From Kirkenes we were travelling around the Varanger Fjord, which is about 100 kilometres long, emptying into the Barents Sea where its mouth is about 70 kilometres wide.
The landscape in Varanger is a very different one from the Norwegian fjord-and-mountain thing as it doesn’t have the characteristics of a fjord carved by glaciers. The peninsula of Varangerhalvøya consists of rolling hills with a rocky coastline of cliffs towards the Barents sea and a lower coast of sandy and pebbly beaches towards the Varanger Fjord. Smaller sections of the Varanger Peninsula also have permafrost, the only place in mainland Norway with real tundra. But along the lower, southern coast there are still birch forests. A fascinating landscape!
The Norge was a semi-rigid Italian-built airship that carried out the first verified trip of any kind to the North Pole, an overflight on 12 May 1926. It was also the first aircraft to fly over the polar ice cap between Europe and America. The expedition was the brainchild of polar explorer and expedition leader Roald Amundsen, the airship’s designer and pilot Umberto Nobile and American adventurer and explorer Lincoln Ellsworth.
Nobile also designed and flew the Italia, a second polar airship which also stopped in Vadso. This second expedition ended in a deadly crash and provoked an international rescue effort which saved Nobile and parts of his crew, but in which Amundsen disappeared while flying to the Arctic. They probably crashed in fog at the Barent Sea and their French Latham 47 flying boat never returned.