01 Mar 2024

Lofoten Islands in Winter - Second Attempt

On our first common winter trip to the Norwegian Lofoten Islands in January 2022 we had had a bit of bad luck with the weather - a lot of storms, rain, slush, snow and ice in motley succession. Time and again we were sitting in our admittedly very comfortable hut drinking coffee and baking yummy waffles instead of exploring the surroundings with our cameras…. That‘s why … and of course because we had enjoyed trip with Jens anyway - Thomas, Hardo and I decided to give the photo workshop in the northern part of Norway with Jens Klettenheimer another try.

Our group of 5 started from Frankfurt Airport on Sunday, January 28th, to Leknes, Lofoten, via Oslo and Bodø. Jens expected us in Leknes, he had had another group before ours. We made it without any delays to Oslo and further on to Bodø. And that’s where our trip ended for the time being. Our flight to Leknes was cancelled on short notice due to heavy gusts, the first forebodings of a really bad hurricane that was predicted for the following Wednesday. We were rebooked to a flight the following morning, then again rebooked to the following afternoon, evening, Tuesday morning, noon, afternoon, evening, until the probable departure date was Wednesday morning. We were stuck in the hotel, couldn’t even go outside most of the time because it was too dangerous. Sitting on my bed on the 8th floor I could tell that the storm was really bad as the curtains and the mirror were swinging on the wall and the window pane was actually bulging inward  with every heavy gust - quite a scary sight to behold of!

Eventually we got the go for Svolvær on Tuesday morning, obviously there wasn’t such a big backload of passengers as to Leknes. Two of our group decided to return to Germany, Thomas, Priyanka and I took the bumpy flight to Svolvær happy to escape the boredom of being locked into a hotel room…Jens came to pick us up and we started our photo tour right away in a drizzling rain knowing that the big storm was yet to come. And so it did. After a short wet trip to Reine Wednesday morning we returned to our comfortable hut close to Leknes in the early afternoon. Hurricane „Ingunn“ was expected to hit Norway in the late afternoon with wind speeds of more than 200 km/h. Our very considerate host brought us extra batteries and a gas cooker and advised us to turn up the heating as much as possible just in case electricity would be gone for hours. He also admonished us not to leave the house… 

So we were sitting inside enjoying a cup of coffee and another round of waffles 🥴🥴🥴 listening to the howling storm and hoping for the best. Actually Jens kept us busy explaining more photo apps, discussing pictures and processing techniques, helped with IT issues, gave me some good advice on my website - and with the waffles, the howling wind outside and the early darkness we felt quite comfortable and protected in our little house. We could hardly see anything outside because the storm had covered all the window panes with a layer of snow. Fortunately electricity was gone only for a couple of minutes time and again. 

Thursdays afternoon 15 o’clock on the stroke we were allowed to go out again. The worst hurricane of the past 30 years was over leaving houses without roofs and lots of fallen trees. However, even then the gusts were still rather strong and it was difficult to drive or walk safely.

 We only went to a nearby beach, took a couple of pictures of some abandoned sheds and were frozen to the bones after a short time, so everybody was happy to go back when it was getting dark.  Fortunately the storm had brought a little snow which had changed the landscape from „depre“ to slightly wintery…

This left us with only 2 (!!!) more days of photography workshop which we exploited as much as possible. The weather changed to definitely winter conditions with daily loads of fresh snow. We were gone from dawn to dusk taking pictures of the numerous picturesque locations. Jens was constantly checking the aurora forecasts but we didn’t have any luck. The northern lights did not dance for us. On Sunday morning we had to say goodbye to Jens and Priyanka; Thomas and I were  just so happy that we could stay longer. Our Norwegian weather experience had taught us to  allow for some extra time this time…My husband had arrived Friday night and the two of us had even two more weeks on our own to travel and photograph these iconic islands.

To avoid long drives in icy conditions, we had booked 4 different “base camps” - pretty little holiday homes in Leknes, on Olenilsøya with a beautiful view to Sakrisøya, close to Haukland Beach and in Henningsvær. We experienced dark moody days as well as bright and sunny days. We had tons of snow and reallly enjoyed this winter wonderland which we haven’t had at home for so many years…so I returned home after three weeks of real winter with loads of beautiful pictures in my heart and on my SD cards…


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