Friday Photo #134 – Unstad Beach

Mountain view over Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Summer light over Unstad, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 7, 2015. 21:27

Clouds and frequent rain showers had been passing the Islands all day. But finally by evening, the sky seemed to be clearing enough for me to venture out to the hills.

My objective was a small mountain above Unstad, but not knowing where/if there was an actual route to the summit, I picked what looked like the most obvious way, a steep grassy hillside full of grazing sheep with a small creek running down the middle. Progress was slow as the wet grass was slippery and inconsistent, often with rocks buried beneath.

About halfway to the ridge I was trying to reach, I realized the light would be gone before I arrived. So I traversed over a steep slope and out onto some cliffs where I could get a nice view of Unstad, with the low evening sun shining across the village. The shadows of the clouds were racing across the land. giving depth to the scene. I would have liked to have been on top of the mountain, but I’m happy with the results here.

Camera Info:
Nikon D810
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
ISO 250
f 8
1/320 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #133 – Offersoykammen Midnight Sun

MIdnight sun view over coastal landscape from summit of Offersøykammen mountain peak, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Midnight sun from Offersøykammen, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 7, 2015. 00:45

The good thing about summer on Lofoten is that even if you get a late start, the sun will still be around. I started the evening unsuccessfully trying to make my way to a trail-less summit near Unstad. As it became apparent that the light I was after wasn’t going to wait until I reached the top, I headed down and proceeded to make other plans as my soaked shoes where drying in the car’s heater.

With a couple options available, I chose Offersøykammen, pulling into the parking lot just after 23:00. Loaded down with camera gear, I sprinted my way towards the summit, ascending the 400 meters in just over 30 minutes – completely soaked in sweat, despite the cold temperatures.

The direct light had faded as the sun moved behind the clouds, so I set up a time-lapse with my Fuji xt-1, then set about wandering around the summit looking for other compositions. This photo was taken a bit before 01:00, as the sun was reaching its lowest point in the sky, after this, sunrise would begin…

Camera Info:
Nikon D810
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
ISO 200
f 8
1/60 second
WB Daylight

Interview with Henning Of Arctic Campers


The following is an interview with Henning Leible, co-founder and owner of Arctic Campers, a camper van rental agency based on the Lofoten Islands.

Arctic Campers is based out of Ramberg, Flakstadøy. For more information, bookings, and rental rates – visit their website:

Hey Henning, tell us a bit about your background.

I was working in the film business in Berlin for almost a decade, when I decided to trade urban life for the amazing nature of Northern Norway. I sold all my belongings and my business in Germany, fixed my VW Camper bus for some serious winter action and drove in February 2011 all the way up to Tromsø. The best decision I have every made. I think in the first year I have seen every mountain top of the Tromsø area. You step out of the door and you realize you are standing in a frame of a postcard. Snowy mountains, Northern Lights, clear water, and amazing fresh air, it was a big improvement of life quality for me.

How did you end up on Lofoten?

Well, the nature of Lofoten dragged me down here. I have been in Lofoten many times as a tourist and thought one day I would like to spend some more time here. I found an affordable house to buy on the Flakstad Island and I moved down here with my girlfriend. It’s been three years since we moved here and the nature of Lofoten is still hitting on me.

You run Friisgården cafe and guesthouse, how did that come about?

Friisgården is an absolute unique place in the West of Lofoten. It is a 250 year old building restored by a foundation in the old style. When the previous owner decided to stop running the guesthouse, my girlfriend was happy to take over. She is running the place and I am helping her with the kitchen and finances. Friisgården has three guest rooms and a small kitchen, so it is nothing you can support a family with but it is big fun running it.

How long have you been running Arctic Campers and what was your initial inspiration?

Arctic Campers is brand new, my best friend Mike and I started to convert the first car to a camper in 2014. We managed to rent the first camper out in March 2015 to a Swiss Northern Lights photographer here in Lofoten. When he returned the camper, he was very happy with it and we realized that our concept for the car worked out. That was pretty exciting and we converted the next car.

The idea for Arctic Campers came to us while drinking some beers in front of Friisgården. We have been bored of all these big RVs passing by and becoming an ugly piece in the Lofoten landscape. Space ships invading Lofoten, some of them looked like the Death Star from Star Wars. We thought there should be alternatives to those RVs, something that lets you fly under the radar but still travel independently and comfortably in the North of Norway.

We started to develop a Mini Camper concept containing everything you need for a smooth ride in the polar region.

How many camper vans do you have at the moment? Can you tell me a bit about them?

We have 5 campers. They are all out at the moment exploring the Islands, with some people even driving up to the North Cape and Kirkenes, close to the Russian border.
We worked for several weeks on the Arctic Camper prototype until we were satisfied with our concept. We ended up converting a VW Caddy Maxi. We equipped the camper with a camping kitchen (2 flame stove, fridge and water sink), a fixed bed with a real mattress (1.2m x 2m), 4G Wifi and a diesel heater. Every camper has an extra battery and USB ports, so you can charge phones, tablets and cameras. The feedback we are getting from our rental guests tells us, we have done a good job. That’s great and we are definitely getting some more campers for next year.

As some of my readers might know, I started my travel career in 2005 while living in a camper van in New Zealand, which was one of the most popular ways for tourists to travel around the country. But in Norway, it doesn’t seem to have caught on yet. Any thoughts?

You are right; Norway’s lonely nature and the freedom to roam are the best factors for travelling in a camper totally independently. I am not sure why nobody started with such concept up here. Maybe the high costs for buying cars in Norway is a reason. We are both big outdoors and camping enthusiasts; I was living some time in the back of an old Opel Combo when I was studying in London. When I moved to Norway I bought a Hyundai H-1 and built a simple camper concept into the back for myself. Mike also started his Mini Camper carrier with an old Nissan Urvan converted to camper. He spent in that car more nights a year as in his flat. I think you need to be into this lifestyle, to set up such a company so far north.

What difficulties have you faced in your first year of operation? Getting the word out?

No, getting the word out was actually pretty easy. The Norwegian Air magazine wrote about our concept and also local newspapers. The real challenge up here is definitely the supply of quality parts and equipment for converting the car to a camper. We are used to Germany, where you have several shops and suppliers and you can choose. Here we have to organize transportation from Oslo, or even Germany, when we want quality parts. Of course we get also some stuff in Leknes or Svolvær but unfortunately not everything.

Also converting a camper gives you new challenges. For example, recently I learned how to sew – because a camper cruising in the land of the midnight sun needs defiantly some curtains.

You are also cooperating with several other local travel companies…

Yes! We are a small group of entrepreneurs here in Lofoten working together very closely. We are sharing an office in Ramberg with some of them. Our Arctic Campers guests are getting discounts, for example at the surfer’s place Unstad Camping, or going birding with Lofoten Birding. At the moment we are establishing more cooperation with companies all along the way to the east of Finnmark.

For those not able to visit Lofoten in summer, are you operating year round?

Yes, all year around. I don’t have to tell you – how special Lofoten is in the off-season. First of all, you are almost alone here with the nature, the light is super special and the Lofoten people are suddenly more relaxed because all the mass tourism of the summer is gone. You can also see the Northern Lights. The camper is giving you the opportunity to follow the good weather and the chance to see the Aurora Borealis without any clouds in front increases dramatically.

The Gulf Stream gives us pretty mild winters. So our Mini Camper can be used also in spring, winter and autumn. Of course going with a camper in the off-season is a bit tougher than in the summer months, but you are coming here for seeking an adventure, right?  You are not coming to the Arctic to visit a petting zoo.

Can you promise me I won’t freeze to death in winter?

I promise! Every camper has a Webasto 2 Kilowatt diesel heater. It is heating up the back of the car in just several minutes and will keep you warm until you are ready to go out chasing the Northern Lights or hike over to Kvalvika. I was in March with one of the campers for two nights in Utakleiv. I took my 1,5 year old daughter with me. Outside we had some minus temperatures and a bit of a storm, but my daughter was playing in the bed just wearing a diaper. The diesel heater kept the camper perfectly warm and did a great job. Since then we like to call the cars Arctic Pampers ;).

Thanks for the interview. Any last thoughts?

At the moment we have a lot of work with the summer season, but when we have more time, we will do some more planning for next year. We are about to open an Arctic Campers office in Tromsø and also in Alta. So you can do one-way rentals or start your arctic expedition even more north then 68 degrees.
thanks for letting the people know that Arctic Campers is out there. Keep up the good work with!


Arctic Campers Lofoten Islands

Photo: My van in action on the north coast of Austvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 2015

Disclosure: I was given a moderate discount for the week I rented my van. I will also cooperate with Arctic Campers on projects in the future.


New Lofoten Photo Workshop Winter 2016

Haukland beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway

I’m super happy to announce that I will be hosting my own photo workshop on Lofoten this winter: February 14 – 21, 2016.

You can find more info about the workshop here: Exploring Lofoten – Winter Photo Workshop 2016

Guiding my own workshops on Lofoten has been a long time dream of mine – you can see the business plan I wrote back in 2011, but until now I was never able to cover all the legal aspects of running a workshop to keep everything legitimate as it needs to be. However, now that I’ve been able to obtain residency in Germany, as well as teaming up with a local business on Lofoten, things can finally get underway.

And if you sign up to my email list by August, there is a substantial early bird discount for the workshop 🙂

Friday Photo #132 – Unstad Midnight Sun

Midnight sun over Unstad beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Waiting for midnight over Unstad, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 5, 2015. 23:28

I addition to a few last photos from my Seasons on Lofoten – Summer eBook, I was also already planing one of the next books, about the beaches of Lofoten. But beyond merely capturing the beaches from sea level, I was also looking to photograph them from above. Unstad beach was the 2nd hike I made, up to the summit of Nonstind.

I started the evening much earlier, with some nice evening light shining in over the bay. But as time passed, I was quite ready to leave the mountain yet, so I headed up a bit further. Somewhere along the ridge there was this nice overlook, which I reached just as the sun emerged for a few minutes from the otherwise mostly cloudy sky.

Camera Info:
Nikon D810
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
ISO 100
f 9
1/100 second
WB Dayligh

Friday Photo #131 – Myrland Summer

Myrland, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Midnight light and summer fields, Myrland, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. June 6, 2015. 23:56

Sleep in near impossible for a photographer on Lofoten in Summer, more so if the light is good. After a couple consecutive days in the mountains, I was feeling a bit lazy and looking for something coastal to photograph.

I had been out to Myrland earlier in the evening, with some nice light on this field and barn – which is the shot that is the cover of my Seasons on Lofoten – Summer eBook. After that, I drove back down the road to Storsandnes and found a place to park for the night.  But as I finished dinner and the hours passes, I wasn’t content with the scene in front of me, the sea just wasn’t calm or stormy enough. Before heading off the another beach, I decided just to checkout Myrland one last time. The light was better than before!

I arrived a few minutes before midnight, as the sun was breaking through some clouds. The mountains had a wonderful warm light shining on them and the wind was still quite calm.  I knelt down in the field just on the edges of the flowers and got completely wet from the soggy ground, but no matter when the light is nice.

Normally I don’t photograph such rural scenes very often, but somehow, this photo says ’summer on Lofoten’ to me and is one of my favorite images from this past trip.

Camera Info:
Nikon D810
Nikon 70-200mm f/4
ISO 250
f 5
1/125 second
WB Daylight

New Lofoten Travel Guides

Nonstind hiking guide Lofoten Islands

Photo: View over Unstad beach from Nonstind, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

With summer now in full swing, I’ve been busy writing new guides for everyone heading to Lofoten in the next few months.

This weeks updates are:

Nonstind – Mountain hiking guide. A 483 meter peak with fantastic views over Unstad beach.

Mountain huts guide. A brief overview to the mountain huts found on Lofoten

Hiking guide. An into for those hiking for the first time on Lofoten. Expect steep trails, but fantastic views.

If you guys are finding this more general travel information useful, please let me know! As it takes a lot of time of research and write everything…

2 New Mountain Hiking Guides

Mannen, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Enjoying the view from the summit of Mannen, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

It’s a bonus day today, with 2 new mountain hikes added to the site.

Mannen – 400 m, Vestvågøy.  Best known for its fantastic views over Haukland beach. This is a good destination for summer.

Festvågtind – 541 m, Austvågøy. Rising above Henningsvaer, this moderate peaks provides fantastic views over the village and islands below

festvagtinden, lofoten islands, Norway

Photo: View over Henningsvaer from the summit of Festvågtind, Austvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Friday Photo #130 – Hustind Winter

Hustind Winter Hike, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Climbing Hustind in winter, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  February 21, 2015.  13:18

Hustind is one of those peaks that I’ve driven by dozens of times, always thinking I need to hike it sometime, yet always pass it by for some other objective.  Finally, on a stormy February day after my friend Till joined me from Norway, we figured the peak would be a good warmup for things to come.

As we ascended towards the summit, we were under constant threat of the next wave of snow approaching from the south.  The higher we got, the closer the clouds.  But even then, a faint sun would break through from time to time, adding a bit of contrast to the otherwise cold and barren landscape.

One on the summit, the snow arrived within a few minutes and we had to descent in a near total whiteout, luckily with our footprints to follow…

Camera Info:
Nikon D810
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
ISO 250
f 8
1/500 second
WB Daylight