General Information

The geography of Lofoten Islands

A pearl located 200 kilometres beyond the Arctic Circle

The Lofoten Islands are a mountain range 160 km long with wild and craggy mountains that rise directly from the sea. The mountains are formed by rocks that are older than northern Europe, being more than 3 billion years old! The most important transformation of the landscape, however, occurred in the last 2.5 millions years and, in particular, it was shaped during the ice age. The mountain peaks that emerged from the ice during the last ice age, from 9,000 to 11,000 years ago, shaped the landscape. The ice carved small valleys between the rounded tops of the mountains and, when receding, brought large amounts of stones of all sizes with it which settled in the form of moraines. The mountains are surrounded by coastal plains which originated from a series of factors such as ice and marine erosion.

The rock layers which were less firm, allowed water to dig the fjords and straits that divide the landscape into a series of islands, the 5 major islands that form this archipelago. The straits that separate the islands have strong tidal currents. High tide is higher in Vesfjord than the on Atlantic side and it is this difference in level that creates strong currents.

The vortex which is located between Mosken and Lofotodden, is one of the strongest marine vortices in the world. It is described in many sagas and stories and writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and Jules Verne have consigned it to world literature. However, very little has been done to describe and understand its dynamics and only in recent decades have they tried to create a mathematical model of the current and measure it.

The climate and the Midnight Sun phenomenon

The Lofoten Islands and the wonders of nature.

The northern lands are characterised by their light and climate. North of the Arctic Circle we have the midnight sun phenomenon at the turn of the summer solstice – in Svolvær the sun stays above the horizon for twenty-four hours from 25 May to 18 July.

Similarly, the sun disappears from the horizon for a period of time in the middle of winter and, therefore, we have the Arctic night – in Svolvær it lasts from 7 December to 5 January. This phenomenon is caused by the inclination of Earth’s axis, an imaginary line that runs from pole to pole on which the planet rotates. Rotating around the sun, the Earth’s inclination causes the North Pole to be exposed to the sun (keeping it illuminated even when the earth is spinning) and away from it in winter (keeping it in the dark).

Hence the continuous sunlight during the summer. Twenty-four hours of sunlight give the flora and fauna along the coast a burst of energy and rapid and luxuriant growth. The Lofoten Islands have also a very mild climate although they are so North because sea currents convey warm water northward along the Norwegian coast. It is the Gulf Stream that keeps the climate so mild. The weather conditions and wind can change very quickly.

Towards the Norwegian coast, in autumn and winter, very often we have low pressures with south-westerly winds or storms and a lot of rainfall, while in summer the high pressure on the Arctic ice cap often gives clear weather conditions. The coast towards the Vestfjord is better sheltered on the internal side where we find most of the population of Lofoten still engaged in fishing Arctic cod, the “Skrei”. The “Arctic” cod lives in the Barents Sea, north of Lofoten and in autumn it begins its migration towards the Vesfjord where it will remain till the end of March, before beginning its northward migration again. Skrei finds the optimal conditions for spawning in the Vestfjord. The external side, however, is much more weather-beaten, the coast is barren and almost unapproachable.

The Northern Lights

What it is and where to see it better

Each appearance of the Northern Lights is unique and unrepeatable. Shapes and colours vary each time. No aurora is the same as another, the intensity changes, the shape changes, the duration changes and the shades of colour change. The Aurora looks like a painting, a surreal experience. But what are the Northern Lights, really? What are the myths and legends associated with them? Why have they always aroused fear and respect in the past?

Are they just fantasy or also science? How do you take a photo of them? We decided to dedicate an entire page to one of the most extraordinary phenomena of the planet. We wanted to tell you about the myths and superstitions associated with it and we also wanted to dedicate part of it to a close friend and co-worker as well as a great photographer for passion, Thomas who dedicates part of his life in search of the perfect shot, of the unique emotion that only the Aurora can give us. A true “Aurora hunter”, he never gives up, can stand the cold, is armed with passion and patience and for this … rewarded. If you decide to see the Aurora Borealis you must never give up. Your dedication and your patience will be rewarded by this extraordinary event.