|... here I am at the North Cape, Finnmark´s northernmost point, the very end of the world!
Wrote the priest and scientist Francesco Negri in his diary in 1664. The trip he took on horseback, by skis and in fishing boats cost plenty of time and patience. But the destination - which he thought of as the most exciting place in the world - was irresistible.
Today, 300 years later, your tour surely took place much faster and more comfortable. The feeling of standing on the North Cape cliff and scanning out across the Arctic Ocean´s endlessness is, as in Signor Negris time, unchangeably fascinating and enchanting. Regardless of the time of year you visit - with the mystical midnight sun, a spectacular thunderstorm or the magical Northern Lights.
In the summer, however, the area is full of reindeer. Each spring in April, six Sami families from Karasjok lead their reindeer approximately 6.000 animals for summer grazing on Magerøya. Some of the reindeer swim across the one kilometre Magerøy sound, or are transported across with the help of the military´s landing barges.
THE NORTH CAPE CLIFF
The plateau on the North Cape cliff, 307 metres above the sea, is Europe´s northernmost corner, at 71°10°21° latitude and 25°47°40° longitude. The impressive and dramatic cliff has long been a navigational marker for seamen.
In 1875, the travel agency Cook in London organised the first group trip - for 24 participants. A new era had begun! In a travel handbook from 1867, a stay in Gjesvær is recommended .... "Accommodation and service at the local shopkeeper is good and cheap - and his governess even entertains by playing the piano!".
It was strenusous to climb up the cliff, and many visitors had to turn back before they reached their final destination because of the weather. One usually had to row from Skarsvåg or Gjesvær to Hornvika a little east of the North Cape and then climb the 307 metres high cliff. In 1892, the first precursor to the current North Cape Hall was built on the plateau, "Stoppenbrinks Champagne Pavillion", a small octagonal wooden building.
Champagne and postcards to friends and family was the reward for the tiring climb. The North Cape municipality built and financed the road between Honningsvåg and the North Cape which was opened in 1956, and thus visitors no longer needed to come equipped with climbing shoes and a climbing staff.
NORTH CAPE HALL
In 1959, the first North Cape Hall was built. It was significantly expanded and improved both in 1988 and 1997. Today the building is a modern tourist facility for all adventurers who find their way up to the North Cape.
The name Magerøya truly reflects the island´s Spartan, exposed vegetation. Nonetheless, for most of the islandÂ´s inhabitants it is a beloved piece of earth. The North Cape municipality´s area consists of Magerøya island and the mainland around the mouth of Porsanger fjord, in all 924 km2. In addition to the municipal centre Honningsvåg, there are 5 fishing villages: Repvåg on the mainland, as well as Nordvågen, Kamøyvær, Gjesvær and Skarsvåg on Magerøya.
Knivskjellodden or Knivskjelodden is the northernmost point on the island of Magerøya. It is sometimes considered the northernmost point of the entire continent of Europe. The nearby Kinnarodden on the Nordkinn is the northernmost point on the mainland.
Knivskjellodden can be reached with a 9 km long hike from a parking spot along the European route E69 highway ( 71.122°N 25.71°E ), 6 km south of North Cape. Although North Cape is popularly known as the northernmost point, it is in fact located about 1,500 metres farther to the south.
The city at the North Cape. Honningsvåg is Norway´s next largest cruise boat harbour (Geiranger), with almost one hundred calls every year. The local Coastal Steamer (Hurtigruta) and other ships call daily. Honningsvåg has also played a role as the last stop before the Arctic Ocean for traffic eastward. The North Cape Museum, which has several interesting exhibitions, is open year-round.
When you leave Honningsvåg 8 km in the direction of the North Cape, you arrive at Skipsfjorden, with the island´s largest hotel and camping site, as well as a Sami cultural centre. The area is well suited for recreational activities with possibilities for mountain trips, boat rental, fishing and deep sea rafting. Skipsfjorden is a recreational area for the local population both summer and winter.
Kamøyvær is located 12 km from Honningsvåg, along the road to the North Cape, at the end of Kamøyfjorden. Today about 150 people live in the fishing village. Fishing families moved here from the weather-exposed coasts along the Arctic Ocean, sea Sami settled down here and from the east came immigrants from the Finnish forests. In nice weather, take a boat excursion to the bird rock at Store Kamøya outside of the fishing village.
In beautiful surroundings 34 km north-west of Honningsvåg, you will find the fishing village of Gjesvær, with approximately 220 inhabitants. It was not until 1976 that a road connected the village with the rest of the island. Gjesværstappan, an island group with one of Northern Norway´s largest bird rocks. The nature reserve Gjesværstappan with puffin, razor-billed auk, kittiwake, gannet, cormorant, guillemot and sea eagle. In the mountains, the dominating bird is the mountain grouse (lagupus mutus). In the summer season, daily bird safaris are organised. It is also possible to spend the night and get something to eat in Gjesvær.
From Skarsvåg, it is 14 km to the North Cape. Skarsvåg with its approximately 170 inhabitants is not just the northernmost town on Magerøya, but also The world´s northernmost fishing village! After a half-hour walk along a marked path, you will arrive at the fascinating mountain formation Kirkeporten. From here, you have a unique view toward the North Cape, which is thought to be a pre-Christian Sami sacrificial site. On the last stage toward the North Cape, you pass by one of the Sami campsites belonging to one of the Sami families who bring their reindeer to Magerøya in the summer to graze.
On the mainland, 22 km from the ferry quay in Kåfjord and 2 km from the E 69 highway, you will find Repvåg. Today, Repvåg is a peaceful, small fishing village with approximately 40 inhabitants. The previously abandoned fish factory has now been elegantly renovated and has become a charming motel that gives you an impression of a bygone era.
Nordvågen, 6 km from Honningsvåg, is with its 500 inhabitants the largest fishing village on the island. From here, you can follow an easy, well-marked trail to the abandoned fishing village of Kjelvik. During the winter, Nordvågen is the best place for winter sports on Magerøy, with a lighted slalom slope and a ski lift.