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Lapland in Winter
Alta - North Cape - Karasjok

                 

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24th of February 2002
Car trip, day 3: North Cape - the northernmost point in Europe, you can reach by car.

Before 9 o'clock in the morning be started our tour to the North Cape. Short after we crossed lonesome highlands until we reached again the coast at the village of Russenes. From there we drove along the narrow, winding road to Honningsvåg, the main town of the island of Mageroya, on which the North Cape is situated. Because of this fact, the North Cape is not the northernmost point of Europe ... the North Cape is in fact not on the European mainland and so the northernmost point of Europe is the Nordkinn, East of the North Cape. And to your surprise, the North Cape is also not the northernmost point of this island. The Knivskjelodden peninsula is a little bit more North than the "North Cape". I know that's all very confusing and I think that's the reason, why everyone says, that the North Cape is the northernmost point of Europe ;-)

OK ... at the way to Mageroya we stood suddenly in front of a tunnel, which was closed with a roll bar. We were still thinking what we had to do now, the roll bar automatically opened and we could drive into the tunnel. At the other end of the tunnel we had to play this game another time - time to celebrate the Norwegian technology. We still don't why they make this, but maybe it's against blizzards blowing through the tunnel or against animals searching a warm place to sleep.

Behind the tunnel we had to face the next barrier in form of a boom. Because of snow drifts the road maintenance established a "Kolonnekjøring". This means, that at fixed times a convoy can pass the dangerous road section behind a snow plough. At the boom there is normally a time table and really after some time a snow plough came, and we could continue our trip to the North.

After a while we reached the tunnel which connects the mainland with the island of  Mageroya. Since the Norwegians built this tunnel, you can really say, that the North Cape is the northernmost point of Europe, reachable by car. Before there was only a ferry connection to Mageroya. We paid the fee of 223 Norwegian crowns (for one direction) and were now not anymore on the European mainland.

The street to Skarsvågen, the northernmost reachable place of Europe on this day (by car) was a real challenge. In spite of our spike tires and our Alpine driving experiences, we had big difficulties to reach this small fishing village. Later some people told us, that this was the first day, the road was open for one week! Before it was only possible to reach Skarsvågen by snowmobile.

Arrived at Skarsvågen, we were looking for a possibility to go to the North Cape. Alois found a man with a snow mobile and he asked him to bring us to the North Cape, in order to avoid a long walk. For "only" 1000 NOK the owner of the fish factory agreed.

After a 20 minute trip we reached the North Cape Centre, which was - to our surprise - also open, because short before a bus of the Hurtigruten (a famous Norwegian cruise) visited the Centre. So we had also the chance to go for free into the North Cape Centre. But the most fascinating thing is the North Cape cliff, which falls 300m vertical into the Norwegian Sea. So we stood alone at this beautiful cliff and enjoyed the silence and in the meantime whales were passing by in the sea below us. We reached our target in visiting the North Cape in winter!

Back at Skarsvågen, we drove as fast as possible to the convoy section, in order not to miss the snow plough. Until Lakselv, the road was very winding, but after Lakselv the road was getting more wider and more straight. So we drove with 100km/h trough snow and ice to Karasjok, where we had reserved a place in the youth hostel.

The youth hostel was a real surprise. The owner (world champion in dog sledding) was building every two years a small blockhouse in his forest and rented this huts. I never slept in such a nice hut, where everything is self made and for sure, I could have stayed there for many days, if I would had been more time.

  


At a high plateau North of Alta.

Photo: Alois Holzer

 

At the way to Mageroya - the island of the North Cape.
 

Convoy traffic - waiting for the snow plough.
 

...
 

Crossing to the North Cape - further to the North we could not drive by car.
 

The owner of the fish factory brings us to the North Cape.

Photo: Alois Holzer

 

Through snow plains further to the North.

Photo: Alois Holzer

 

The North Cape Centre appears.
 

The North Cape monument at the pretended northernmost rock of Europe.
 

The North Cape.
 

Arrived at Karasjok, we rented a small hut.
 

The interior of the hut: lamps made of feathers, tables made of natural rock, coat hooks made of antlers.
 

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