In between moving from Tromsø to Stavanger a couple of months ago, we spend our summer in the area around Bodø in Nordland county, Northern Norway. While we did some exploring at Mjelle Beach and the city of Bodø itself, summer was mostly spent with work and doing life admin - after all, moving across the country isn't exactly a walk in the park.
When Simon's brother Mats, the full-time reindeer herder of the family, thus asked us to join him on his trip to Sjunkfjorden in Sjunkhatten National Park, I almost said no. Not because a day out in the fjords, getting an insight into the life of a reindeer herder, didn't seem interesting, but because I felt quite overwhelmed by my workload already, and spending an entire day away from the desk wouldn't exactly help.
I did join the trip in the end and am beyond glad for doing so. Turns out, spending a day in the wilderness of Northern Norway doesn't just help when you feel stressed out, but also gives you a lot of inspiration for blog content. Like this story:
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It’s 10.30 am. We had agreed to meet at 10 am to make our way to Sjunkfjorden for repair works at a fence. Well, that's why the boys planned the trip - I was merely joining for the scenery and to take pictures cause I'd be useless at trying to repair anything.
Being a reindeer herder isn’t so much about keeping deadlines, though, and time, in the culture of the Sami, is relative – I learn that quickly. While Mats is trying to get his dog used to wear a cone (he hurt his paw), I have to remind myself that patience is the only thing that helps here. After all, it's already been 2 1/2 hours of me not getting any work done...
With a one hour delay, we’re finally off to the fjord. We pass an abandoned house along the way. The path toward it is overgrown and the house just generally seems to radiate a spooky vibe. It was Mats’ great-aunt’s house and he tells us that she was a lady fond of the latest fashion trends at that time.
When the family cleared out the house after her death, she was spotted sitting in the attic, wearing one of her flamboyant hats...
Mats has more ghost stories on his repertoire and driving through the area - a valley with thick forests, surrounded by mountains, and only a couple of farmhouses spread here and there – it’s easy to understand where those are coming from.
We make our way to Røsvik close to Fauske, where we lower our tiny boat into the water that should take us to the deep end of the fjord. We’ll be driving 18 km – a one hour journey on the open fjord, leading us past cabins, farms and lighthouses with a view of dramatic mountains, and deep, deep, deeper into the fjord.
Life jackets on and off we go.
Mats tells us about all the wildlife in the area, and while I originally joined the trip to see some reindeer, I'll soon have an encounter with the king of the seas. Once we reach Sjunkfjorden, Mats suddenly stops the boat and points to something brown high up in the trees - a sea eagle!
Not a bad place of work at all!
At the end of the fjord then, we finally see what we came for in the first place: a reindeer herd in the woods. Simon and Mats are here to work on a fence that prevents the herd from getting too close to farming land. The reindeer are wild but Sjunkhatten National Park is shared by farmers and reindeer herders, so the herd can't roam quite as freely as they might like to.
While the boys are working, I'm off to take some pictures. Sitting in the forest, trying to adjust my tripod, I hear Pauloksen, the lead reindeer of the herd who wears a bell around his neck, so that Mats is able to find the herd at any time.
I try to be as quiet as possible in the hope to get some close-ups, but Pauloksen is smarter than me. The second he spots me, he turns around - and with him, the entire herd - and walks back into the direction they came from.
I get it - the reindeer aren't used to being disturbed in the wilderness by strangers. There are only a handful people who live in the area year-round, mainly surviving off fishing and raising sheep at the few farms that aren't yet abandoned in the area. There are no roads in Sjunkhatten National Park so no tourist groups come here on excursions, and very few of the locals ever make their way out here.
The few hours of daylight during polar night in winter and temperatures of up to -35 degrees Celsius in the most extreme cases, definitely make Sjunkfjorden one of the most fascinating and wildest places I can imagine visiting in Northern Norway - except Svalbard, of course!
It’s way past lunch-time by now, and we collect firewood for a bonfire. The one hour ride in the open boat in Northern Norway’s summer temperatures of around 10 degrees has made me shiver, and I didn't exactly get my sweat on while taking pictures of the surrounding landscapes.
Relaxing at the bonfire is nonetheless a great way to end our adventure in Sjunkfjorden.
By the time we leave, I have completely forgotten about work - all thanks to the magical wilderness of Northern Norway.
Quick facts about Sjunkfjorden
Sjunkfjorden is a fjord in Sjunkhatten National Park. The fjord itself is 11 km long and surrounded by over 1000-metres high mountains on all three of its sides. A handful people live at the farm in Vassvika year-round, while some others have their holiday cabins nearby.
Overall though, Sjunkfjorden is a wild place, situated deep in the heart of Sjunkhatten National Park, and in the shadow of Sjunkhatten mountain - a mountain reminding of a hat, which actually is considered Norway's 8th most difficult one to climb.
I wouldn't advise you to try, though.
Unfortunately, I don't know of any tour operators who offer trips to Sjunkfjorden. However, you can go on fishing trips and fjord adventures in the area around nearby Bodø. Just check out the website of Visit Bodø for details.
More Information about Bodø and Nordland county
- Where to eat:
Egon on Moloveien for comfort food
- Where to go for drinks:
Kaptein Larsen on Storgata
- Must-see sights in the city:
The Norwegian Aviation Museum, the harbour and all the gorgeous street art
- Other must-see's in the region: Saltstraumen & Kjerringøy
- How to get there:
There are flight connections from Oslo (SAS and Norwegian), Trondheim and Tromsø (SAS and FlyViking), as well as Bergen (Widerøe)
- Where to stay:
Thon Hotel Nordlys
Clarion Collection Hotel Grand
Would you like to experience the fjords of Northern Norway? And what's your secret remedy against stress?
Leave a comment below!
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PS: For more info about visiting Norway, head over to my FAQ page.
More about Bodø and Nordland:
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