The maelstrom of Saltstraumen

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The small Norwegian city of Saltstraumen is located right at the end of one of the most famous tourist roads in Norway which stretches along the coast of Norway and will take you from the southern part of Norway and into the arctic with six ferry trips along the way.

The bridge across Saltstraumen best spot to watch the maelstrom

The small town of Saltstraumen is famous because of its location between two fjord combined with a strong tide creates a maelstroem every six hours when the tide is turning. The tidal currents here at Saltstraumen is one of the strongest in the world and it do create the unique maelstroem.

The maelstroms created by the tidal currents are supposedly up to ten meters in diameter and up to 5 meters deep. But this doesn’t happen all that often – I guess it is mainly seen during the new moon or the full moon when the tidal currents will be at their strongest. Unfortunately we visit pretty much right between the new and full moon – making the tidal current weaker than normal.

So when we go down to see the maelstrom from the large famous bridge across the fjord with the maelstrom it looks a bit dull. There are quite a few tourist coming to observe the phenomena – but the humans isn’t the only ones coming to look at the action. The birds are waiting in the hundreds around Saltstraumen – the maelstrom creates great fishing opportunities when the fish is being hurled around by the water. The birds are not the only ones taking advantage of the current – humans do as well and when you drive into the city you will be seeing shops renting fishing gear if you don’t have your own.

Birds looking for fish at the maelstrom of Saltstraumen

we are staying at a hotel a five minutes’ walk away from the maelstrom – since we didn’t know when exactly the activity would take place we had decided to stay for a night making sure we would see the action without driving back forward to Saltstraumen to see the spectacle.

When we stay there we have the chance to see the action a couple of more times if we want since the first action was seven there will be new action taking place at 1 in the morning and 7 as well. You might think 1 in the morning is too dark to see anything – but this is arctic Norway so during the summer there really isn’t all that much difference between one in the morning and seven in the morning when it comes to lighting.

Maelstrom of Saltstraumen

In the morning it is much different from the evening – not many people have made it up this early in the day so there are only a couple of other visitors seeing the scene and during the night nobody else was down there. So if you want to enjoy a top natural sight with nobody else around you could go for the tidal change which will occur during the night.

In the morning there is a bit of extra entertainment since a family of ducks is swimming around – the parents decide it is a good time to take the ducklings down the fjord just as the tidal current is a their strongest. The small ducklings do not have the strength to swim against the strong current and the family has to give up – instead they go on land walking a bit on the rocks. Unfortunately the rocks are only covering a short distance so the ducks have to return to the water. The ducks try to swim against the current – and the ducklings are struggling. The parents decide it is a good idea to use the wings for a bit and they do fly a little bit while the ducklings try to keep up – obviously they fail in this. They get caught by the current and the parents come back – the duck family is soon back where it started the swim.

Ducks walking across the rock

You might think the mother and father duck would learn from this experience and postpone the swim for a few minutes when the current will have subsided and it would be easy to swim across. But no. the parent ducks decides they have another go at the crossing of the current. One more time they have to give up of the swim for a bit and go back on land and walk for a bit. The ducks walk across the land and go back into the current. Maybe the current is a little weaker now. The ducks do manage to continue their swim downstream without being taken back by the current.

Ducks trying to swim across the maelstrom

The current is getting a little weaker by now so it is time to head back to the hotel for an early breakfast.


  1. What an interesting phenomenon! The name of the place intrigues me too. It seems similar to German, in which it would mean something like ‘Salt Dreams’ – is that so in Norwegian or is it nothing like that?!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well salt is salt in Norwegian as well. But I don’t think straumen means dream. It sound a bit like the nordic word strøm which means current. Maybe the origin of the name comes from here but has been transformed down the road.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I was thinking ‘traumen’ rather than ‘straumen’. The German for salt is Saltz and for dreams is Träume, so Salzträume would be salty dreams or maybe dreams of salt 😆

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yeah – but there is no s in salt in Norwegian – so it wouldn’t really make sense the word should have an added s. I think it is more likely the strøm has been transcirbed into straumen after some years.

        Liked by 2 people

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