There was a crazy power we felt when visiting the Saltstraumen – the noise of so much rushing water, the massive whirlpools, and the sheer beauty of the surroundings ran a dynamic current through our veins.
In order to see this natural wonder in the daylight, we dragged ourselves out of bed just before sunrise, which happens around eleven AM in December (hey – the crack of dawn is a different animal in above-the-Arctic-Circle Norway), and we hopped on bus to the Saltstraumen from Bodø.
When we arrived, we slowly crossed the bridge so we could watch the swirling designs of the wild tide waters rushing through the narrow channel between the Skjerstad and Salten Fjordsfrom from above.
And from the safety of our coach.
Right before our eyes, the force of the bottlenecked seawater formed incredible, massive whirlpools and eddies as the levels desperately seek to equalize.
Incredibly, more than 100 billion gallons of water flows through the two-mile long by five-hundred-foot wide channel in about six hours, at speeds up to 25 miles an hour, forming the world’s strongest maelstrom.
Named “Nature’s Own Bubble Bath,” Saltstraumen’s whirlpools (the locals call them cauldrons) can grow up to over thirty feet in diameter.
WATCH: You’ve got to see the video to get the full idea of the insane speed!
After seeing the power from above, we were a bit intimidated to go in for a closer look – is this even safe?
Our driver pulled the bus off under the bridge and we hiked over the sponge-like terrain to the water’s edge. Clinging to the rocky shore, we could feel the water rushing by as the tide was rising.
When the tide turns and heads back out to sea, there will be a brief time that the straights will be calm as the levels are equal, but quickly the process reverses itself and the water rushes just as fast in the other direction.
The process repeats itself four times a day – a phenomenon we would sadly have to miss as wintertime in the north of Norway only allowed us a four-hour window of daylight.
A flicker of imagining a lazy, full picnic day in the summertime passed through our heads as we scampered over the rocks to get glimpses of everything we could in the cool, blue-silver light.
All of this crazy churning makes the water’s edge a prime feeding spot for fish, and the local fishermen and seagulls know it.
It was quite a show to watch as lines were thrown out into the rushing current and coalfish and cod were reeled in.
Judging from how we were feeling from where we stood, those fish had to be pretty dizzy by the time they made it to the surface!
David and Veronica, GypsyNester.com