Norway's Lofoten Islands

Mountains, Seascapes & Aurora Borealis

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The Lofoten archipelago stretches westward into the North Atlantic—draped in winter like a snowy string of pearls across Norway's northwestern shoulder. Caressed by the swirling warmer water of the Gulf Stream, this land of the Vikings is significantly more temperate than much of northern Europe, bestowed with a mild, yet snowy, winter climate.
"A great tour in a beautiful place with the quality you always expect of a Van Os Photo Safaris tour "
- —B. Thompson
This trip can be combined with our Norway's Senja Island in Winter Photo Tour.

Picture-postcard fishing villages nestled between deep fjords and serrate maritime mountains combine to form awe inspiring and photogenic scenery—the islands are considered by many to be the most beautiful setting in Norway. Located well above the Arctic Circle at 68°N, these high-latitude islands are a visual masterpiece, often bathed in low, soft and "magic" arctic twilight.

Much of Lofoten is comprised of some of the oldest rock formations known. These so-called "primeval rocks" are the remnants of a once enormous 3-billion-year-old plateau. Yet the islands' "younger" sharp-peaked "alpine" mountains are high enough that geologists believe they were not covered with ice during the glaciated periods of the Pleistocene—its last ice age ending between 10,000 and 14,000 years ago. It is these ragged mountains, jutting dramatically from the sea, that rank high among our photography targets.

Traveling between three photo hubs—Reine, Leknes and Svolvær—our February sojourn starts in the westward islands and travels east towards the sunrise. During the time of our trip, the winter day length increases and provides good opportunities for daylight landscapes, yet the nights are still long, dark and free of light pollution—delivering excellent prospects for absolutely stunning images of aurora borealis.

The Lofoten Islands rank among the top locations in the world to see and photograph intense aurora borealis—and no one will argue there is any place more beautiful for aurora photography! Towering snow-clad mountains, ice-choked beaches, hoar-frosted trees, and cozy fishing villages—with warm cabin lights glowing like burning embers—create a sensational foreground for the spectacular display of northern lights above. In "olden times," local fishermen believed the flickering northern lights were large shoals of herring reflecting from the sea.

We reside in hotels as well as comfy traditional fishermen's "rorbuer" cabins—each with two bedrooms, an "open concept" living room/kitchen, and an occasional shared bath for an authentic Lofoten experience. We sample traditional Norwegian cuisine (seafood a specialty, of course) and get a taste of the quiet life in these iconic villages.

Don't delay in enrolling in this exceptional landscape photo safari. Expect to work hard.  Up very early for breakfast to be in a great position for the sunrise and then out at night to be in a prime location for the aurora after dinner. We follow the ever-changing winter light from the sun's first glow on jagged snow-clad peaks rising directly out of the sea until the lights of cozy fishing villages reflect in quiet harbors under the dancing aurora.

Check out Joe Van Os' trip report from our previous Lofoten photo tour
For trip questions or to enroll give us a call at (206) 463-5383

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 (Feb 15, 2024)

Depart home. Participants arrive at Harstad/Narvik Airport, Evenes, Norway. Depending on your flight schedule from home it may be possible to fly to Evenes in one very long day. However, it is recommended to fly to Oslo, Norway, on February 14 and spend the night at an airport hotel. Then fly to Evenes on the morning of February 15. Van transfer or pre-arranged taxi service is available for the short distance from the airport to the hotel at Evenes. (D)

Days 2–4

Following breakfast we load our vans and head west towards Reine—a tiny, and picturesque fiskevær (fishing hamlet) located on the southern shore of Moskenesøya (Moskenes Island). The village population of 300 makes its living from the sea catching cod, haddock, halibut, pollack and coalfish.

Aurora borealis in Lofoten, NorwayFrom our base in Reine we explore several breathtaking areas on Moskenesøya which afford a wide variety of seascape, mountain and village photo opportunities. Here we hope to capture images of aurora borealis over the village and the iconic triangular peak of Olstinden mountain rising steeply behind it. Besides Reine, we visit the unusually named one-letter village of Å ("Small River") situated between a dramatic rocky coastline and menacing, sheer-walled mountains. Other photogenic locations include the expansive Flakstad area with broad, mountain-reflecting marshlands and unspoiled beaches, the wintry landscapes of Fredvang, and the idyllic 19th-century fiskevær of Nusfjord. The fishing hamlet of Nusfjord is a living museum—considered to be one of the best preserved fiskeværs in Norway—and is now classified as a UNESCO-protected site.

Moskenesøya played a pivotal role in World War II. Early in the war the island was occupied by the German Army. In December 1941 a British commando raid supported by British, Norwegian and Polish navy ships destroyed two land-based German radio transmitters. More importantly, several German patrol ships were sunk during the operation prompting the salvage of an operational Enigma coding machine—allowing the allies to crack German codes—hastening the end of the war! (BLD)

Days 5–7

We drive to Leknes, the trading and commercial center of the Lofoten Islands—only rivaled by Svolvær. During the summer months, the town's harbor, Leknes Havn, is one of Norway's most important and most-visited tourist harbors for cruise ships—but it's very quiet in winter! The "vibe" here is very different from little Reine as the village population is more than ten times larger. Residing in the Leknes "suburbs," our focus is a fantastic stretch of beaches on the western side of Vestvågøya (Vestvag Island).

Fishing village in Lofoten, NorwayUtakleiv Beach features black wave-sculpted stones on an out-of-the-way beach and colorful rock-bound tide pools against a backdrop of craggy maritime peaks—and a very good location for shooting the aurora borealis, too! Haukland Beach voted one of the five most beautiful beaches in Norway, and Vareid—a wonderful spot for seascapes with a great view towards the jagged mountains of Flakstad. In Unstad—most famous for being the number one spot for surfers in Lofoten—there is always someone crazy riding the Arctic swells—even in winter! Scenic Valberg is a premier location for sunrise on the eastern side of the island—our choices are endless. (BLD)

Day 8
After nearly a full day of shooting, we load our vans and return to our hotel in Evenes in time for our farewell dinner. (BLD)

Day 9 (Feb 23, 2024)

Following breakfast, participants leave for home or continue ahead with our Senja tour. (B)

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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Norway's Lofoten Islands

Feb 15, 2024 - Feb 23, 2024

A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.


All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposits we accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Final payment of the trip fee is due 120 days prior to departure and may be paid by check or bank transfer. If you wish to make your final payment with a credit card a 3% convenience fee will be charged.

We must receive written notice of your cancellation. Based on the cancellation date the following apply:

Trip deposits are non-refundable.
150-91 days before the trip start date: We will refund any payments made exceeding 50% of the total trip cost.
90-61 days before the trip start date: We will refund any payments made exceeding 75% of the total trip cost.
Within 60 days of the start of the trip: No refund.

If, on the trip start date, your space has been resold and the tour is full—as designated by “Limit” number of travelers on the tour website page—we will refund your payment, minus the non-refundable trip deposit and any discounts given to resell your space.
No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

We strongly encourage you to protect your travel investment and purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. We can provide travel insurance options, or it can be purchased online. A CANCEL FOR ANY REASON policy is available. Trip participants without travel protection insurance are considered “self-insured.” Without insurance you assume all risks and losses for any conditions requiring your cancellation.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you, or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health, including viral illnesses, occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, and applicable health advisories. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or email address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or email messages to

Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific details that are included in your trip fee. Generally, these include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch, or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, internal tour air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages, and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry, or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Most of our trips are priced in double occupancy (shared) accommodations. Single accommodation is available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodation or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations, and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins, or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea is included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks, as well as alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two people traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger (trip participant) in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motor coach, automobile, van, boat, ship or aircraft or any other conveyance, and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts, bankruptcy or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay, cancellations or changes in flights or other tour services, and by force majeure including sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine, epidemics, pandemics and outbreaks, or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in flight schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure due to low enrollment, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non -refundable air tickets, visa fees, travel insurance premiums and medical related expenses; 3) At the company’s sole discretion, suspend or postpone any trip due to force majeure or disease outbreak in which case the trip may be rescheduled, or a refund issued less any non-refundable deposits paid to tour component providers on behalf of the passenger, or a travel credit given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 4) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 5) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A signed Registration Form with the Enrollment Conditions and Release and Assumption of Risk sections must be returned by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington.

I have read, understand, and agree to the terms, conditions, and provisions of the enrollment information, as stated on the Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris website and the Enrollment Conditions section of this form, especially noting the policy on cancellations, refunds, and limitations on responsibility.

I am aware that during any trip or tour that I am voluntarily participating in under the arrangements of Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., a Washington corporation, and its employees, agents and associates, certain risks and dangers exist while traveling in the United States, foreign countries, and wilderness areas in any country or territory that include the possibility of property damage, bodily injury, and death. There is a possibility of accident or illness occurring without access to immediate or timely medical treatment or facilities. There is a risk of tropical or communicable diseases that may require quarantine and removal from the tour at my expense, food-related illnesses, the risk of personal injury and property damage or delay or inconvenience by forces of nature, wildlife or wildlife models, quarantine, political instability, acts of terrorism, strikes, government restrictions or regulations change, thefts, and the risk of accidents during travel while on foot or by aircraft, train, automobile, van, bus, boat, ship, or other conveyance. I understand that such risks cannot be eliminated without jeopardizing the essential qualities of this trip or tour. In consideration of, and as part payment for the right to participate in such trips, tours and/or other activities and services arranged for me by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, agents and associates, I have and do hereby assume all risks, and hereby release Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, shareholders, agents and associates, and will hold them harmless from any and all liability, actions, causes of actions, debts, claims, and demands of every kind and nature, howsoever caused, which I now have or which may arise of or in connection with any of my trips or tours and participation in any activities arranged for me by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, agents and associates.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf, be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this Agreement, I agree to indemnify them and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, I agree to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington and further agree that the substantive law of that state shall apply in that action without regard to the conflict-of-law rules of that state. The terms hereof shall serve as a release and assumption of all risk for myself, my heirs, executors, and administrators, and for all members of my family.

If any part, article, paragraph, sentence, or clause of this Agreement is not enforceable, the affected provision shall be curtailed and limited only to the extent necessary to bring it within the requirements of the law, and the remainder of the Agreement shall continue in full force and effect.

I acknowledge that if anyone is hurt or property is damaged during my participation in this activity, I may be found by a court of law to have waived my right to maintain a lawsuit against Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, shareholders, agents, and associates, based on any and all claims from which I have released them.

Norway's Lofoten Islands: Moderate Activity Level

Van Travel. Expect cold and wintry conditions throughout the trip. Insulated knee-high waterproof boots are a necessity—we recommend Muck Boots (brand) Arctic (model) to keep feet warm and dry. Optional photography by standing in shallow water and breaking waves on beaches and rocky shores. Expect icy, slippery conditions throughout the tour and micro spikes are recommended.
Trip Details
Feb 15 - Feb 23, 2024
Fee: $7,495 from Evenes, Norway
Deposit: $2,000
Limit: 12 participants
Activity Level: ModerateModerate

Single Supplement: $82 in Evenes Hotel Only. For the remainder of the trip we reside in traditional cabins, each with a central livingroom, kitchen and bath. There are two bedrooms in each cabin and each is occupied by only two travelers--either as couples, or two friends traveling together, or by two people of the same gender, each traveler in a separate cabin bedroom.
  • Perhaps the most picturesque location in the world to photograph aurora borealis
  • Trip timed for optimum aurora activity, weather permitting
  • Create images of picture-postcard fishing villages juxtaposed with towering granite mountains
  • Shoot expansive raw and unspoiled seascapes
  • Trip includes all meals, lodging, ground transportation, entrance fees, photo guides and instruction
Tour Leaders
Todd W. Pierce

Todd W. Pierce

And local photography leader
I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Lofoten Islands. Todd and Chris and the Van Os staff made it possible. Thank you!! 
—S. Locke

Todd and Christian were great guides. They took the time to work with us on photography and listen to our comments about the trip and answer our questions. I would not hesitate to travel with the. 
—S. Zakem

Well, of course, Joe always puts together excellent trips. This trip only exceeded by expectations because we were able to view the Aurora three times. Fantastic. Excellent leadership, lodging and meals. 
—C. Hoffecker