- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Just west of the North Cape lies the Gjesvaestappen island chain, a designated nature reserve and birdwatcher’s paradise. These hilly, grass-covered islands – of which Storstappen is the largest — are home to some of Norway’s largest colonies of cliff-breeding seabirds, including 100,000 puffins, 10,000 black-legged kittiwakes, and 5,000 razorbills. Great cormorants, European shags, gannets, and thick-billed Murres are among the other nesting birds spotted here, as are predatory white-tailed eagles. While visitors are not allowed to set foot on Storstappen, your Zodiac excursion will take you up close to its puffin-covered cliffs. Witnessing the parade of seabirds overhead with its constant cacophony of cries, flapping wings, and splashing plunge-dives is one of Nature’s great thrills.
The perpendicular cliffs of Nordkapp, or the North Cape, mark the very top of the European continent. This ultimate destination has long drawn adventurous royalty including Oscar II, King of Norway and Sweden, who visited in 1873, and followed by the King of Siam in 1907. The North Cape is located on the island of Mageroey, a name derived from a word that means "meager." While the landscape may have a lunar appearance, it is not really so isolated. Just 21 miles away, the main town, Honningsvåg, has some 4,000 inhabitants. In summer that number swells when the Sami people and their reindeer settle on the outskirts of town.
The looming cliffs of Norway’s North Cape rise directly from the sea 1007 ft/307m to a plateau as flat as a table. This impressive headland has been selected to represent the northernmost point of Europe, even though it is technically located on an island, Magerøya, connected to the mainland by a bridge. At 71° 10’ 20” N latitude, it is just 1,306 mi/2012 km from the North Pole. At this point, the Norwegian Sea, which is part of the Atlantic Ocean, meets the Barents Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean. Further north, the mountainous archipelagoes of Franz Josef Land and Svalbard are the last lands before the Polar Ice Pack. The Midnight Sun does not dip below the horizon here at any time between May 14 and July 31 each year. Sheer and formidable, the North Cape pays its role to the hilt, emphatically declaring itself the end of Europe’s landmass.