Sustainable Tourism on the Cusp of the Polar Circle

Vega Islands Credit: Joachim Moxon

Vega Islands Credit: Joachim Moxon

The newly started company SeilNorge is offering tailored itineraries and a fresh sailing experience in one of the most beautiful coastal spots in the world.

Described as the most beautiful coast in the world, the Norwegian coast of Helgeland runs through the northern province of Nordland straight to the polar circle. It has become the haunting grounds for a new, youthful venture offering a tailored sailing experience along a rugged and achingly beautiful coastline.

Brønnøysund to Træna

The sailing begins in the sleepy town of Brønnøysund and ends at the Træna islands, just in time for the popular music festival, which is held on this remarkable spot every year.

In the meantime, participants will dine at fine restaurants, go bird-watching inside a UNESCO heritage site, climb a mountain and join a sailing regatta. There are also opportunities for mountaineering, kayaking and plenty of fishing. The 1-week sailing experience is open to both qualified sailors as well as complete novices. For the latter, the group offers an ideal introduction to the world of leisure sailing, great care is taken to offer basic instruction.

Hildurs Urterarium

Routes will vary, but the first week of this year’s batch, which numbered a total of 27 visitors, headed straight for Hildurs Urterarium. The restaurant is only 5 km outside of Brønnøysund, but offers a gorgeous setting for the herbal gardens cultivated on site. Set amidst the rough fauna and the slopes of the surrounding mountains, the gardens are a true oasis. The menu is rich and varied but the true personal discovery was how something as simple as a pizza would come alive with fresh and local ingredients.

The Vega Islands

From the mainland, the journey reaches across to the sea past the striking natural tunnel of Torghatten to reach the islands of Vega. The area is dotted with thousands of tiny islands, making it an ideal breeding spot for birds. It has been a UNESCO world heritage sight since 2004.

The islands are unique for the traditional production of eiderdown quilts, a fabric produced naturally by the eider duck. The female eider plucks its own breast to make a nest. To facilitate this process, the locals have been building shelters for the birds since the age of the vikings.

On the main island of Vega, the tour makes a stop at the Vega Havhotell. The restaurant is among the region’s finest and the excellent concoctions of seafood they dish out are a must for a starving sailor. Fresh fish is also a great alternative. Anchoring up between the islands, there are many good spots for fishing or even kayaking. The sight of a midnight sun, which never fully sets, bouncing off the ripples of the remarkably calm waters, is an
unforgettable treat.

7 Sisters Mountains

Onwards to new adventures, from the Vega islands the boats head once again in the direction of the mainland, to the sight of majestic peaks. The most adventurous try for all seven of the seven sister mountains on Alsten island. The rest of us, however, try for one or two. The reward comes at the top: Sitting above a sea of clouds, soaking in the unexpected rays of the baking sun. A fresh dip in the glacial lakes and streams is the ultimate oomph.

From Alsten, the tour joins a local regatta for the race to Træna. Mid-way lies the striking island of Lovund, home to the enigmatic bird the puffin, or as it is affectionately called: The parrot of the seas.

Træna Music Festival

Træna itself is a remarkable little community right at the edge of the polar circle. With a striking landscape of hump-backed mountains, the festival offers both intimate and large-scale concerts, and international artists such as Manu Chao. Special concerts are even held in a huge natural cave, a short boat ride from the main island.

Tours to the famous Lofoten islands, further north, are also available.

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