One of the most exciting attractions of Lofoten Islands during my week stay was definitely this sea eagle safari to Trollfjord, which starts from Svolvær. I have seen some time ago one video of this kind of safari and ever since I wanted to go to Norway and experience myself such an encounter with this wonderful bird! If you like wildlife and especially birds, this sea eagle safari is definitely worth it!
If you are reading this blog, you must know already that I am a huge bird lover, I spent my entire childhood with birds and I have been fascinated by birds ever since I can remember! Birds of prey, and eagles in particular, are majestic, big birds, that have huge strength in their claws and beaks and yet, so light!
In this case the sea eagle is actually the white-tailed eagle, which can grow up to 6.9 kg and it's the biggest eagle in Europe. On a world-wide scale, the white-tailed eagle is the fourth heaviest eagle in the world, but it has the longest wingspan. Their wingspan can reach up to 2.45 m in length and the females are up to 25 % heavier than males.
I have booked my sea eagle safari about 3 months before my trip from lofoten.info and I paid 1 020 NOK (around 100 €) for one person. The price was rather steep, but this is Norway, where everything is really expensive, especially in the north, during the touristic season.
We drove to Svolvær and we managed to park our car around 10 minutes walk away from the starting place of the sea eagle safari. The harbour is right in the centre of the town, surrounded by beautiful fisherman's cabins (or "rorbu", as they call it in Norwegian).
You can admire the cottages and take a walk around Svolvær before or after the sea eagle safari. We were informed when we bought the ticket that thermal suit, safety vest, goggles, cap and gloves are included and we should just bring warm shoes and camera. I visited Lofoten during mid August and I had a wonderful weather! I was thinking it's so warm outside that we wouldn't need all of those, but we had to put them on anyway. There were around 22 degrees in the harbour and really sunny and we got a bit sweaty before we left, but those were really great when we got out of the harbour!
I didn't actually think that much when I reserved the trip what kind of boat we will use and I found out on the spot that it is a speed boat. I had very bad experiences with speed boats before, so I was a bit skeptical. On the actual boat you don't really have normal seats, which is really good. You need to kind of hop over and the "seat" is between your legs, so you can easily use your legs to stand up and avoid being hurt if it is too bumpy. There is also a metal bar to hold on to really tight, so everything looked pretty safe and comfortable. During the trip you cannot move away from your spot, so you should get everything you need close by and make sure they are properly secured, otherwise they might fly away. The whole trip you are surrounded by mountains, so the only waves you will get will be those from other boats. The driver was very careful and safe, so this was the nicest boat ride I have ever had with a speed boat! The space between people is rather small, so if you have a big lens you should try to reserve the spaces in the front of the boat. In my case I was in the second row and I had to be careful not to hit anyone with my long lens. The goggles are really great because you can admire the scenery while the boat is speeding!
Soon after we left we stopped for a while and admired the beautiful landscape of Raftsundet! As I mentioned before, you couldn't really move that much during the trip, so I had a 100 mm - 400 mm lens on my camera all the time. I couldn't take too many scenery pictures with this big lens, but I still managed to get a few nice ones!
During the trip we stopped enough times to admire the landscapes, with the impressive mountain peaks around Svolvær! The guide was a local guy that was born in Svolvær and has lived all his life here! He had really nice stories about the fishing villages and the culture of the Lofoten people. He was describing that in the older times, while men were out fishing, women had the responsibility to keep the whole household. They had to raise the kids, feed all the animals and take care of everything at home. He was really emphasising the importance of women and how women actually had a tough job that required a lot of effort, including his great-grandmother.
Maybe 15 minutes after we left we saw our first sea eagle! The guide used fish as a bait to attract the sea eagles and the eagles seem to be already very used to the boats. The guides might also use a special call to tell the eagles that they should come eat. Sea eagles have excellent vision and they know already that boats full of tourists means that they will get food.
We had a great show and everyone got to experience the eagle diving for fish from all sides! Here are a series of burst shots that capture the sea eagle diving and catching a fish!
White tailed eagles can reach speed up to 70 km/h!
I was already really happy after this moment and we had at least another 1.5 h to go :)
When we reached Trollfjord we were stunned by the beauty of this place! There were mountains with high peaks, some of them covered with snow. Unfortunately there were also some bigger boats here, so we were far from alone.
The sea eagles in Trollfjord were mainly resting on the branches in the vegetation around the cliffs, like in the picture above. The eagles here were a bit shy and didn't come too close. They flew above us for a bit, but they lost interest quickly.
When there were no sea eagles around, lots of seagulls were gathering around and on the boat. One seagull even landed on someone's head :) Usually seagulls are hated by people, but I was pleasantly surprised that the people here actually like them. The guide himself said that he actually admires seagulls and he was feeding them the fish that the eagles didn't want. I can imagine that many boats come around here and feed the sea eagles, so they were a probably full.
After spending some time in Trollfjord, the guide was a bit disappointed that the sea eagles didn't come too close, so he tried his best to find good spots where eagles would be interested to come closer to the boat. He seemed very experienced and seemed to know the best spots where we can see more eagles.
After a few minutes we arrived in a bay of an abandoned village and we spotted a juvenile sea eagle. When we got a bit closer it turned out that it was trying to fly away, but it couldn't get that much lift and its wings weren't strong enough. We didn't go too close because we didn't want to cause too much stress for the bird. The image below is cropped quite a lot, so the bird wasn't this close.
After a few minutes, in the same bay, two other sea eagles came and dived for the fish that was thrown to them in the water. They were really close to the boat and they dived several times on both sides of the boat, so everyone got to see them in action!
We even got to see a little fight between the eagles. Eagles prefer to steal the food from other eagles instead of catching it themselves, so these fights are pretty common between eagles. It was just amazing to watch!
After a great sea eagle safari we said goodbye to the eagles and then we headed back to Svolvær. This was such an amazing experience and I would recommend to anyone who travels to Lofoten to book a sea eagle safari to Trollfjord!