Winter
‍Whale Safari

Whale safari – every day
from November 20th to January 2022
from Tromsø - 2 hours to the whales!
Responsible whale watching with whale guarantee

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Winter whale safari from Tromsø

With whale guarantee!

20th of November - January 2022*

We take you on a full day whale safari from Tromsø to the feeding grounds of killer whales (Orcinus orca) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) as they gather in the fjords of Northern Norway for their yearly feast on Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus).

We strive to provide our guests an unforgettable, safe, informative and inspirational day out at sea, while giving wildlife the respect and space they deserve and require. We follow international guidelines for whale watching, and our utmost priority is to do our best to minimise our effect on wildlife.

Location: Tromsø, Norway
Departure:
09:00, please be at the boat approximately 30 minutes before departure
Duration:
 The trips typically last 6-8 hours although this may vary depending on weather conditions or other unforeseen circumstances.
Guiding:
 You will be accompanied by our qualified nature guides during the whole tour. Our guides have firsthand knowledge about the marine wildlife of the area.

Please note: Departure times may be subject to last minute changes due to weather conditions or passenger demand. Full terms and conditions below.

The journey to the feeding grounds takes approximately 2-3 hours, during which you can relax and take in the beauty of the ocean, mountains, fjords and polar night of Northern Norway. You will be taken care of by our friendly and experienced guides, who have many years of first-hand knowledge of the nature and wildlife of Northern Norway. Our guides will be looking out for other wildlife as well, including other cetacean species such as harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) and white-beaked dolphins (Lagenorhynchus albirostris), and birdlife such as all common seagull species, little auk (Alle alle), common eider (Somateria mollissima) and long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis).

We have tea, coffee and biscuits available throughout the whole day, and an option to have a light warm snack on the way back to Tromsø in the afternoon.

Whale Guarantee
Our safari success rate is around 95 %, but occasionally, it happens that we fail to spot any whales (we are dealing with nature, after all). For such rare days, we have a whale guarantee: If we do not see whales, guests who are interested can join another safari free of charge (winter or summer season). In this case, the guests need to contact reception and we will do a rebooking for them.

Our rates include the following:
- Full day whale watching tour
- Multilingual naturalist guide for the duration of the safari
- Light warm lunch snack
- Coffee, tea & biscuits

What to bring
- We have an indoors lounge, but please dress in warm winter clothes. We are 350km north of the Arctic Circle.
- Binoculars
- Camera
- Extra food, snacks, water and soft drinks

Arctic Whale Tours terms and conditions
- Check in begins half an hour before departure
- All passengers need to be at the boat half an hour before departure the latest
- Tours are weather dependent and can be cancelled due to strong wind, rough sea conditions or low visibility
- Minimum number of passengers: 15 (We reserve the right to cancel a departure if there are less than 15 persons on the tour.)
- Length of safari: on average 5-7 hours although this can vary depending on weather conditions or other unforeseen circumstances
- We reserve the right to cancel the tour at any point before departure due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances
- Prices include local taxes

*end of season depends on when the whales leave the area. This varies from year to year, but on average we can expect to be able to operate until at least second week of January.

Rates

Adult (16+): 1500 NOK
Youth (11-15): 1200 NOK
Children (3-10): 900 NOK
Children (0-2): 0 NOK with two accompanying adults

Ask us about group rates!

Our rates include the following

  • Full day whale watching tour
  • Multilingual naturalist guide for the duration of the safari
  • Light warm snack
  • Coffee, tea & biscuits

‍Important information

What to bring:

  • We have seating indoors, but please wear warm winter clothes. We are 350km north of the Arctic Circle in the midst of winter
  • Binoculars if you want
  • Camera, extra memory card and battery
  • Bottle of water, any snacks you might like
  • Sea sickness tablets if you are prone to sea sickness. Sea sickness is not normally a problem on our winter safari due to the speed of the boat and sheltered waters.
  • A smile and a sense of adventure! :)

What we offer:

  • A wildlife friendly approach, always respecting the whales and their space
  • Multilingual, experienced guides
  • Tea, coffee and biscuits
  • Light warm soup lunch
  • Non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages are available for purchase onboard

Arctic Whale Tours terms and conditions

  • Confirm your booking latest the day before the scheduled departure
  • Any cancellations by a customer at least 24 hours in advance will receive a full refund. If cancellation is made less than 24 hours in advance, no refund will be given.
  • Check in begins half an hour before departure
  • Tours are weather dependent and can be cancelled due to strong wind or low visibility
  • Minimum number of passengers: 15 (We reserve the right to cancel a departure if there are less than 15 persons on the tour.)
  • We reserve the right to cancel a trip at any point prior to scheduled departure due to unforeseen weather, or other, circumstances. In case we cancel a trip, the customer will receive a full refund.
  • Any cancellations by Arctic Whale Tours will be notified via email and/or text message
  • Payment either in full online through our booking system, or on the morning of your trip for email/phone bookings
  • Length of safari: in average 5-7 hours although this can vary depending on weather conditions or other unforeseen circumstances
  • Prices include local taxes
  • Trip duration may vary due to weather conditions, and/or location of the whales, therefore Arctic Whale Tours hold no liability for any inconvenience this may cause

The Boat

Our vessel for winter whale watching is Sylvkallen, a 17-metre monohull speed boat. A spacious deck, and a warm indoor lounge with seating make it a great vessel for whale watching. The boat is also available for private charters.

MS Sylvkallen

The whales

The main cetacean species in winter are the killer whale and the humpback whale. The yearly migration of Atlantic herring (or Norwegian spring spawning herring) to their wintering waters off the coast of Northern Norway, brings a congregation of killer whales and humpback whales into the fjords before the herring start their migration southward to their spawning grounds in January.

Killer whale (Orcinus orca)

Spekkhogger, miekkavalas, Schwertwal,

Conservation status: Data deficient

The killer whale, or orca, is a toothed whale, and the largest member of the dolphin family. Killer whales live in tight family groups, with the oldest female being the matriarch and leader. Their diet consists of fish and some groups are also specialised in hunting other marine mammals (eg. whales and seals). Killer whales are found in all of the world’s oceans. In Norway, the best time to see killer whales is in winter, when they follow the spring-spawning herring into the fjords in Northern Norway. We see them regularly in the summer too, but as they travel long distances in the summer in search for food, seeing them is more down to luck than in winter.

Size: males 6-8 metres, 6000kg
Females 5-7  metres, 4000kg

Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Knølhval, ryhävalas, Buckelwal
Conservation status: Least concern

Humpback whales are baleen whales, and known for their long pectoral fins (which can be up to 6 metres long!) and beautiful song the males sing to attract females. Humpback whales are also known for their active behaviour on the surface, with breaching, and fin and tail slapping. They are an infrequent summer visitor to the waters off Vesterålen, and always a special treat to see. The best time to see humpback whales in action is in the winter, when they congregate in the fjords in Northern Norway to feed on spring-spawning herring.

Size: males 13-14 metres, up to 35 tonnes
Females: 15-16 metres, up to 40 tonnes

Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus)

Kvitskjeving, valkokuvedelfiini, Weißseitendelfin
Conservation status: Least concern

Atlantic white-sided dolphin are found across the North Atlantic region.

Size: 2.5-3 metres, 180-230kg

White-beaked dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris)

Kvitnos, valkokuonodelfiina, Weißschnauzendelfin
Conservation status: Least concern

White-beaked dolphins are found across the North Atlantic region. It can be misidentified as the Atlantic white-sided dolphin, but is generally found further north, and lacks yellow streaks on its side.

Size: 2-3 metres, 180-350kg

Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)

Nise, pyöriäinen, Gewöhnlicher Schweinswal
Conservation status: Least concern

The harbour porpoise is one of the smallest marine mammals. They inhabit coastal waters in the Northern Hemisphere. Their global population size is about 700 000, with about 460 000 in habiting the water from Gibraltar to Vestfjorden, Norway. They can often be seen in the fjords and bays from the shore. If you see a small, dark, triangle-shaped fin breaking the water, it’s most likely a harbour porpoise!

Whale watching guidelines

In Norway, we have the privilege of living and working amongst the most magnificent wildlife found in Norway. This also gives us an opportunity to provide our visitors with quality whale watching experiences. However, these opportunities are associated with the responsibility to ensure the welfare of the animals at all times. We have therefore, in close collaboration with WDCS (The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society), established whale watching guidelines to assure best practices for our whale watching. The aims of these guidelines are to minimise the impacts on the animals and for our trained naturalist guides to inform our visitors about the appropriate ways of interacting with marine mammals.

General

  • The whales should always be able to control the nature and duration of their contact with us
  • If whales seem distressed, we leave them alone and slowly depart from the area
  • Mothers with calves, or resting, feeding and/or socialising whales area approached and viewed with extra care and consideration, or left alone
  • In addition to the captain, we always have at least one dedicated observer on duty at all times
  • We never attempt to swim, snorkel, touch or feed whales for our safety and theirs.

Approaching whales

  • We approach the whales from the rear, slightly to the side of the animals
  • We reduce the vessel speed at a 300 – 400 m distance from the whales
  • We never block their path but instead ensure that they always have an escape route.

Viewing whales

  • We stay at a distance of minimum 50 – 100 m from the whales
  • We keep a parallel course with the whales
  • We keep all noise to a minimum and avoid sudden changes in speed or direction
  • When encountering groups of dolphins, we limit our active viewing to ca 15 minutes
  • When encountering sperm whales, we try to limit the encounter to no more than 1-2 dives.

Signs of disturbance in whales

  • Attempts to leave the area or move away from the boat
  • Sudden or regular changes in swimming speed and/or direction
  • Sudden dives, or shallow dives to gain distance from the boat
  • Aggressive behaviour, e.g. tail splashing, flipper slapping, etc.
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Increased diving duration.

Allowing whales to interact with us

The guidelines presented here refer to our active approach towards the whales. Sometimes whales are curious about us and approach our boat. In these situations, we maintain our course with slow steady speed or let the engine run in neutral.

Whale guarantee

Whenever we set out to the sea, we always expect to see whales. However, as our product is based on the nature, it does sometimes happen that we do not succeed. For such rare occasions, we have our whale guarantee: In the unlikely event that we would not be able to see any cetaceans (includes all whale and dolphin species), passengers can join another available whale safari, free of charge. In this case, the guests need to contact the reception and we will do a re-booking for them.

Partners

Visit Vesterålen

Visit Vesterålen

Everything you need to know about Vesterålen.

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Visit Lofoten

Visit Lofoten

Everything you need to know about Lofoten.

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Norwegian Orca Survey

Norwegian Orca Survey

We collect killer whale ID and location data for the Norwegian Orca Survey.

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