Monkey see, monkey do.
We went to where the famous nature and travel photographers of Instagram have already been, to Norway's second largest island, Senja. No regrets.
We decided to skip Segla, probably the most famous top in Senja. That being said, I must mention that the first people we saw in Senja were Finnish instagrammers. It was nice to meet the boys and know that we're not the only ones who wish that there would be more showers in Norwegian gas stations.
But Senja. It was – still is – beautiful, fresh and whimsical, what comes to weather.
The place to be in Senja is the west coast, that easily rivals with Lofoten's nature. West coast is where the most dramatic and rugged landscapes are. Lots of beautiful beaches lined with drastic mountains and petite Norwegian-style houses. It seemed that any camper could find hers or his personal piece of shoreline. Roads in western parts are good, though occasionally narrow, and we could easily roll around with our fabulous new van. Senja's inner side, however, has a gentle landscape of rolling hills, and it's less dramatic that west coast, but still beautiful. Ånderdalen National Park is there in the middle.
For showerless campers like us there is a sauna in Hamn i Senja on west coast. It's also a holiday and activity resort from where you can book a room or various activities. Sauna costed 125 kroners per person and is warmed up when requested (warming process takes an hour). We also tried Hamn's waffles and became happy. The sea near Senja is rich in fish and therefore whales like to be around. Whale watching safaris are organised from November until mid January, and must say that I'm interested! I've been on a whale safari once on Canada's east coast, and I cannot forget the experience even if I tried. It was so powerful.
The starting point of my summer 2016's favourite hiking trail starts just across the road of Hamn. Trail to Sukkertop is approximately three kilometres to one way, but don't let the short distance fool you: the last metres to the top were very steep, and only a brave person or native Norwegian can do it. Speaking of Norwegians, according to multiple observations in our social circles, the "easy" trail in Norway can be anything. Last summer our friends took their 1,5 years old baby on a trail that was described as "child-friendly and easily accessible". Well, it was all covered by screes, and difficult even to the parents. But hey, they all made it, so they might have a chance to get Norwegian passport one day!
The Gisund Bridge from the nearest city Finnsnes is the only ferryless option to get to Senja, thus many people use ferries to get there. Ferry connections are good but seasonal, so if you're planning to go there, go when season is on or use the bridge.
To me it seemed that Senja is pushing hard to attract more tourists. There are a few camping areas and some shops and restaurants, but to me Senja was above all a beautiful, genuine place with countless undiscovered hiking trails and sea breeze. Definitely a right place for nature lovers and hikers, but also for us who always want to take it to extreme. I found this competition, and after the descriptive words "probably the most difficult of all" it caught my attention.
So, dear Senja, I think we'll see again. Maybe you have time to show us your big and fishy friends from the sea, but if you don't, I won't be mad. After all, you have sea and never-ending trails for running. That's all I need.
Suom: Päästiin vihdoin Senjalle asti ja kiitos kysymästä, automme ei hajonnut. Senjalle ja varsinkin sen länsirannikolle kannattaa mennä nimenomaan autolla. Teltta mukaan – siellä on maailmanluokan kulmat tehdä leiri.