh to Oslo leaving at 21.40 hours arriving around midnight

Thursday 30 March 2017
Flight 2. Oslo to Bodo leaving at 08.55 hours arriving 10.25
Flight 3. Bodo to Leknes (Wideroe airlines) leaving at 12.35 arriving 13.00 hours

Inward Bound:
Friday 07 April 2017
Flight 1 Leknes to Bodo (Wideroe airlines) leaving at 11.40 hours arriving 12.05
Flight 2 Bodo to Oslo leaving at 15.30 hours arriving 17.00 hours
Flight 3 Oslo to Edinburgh leaving at 19.50 hours arriving 20.40 hours


I will be collecting a hire car with reasonably decent luggage space on arrival at Leknes, usually Lillian travels to the airport to meet us and help transport additional luggage and occasionally she can do the same on the return trip but never-the-less keep you luggage as compact as possible.


Warning:

When transferring between Oslo and Bodo you will need to collect all your hold luggage and then re-book it in on the plane bound for Bodo, that means you should NOT choose a short transfer time between the two flights or you may miss it.  On occasions particularly in the winter months the Wideroe airline flights to Leknes from Bodo get cancelled.  If this should happen then your insurance may not cover overnight accommodation, but if you wish to alleviate this risk then booking on an SAS flight right through to Leknes on Lofoten will at least ensure your overnight accommodation is taken care of until you can fly out.  This is an unlikely scenario in Spring and Autumn.


Caveats:

1. Don't use the ferry if you are prone to sea sickness as a 4 + hour crossing of 60 miles on the open sea on a rough day is traumatic.

2. Drying Cod hanging upside down on racks smell overpoweringly of fish.  I got used to it fairly quickly the Norwegians refer to it as the smell of money.

3. Food and drink in Norway is very expensive and tends to be based around Cod, it may not be to everyones tastes.

4. You will not see or photograph any Northern Lights after April as the sky simply does not get dark enough.

5. The weather is generally even more unpredictable than that of Scotland.  I can't control the weather.

6. Key to photographing lofoten is being out for sunrise and sunset.  The hours are very long, sleep deprivation is likely. 


Pros:

1. The scenery is utterly mindblowingly spectacular and is seemingly limitless.  It completely offsets all of the above.

2. No Language barrier, English is easily spoken by everybody I met on the island.