Komsa Mountain in Alta

Alta city’s highpoint is Komsa Mountain. It may not compare in height or size with Bergen’s Seven Mountains or Tromsø’s Mount Storsteinen, but it has just as much significance to the thriving little Arctic city.

In good weather, the panorama view is spectacular of the Alta Fjord and the city. The sunsets of the Arctic are wonderful to watch–you really feel on top of the world. Komsa is a special place to view the Midnight Sun and even the Northern Lights as the summit is reachable in the winter.

The mountain has spiritual significance for the Sami people with an old sacrificial stone, dubbed The Medicine Woman where trinkets and valuables were offered up to nature. In 1925, the geologist and archaeologist Anders Nummedal discovered remnants of Stone Age settlements on the mountain. The findings became known as “Komsa culture”. And in 2000, a field of rock carvings were uncovered, consisting of seven figures.

For the locals, the Komsa is a destination for exercise, nature watching, sunbathing, grilling, and picking berries. The mountain has many hiking routes over the top and around to the beaches on either side, as well as skiing tracks in the winter. Even though the mountain has standard tracks, they dodge around rocks, shrubbery and trees giving hikers many options. It is said you can never come down the same way you climbed up Komsa Mountain–but it’s always fun to try.

As with most hiking mountains in Norway, Komsa has a sign-in the guestbook where people from around the world can leave their mark among the local contributors.

Sommarøy

Summer Island is a beautiful little coastal town in Tromsø’s west. It’s one of my most favourite hideaways as the ocean views are spectacular. Because of the coastal weather the panoramas change constantly in colour and atmosphere. Every visit brings a new perspective of the beauty and majesty of Tromsø’s best kept secret.

Sommarøy is linked by bridges, which provides great opportunities to take birds-eye pictures over the waters. The vista is dotted with small islands with mossy grassland and the colours in the sky and the sand beds change the tint of the waters from aqua blues to warm greys.

To the west are the blue mountains of Senja, to the east the mountains of Kvaløya and in the northern waters is the cliff island, Håja.

If you are looking for an ocean adventure then Sommarøy has arctic sea cruises and whale safaris, sea rafting, deep-sea fishing and boating. They also have camping by the shore with caravan patios and a miniature farm for the kids.

A popular activity at the hotel is ice bathing–relaxing in the spa then jumping in the cold ocean–in summer or winter! Apparently it is very invigorating but I am yet to try it. As the town song goes: “We heat the tub with Russian timber, so no trouble with the winter storm. At home you may be used to bubbles, but here you have to make your own…”

It is a nice one-hour drive out to Sommarøy around Kvaløya from Tromsø. There are two ways you can go–the low road (south) which is better for campervans and tourists. This road takes you past ancient rock carvings, Straumen Gård Museum with 18th Century timber houses, and the worlds northernmost rhubarb winery. Or you can take the smaller, winding high road (north) along Kvaløya’s fjords and fishing villages. If you are coming from Senja you can go by car ferry through the islands.

Sommarøy is perfect in the summer where you can enjoy endless sunshine with the Midnight Sun. The island also boasts spectacular Northern Light displays but you have to brave the ice and snow if you want a sighting as Aurora only comes out for the winter. Why not relax in a hot tub while you marvel at the rivers of Northern Lights.

Northern Senja

Senja is the second biggest island in Norway. It is considered a ‘little Norway’ because it has many environments and habitats that are similar to regions all over the mainland.  Here is just a sample of what you can find in the north of Senja.

Scenes from Aursfjord

Aursfjord is a branch of Malangen fjord in Troms. It is a beautiful little drive just 40 minutes south-west of Tennes. Autumn was an amazing time to visit, the trees were definitely giving us their best and the water was a gorgeous blue.

The main attraction is the old saw mill, Aursfjordsaga, which was officially opened in 1799. It was restored from 1977-1982 by one of the descendants of the original owner. An old school building has been moved to the site where you can view a display of old artefacts, browse the local craft shop and top up with coffee and waffles.

Aursfjord was originally a Sami settlement dating back to the late 1500’s. The area was later deserted for a decade before Norwegian farmers settled there around 1660. In 1796 the Aursfjord sawmill was built, but because of a dispute with the landlord and owner of another sawmill nearby the mill was not taken into use until it received a Royal permit in 1799. Unfortunately, the permit did not allow for export of timber out of the Malangen district, but the locals used it diligently.

Aursfjord has an interesting story from criminal history. In the mid-1700’s, a man was murdered by his wife and her brother in the nearby town of Kjervik. The two killers fled to Aursfjord where they were later arrested and sentenced to death. They managed to escape from prison and fled to Sweden, where they were re-arrested and their death sentences were carried through in 1742.

Across the road from the saw mill is a beautiful little fishing river. It has walking tracks that lead into a fairy forest with lots of native treasures to discover. The cliff track takes you along the water and to a small waterfall. Fishing is controlled by permits which need to be bought at the City Council or sporting goods stores but you need to be fast because they quickly sell out.