A few months ago, I promised you more on my impromptu Arctic road trip this summer. Well, I’d better get on with it, hadn’t I? Today, I wanted to tell you about the Vega Archipelago – or Vegaøyan, as it’s locally known. Now, Vegaøyan is a bit off the beaten track. But I promise you, even the road to get there is worth every minute.
Starting from Mosjøen on the northern train route, my little hire car and I headed south on the E6. 25 km or so after Salmon Falls, a smaller road (Rv 76) goes west towards the little seaside town Brønnøysund.
Almost immediately, I had to pull over just to look. Again and again. In fact, the trip took almost twice as long as it should have – not due to traffic (there wasn’t much), but because of all the stops to take it all in. Photos rarely do nature justice, but here are my attempts at capturing nature along just one little country road, all entirely unfiltered.
The Vega Archipelago
But on to the headline act, the UNESCO-listed Vega Archipelago. Now, Norway overflows with stunning nature. So what makes these islands so special?
Eider, that’s what. Eider is a sea bird, a duck, actually, that lives here in the northern world – not just in Norway, but also in North America and Siberia. You may have heard of eider down, you may even have an eider down duvet (or comforter, for you Americans). If so, I hope it comes from Vega.
I firmly believe our yearning for something comfortable to sleep in – or wear – doesn’t justify cruelty to animals.The act of plucking down and feathers off birds can be quite gruesome. But here at Vega, eider down is harvested in a very sustainable manner, leaving the birds completely unharmed.
Out on the islands, locals build houses for the birds – these little triangular houses, leaving the eider to nest her newborn in peace. Part of the nesting process is shedding her down, to create a soft, comfortable bed for the little ones.
When the ducklings are good and ready to leave the nest, the down is left behind. And this down becomes the inside of your duvet.
The Vega Archipelago comprises more than 6 500 little islands, and is located just south of the Arctic Circle. People have lived here since the Stone Age, mostly living off nature. It’s a rough environment, especially in winter – and it has been a frugal way of life, fishing and eiderdown harvesting. Of course, today, tourism plays an important role as well. The area is excellent for cycling and boating holidays.
Vegaøyan – the Vega Archipelago is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Here are more UNESCO World Heritage sites around the world.