Saltstraumen Maelstrom & Dypen NRJuly 15, 2017 in Norway
Today would be the first day in 24 days that we had fewer than 24 hours of daylight, the sun having set at 12:33am for a whole hour!
We left our overnight spot earlier than usual to watch an amazing natural phenomenon - the Saltstraumen Maelstrom; a series of whirlpools that form at mid tide as the water drains between two fjords via the 150m wide, 3km long Saltstraumen Straight. It is claimed to be the world's 'largest' tidal current, moving 400 million cubic metres of water with speeds of up to 20 knots. You can see a video of what we saw on VnWTravels' YouTube Channel here: https://youtu.be/up-WRRksAv4
Parking up with a group of other vans, we headed out, clad in waterproofs, to the apex of the large tall and long Saltstrambrua bridge that spanned the Staright, from where we could observe the spectacle from above. In the main channel, two wide bands of aerated water, whirling and bubbling like a jacuzzi, stretched downstream. It was difficult to believe this was the sea, not a river. Distinctively different colours of turquoise and emerald green were being stirred up and running alongside each other. We passed over Storeholmen, a midstream island on which a multitudinous colony of gulls was nesting and flying in to feed their fluffy speckled chicks, who huddled into the low vegetation or blended into the bare rock.
On the far side of the island was a narrower channel in which many smaller tight twirls of water travelled with the current in lines almost perpendicular to the flow. These weren't infused with air like the larger ones and their cores were dark.
On our return a speedboat boat came powering through the comparatively calm middle line between the two large bands of cauldrons (as they are known locally). However, when it hit the point at which the two whirlpool strings met it was pulled from side to side and struggled to keep its course. Rather them than us!
After a warming cuppa and biccies in the van we had a wander down to the shore under the bridge to take in the maelstrom at close quarters. Many whirlpools were over 5m in diameter and it was interesting to see a marked difference in the height of the water bubbling up compared to that of the calmer sections. We spent quarter of an hour or so in a nearby centre that sold a few souvenirs and had an impressive photographic display of underwater scenes, many of them close-ups of fish or marine minibeasts, printed on large glossy boards (although we doubt they were taken in the Straights).
Moving on and inland, we entered the Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park and found home for the night in a restplace in Dypen Nature Reserve. Parked overlooking white water rapids bordered with trees and cradled in between two steep rocky slopes it was a beautiful spot. When the rain abated that evening we sat on one of the round wooden picnic tables with a glass of whiskey while Will did his best to keep a fire going in a stone circle with the slightly damp wood he'd collected. Swatting at the odd mosquito, we toasted to what would be our last night within the Arctic Circle for a while.Read more