After an early start to make sure we could reach Alta in one day, we encountered thick low cloud for much of the drive, so low it could have been fog in some places. The worst part was after winding our way up to this ridge only to find the visibility was less than 25m – we kid you not! Then came the road works – we felt like we were driving on a narrow bridge (we think it was a ridge but couldn’t see) with no guard rails. Feeling quite disoriented and going slowly, I suddenly saw a red light in the gloom, one of those portable road works ones. Poor Richard – he couldn’t just slam the brakes on with Twiggy behind us. We stopped about 30 plus metres past the light with no way of seeing if anything was coming towards us or what colour the light was. I made a quick trip back past 4-5 vehicles who had done the same thing and tried to ask the people beside the light using sign language to honk their horn when the light changed to green. They were from Germany – no English of course. By the time I got back to the van a stream of traffic was coming towards us out of the cloud with just enough room to get past. We waited and waited – no horn sounded so Richard started moving forward with me going “No not yet” terrified we would meet something head on with nowhere to go and no way to reverse with all the cars behind us. We made it through OK but stressing big time.
It seemed to be our day for road works partly due to a couple of new tunnels being built so a slow trip.
We stopped in Alta for the night and headed off early without Twiggy and trailer for Nordkapp. We had changed our plans around (we were supposed to go fishing at this remote place south west of Alta after a night in Alta then go to Nordkapp but we would have had to do a lot of backtracking and the weather forecast for Nordkapp was good which is a rarity). We had not expected the drive up to be so beautiful but amazing weather always helps.
After being worried that I wouldn’t see any reindeer, we saw them everywhere. They are totally unpredictable and will often run onto the road in front of you then turn and go the other way. Later in the trip we had to follow a large male down the narrow road for about 3 km before he finally either got tired or realised he could go to one side. They have a weird gait at inbetween speeds – a sort of waddling canter. They also hold their snout high when running which looks strange – may be something to do with the weight of the antlers.
We stopped in a small settlement on the mainland before crossing to the island that Nordkapp is situated on. We were looking at Sami handcrafts (mainly reindeer skins) when we came across a guy who was a Sami reindeer herdsman. He was telling us about how he still follows the old ways, but with the benefit of a snowmobile in winter when he moves the reindeer to a settlement a bit further south for 6 months, camping along the way. He was cooking reindeer stew over an open fire inside a cottage set up for meals – if it had been ready we would have stayed to try some.
On our way again and we encountered the 6.8 km under sea tunnel that now links Nordkapp to the mainland, followed by a 4.5 km regular tunnel, all this on a road with not a lot of traffic and most of it in summer.
As we drew closer to Nordkapp, the trees disappeared, replaced by Arctic tundra. The landscape, although barren, was quite dramatic with high cliffs along the coastline. Nordkapp itself has 300 m cliffs straight down to the sea. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we looked down and saw a lone kayaker – brave person!
We finally arrived at Nordkapp – and the car park was full of camper vans! Everyone was doing the same as us and free camping. There were even a few hardy souls in tents pitched on the rocky ground some of whom had arrived by bike. We were so lucky with the weather – a cool breeze but what else do you expect at that latitude – but clear skies which is unusual up there. Lots of tour buses there too which left soon after. We had spoken earlier in the trip to people who had spent 10 plus hours in one day on a bus to visit Nordkapp- not for me. We cracked open a bottle of vintage bubbles to celebrate, all wrapped up in a rug, beanies and thick down jackets. About 10.45 pm we ventured out to watch the sunset, only to find another lot of tour buses and lots of people around – must be the sunset trip. By that time it was really cold.
It was a great feeling to know we had finally made it to Nordkapp – a lot of driving but worth it. It is interesting that we have not come across any people for whom English is a first language on our trip up through Norway, except for the Kiwi couple cycling to Nordkapp, in the campgrounds. We are definitely an oddity, especially towing the car.