Nature Vadsø

Birdwatching in Varanger

Vadsø, just like the region of Varanger in Northern Norway, are well known for birdwatchers across the world. Not only that it is a place where an astonishingly lot of bird species can be found, but it is one of the most accessible Arctic birdwatching destinations. If not the most accessible!

Milder winters

Even if Varanger is well above the Arctic Circle, the winters here are milder than in other regions of the Arctic. This is the reason why some bird species, choose to come here from more northern latitudes for overwintering. Thus, Varanger is perfect for observing these species, which otherwise could be seen only by travelling to the more inaccessible High Arctic.

Smaller distances

Moreover, the Arctic region of the world is “smaller”. As the Earth is somewhat a sphere, the region towards the North Pole is smaller than the regions below the Arctic circle and even smaller than the region covering the Earth’s equator.

North America, Europe and Siberia sort of “meet up” here in the Arctic, thus the distance that birds, which normally live on these continents, need to fly, is shorter.

Exclusive birdwatching destination

Varanger’s climate and natural richness ensure that birds have all the resources and conditions they need when they meet up here during their migration or breeding periods. Birdwatchers not only get to see an exclusive display of bird species in their natural habitat, but they get to see this display in a breathtaking Arctic natural scenery, dominated by the warmth of the Midnight Sun in summer, or by the elusive Northern Lights in winter.

Just take a look at the pictures in the gallery below, to get only an idea of what birdwatchers can enjoy if they visit Vadsø and Varanger!

Where to see the birds across Varanger

In Varanger, there are a number of special, well-known places, where to look for nature’s feathery inhabitants, without interfering with their natural course of life.

The small island of Vadsøya is one such place, due to fact that in the sea area between the island and the mainland the birds can easily find food. The Dammen pond on the island is especially known as being a nesting and feeding place, because of the rich vegetation around, which provides shelter for numerous species of birds. Oyster catchers, red-backed sandpipers, red shanks, ruff sandpipers, tufted ducks or the Arctic terns are just a few of the birds that can be seen here.

Another well-known place is the Ekkerøy nesting cliff, near Vadsø, where you can treat your eyes to kittiwakes and eider ducks, including the King and Steller’s eider, which are known to breed in Alaska and Siberia, but overwinter in Varanger.

Hornøya, near Vardø, is a must for a true birdwatcher, as this is a protected nature reserve where literally hundreds of species live their lives right in front of your eyes: guillemots (including the Brünnich specie that can only be found in the Arctic), puffins, eiders (including Steller’s and King eiders), just to name a few.

The region around Nesseby church is also a natural reserve where birdwatchers can delight themselves with seeing flocks of waders, ducks, geese or gulls, or even birds of prey, such as gyrfalcons or Northern hawk owls!

The region across Berlevåg, Båtsfjord and Kongsfjord in Northern Varanger is also a perfect place if you would like to observe and even study King and Steller’s eiders and some species of falcons from the specially designed hides, from where you can’t interfere with the birds’ natural course of life.

Finally, in the Pasvik Valley in South Varanger, species of typical Siberian birds, as well as owls may be seen.

Rare birds

Varanger is the place where birds, that are rarely seen in Europe, can be observed: cattle egrets, Egyptian vultures, spotted eagles or Ross’s gulls, just to name a few.

Aurora Labs Northern Lights

Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤💚

From the Land of the Northern Lights, Aurora Labs is wishing you lots of love, next to your Valentine! Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤️💚


En cette belle journée de Saint Valentin, Aurora Labs vous souhaite beaucoup d’amour du Pays des Aurores Boréales ! ❤️💚

Aurora Labs Northern Lights

Happy New Year! 🎆

Wishing you an amazing 2021 from the amazing Land of the Northern Lights! 😊🎆🎈🎀🎄🥂✨🎉🦌

Happy New Year! ✨🥂🎀🎈🎆

Aurora Labs Vadsø

Vadsø Sky Lights

During autumn, a typical day here in Vadsø starts with the Sun rising in the morning, just like anywhere else on Earth. But, after just a few hours of daylight, during which beautiful clouds color the heavens in white and greyish shades… it’s time for the Sun to set around noon, in its typical red and yellow sights, making room for the polar blue evenings.

And a short while after that… the amazing night show starts! Northern Lights turn the sky green, and, along with the stars and the Milky Way, they create an outworldly atmosphere, and you can easily imagine you’re… well… somewhere out of this world! Yes, it’s that beautiful!

Just look at my new video and picture yourself here, in the Arctic wilderness, with your head turned up towards the heavens, and just start dreaming!

History Vadsø

The First North Polar Expeditions (Part I)

The Norge Expedition

It was the year 1926. The year when, for the first time, the Arctic Ocean was to be crossed by the first transpolar flight! Continue to read our article and discover the fascinating story of the first explorers to have reached the North Pole! And, best of all, see with your own eyes a veritable piece of this adventure if you decide to visit me here in Vadsø!

Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer, well-known at that time for having crossed the Northwest Passage and for having successfully reached the South Pole a few years earlier, still had a dream – to conquer the great North Pole!

He did not want to give up his lifetime dream so, in May 1925, he had a first attempt to reach the pole from Ny-Ålesund in Svalbard, by using two seaplanes N-24 and N-25. After a first crash landing, and then due to lack of fuel, Amundsen needed to wait a bit more in order to accomplish his dream.

Without hesitation, he started planning his second attempt for reaching the North Pole. This time he decided to use an airship instead of a plane, the main reason being that if a problem occurred in an engine, a plane needed an emergency landing, while an airship could have its engine repaired while still flying! He telegraphed Umberto Nobile – an Italian aeronautical engineer – in which he requested to meet him in Norway in order to propose an airship trip through the Great Arctic! Nobile’s N-1 semi-rigid airship was thus to be modified for cold conditions. And because the Aero Club of Norway was to be the formal owner of the airship, the N-1 was rebaptized ‘Norge‘ (‘Norge’ means ‘Norway’ in Norwegian).

Concerning the financing of the expedition, Lincoln Ellsworth, an American wealthy adventurer, contributed 100.000 dollars and everything over was to be covered by the Aero Club of Norway. The costs included, among others, the buying of the airship, its modifications and also the erection of mooring masts in strategic places where Norge was to pass from Italy to its final point.

Vadsø was chosen as one of this strategic places, thus our small town played an important role in Amundsen’s Arctic adventure! It was the last mainland port for Norge. The airship mast that was constructed here, still stands even today, and its imposing view can be admired on the Vadsøya island from the mainland or during a pleasant walk through the island’s Culture Park.

March 29, 1926 was the day when Norge‘s polar story began, during a ceremony in Ciampino, Italy, when the dirigeable was handed over to the Aero Club of Norway. Lots of people were present, including Amundsen, Nobile and Ellsworth, other expedition participants and even Benito Mussolini – the Italian prime minister – himself!

The flight towards the Great North was initially scheduled to depart on April 6, but, due to strong winds, was delayed to April 10. At 9:25, the magic started! The airship flew to England, where it made its first landing in the Pulham Airship Station, at 15:20.

Bad weather incurred another delay, and Amundsen needed to wait one more day before departing England. On April 12 at 11:45, Norge began its flight towards Oslo, reaching Norway a few hours later.

On April 15 at 01:00, the airship left Oslo and flew to Leningrad in Russia, during an adventurous 17-hour flight through dense fog. In Russia, the Norge needed some maintenance work done and the addition of safety rubber boats, should an emergency occur. The airship remained thus in the shed for more than a week. This time was extended even more because of the weather and also because the airship mast in Ny-Ålesund had not yet been finished, also due to harsh weather conditions in the Arctic at the time.

After a long wait, on May 5 at 09:40, Norge finally left Russia and was directed towards Vadsø in Northern Norway! Here in Vadsø, the mast that was used almost 100 years ago for Norge, is still standing today as a historical monument, and you can see it during a nice, relaxing walk on the town’s island of Vadsøya!

The airship mast on the Vadsøya island, in 2018. The town of Vadsø is located on the mainland, and is visible in the background of this picture.

If you’d like to see the Norge airship moored to the mast in Vadsø on May 6 1926, you can click here to open the website.

The expedition continued from Vadsø, crossed the Barents Sea and reached Ny-Ålesund in Svalbard on May 7 at 06:15.

A few days later, on May 11 at 09:55, the airship left Svalbard to finally reach the North Pole on May 12 at 01:25. This moment, the Norwegian, Italian and American flags were dropped from the dirigible onto the ice.

From here, because of the extreme cold, icy formations grew on the airship’s propellers, and even if pieces would break and fly off, Norge did manage to reach Alaska on May 14, on the other side of the Arctic Ocean, where it was landed.

There are a few claims to have arrived at the North Pole in 1908, 1909 and in 1926 (only a few days before the Norge), but all of these claims are disputed for being inaccurate or even fraudulent. The crew of Norge is thus considered to be the first verified explorers team to have reached the North Pole!

And speaking about Norge‘s crew, it included 16 men, among which there was Roald Amundsen as the expedition leader, Umberto Nobile as the airship’s designer and pilot, and Lincoln Ellsworth. Nobile even brought his little dog Titina, as the expedition’s mascot!

Stay tuned on the Aurora Labs blog to discover the story of a second expedition to the North Pole which passed through Vadsø two years later, but which contains an unexpected turnaround…