Into the Polar Night – Lofoten by RIB Boat: Photography Expedition


Nowadays, many photographers pretend that they are familiar with the landscape of the Lofoten Islands in Arctic Norway. But how is that possible? Almost everyone who goes there sticks to driving on the only road. It seems that few people realise that the most logical way to explore an island is to sail around it ...

The adventure photographer Vlad Donkov, a long-time explorer of Lofoten, has spent more than a year in total on the islands since 2008. Vlad will take you to the locations that others simply don't get to see. Together with a seasoned local skipper, you will sail on a powerful RIB boat. To add to the adventure, we are going to the Lofoten Islands at a time of year when the islands are nearly deserted – the beginning of the polar night!

In 2012, Vlad was appointed by Hasselblad to photograph the island of Moskenes (West Lofoten) for two weeks during the dark time of the year. A short film was made and a series of Vlad’s photographs were published in the prestigious Hasselblad Bulletin. In December 2014, Vlad guided a similar expedition for Vertical Shot Expeditions. This was the first of its kind and was a truly memorable experience. You can read some testimonials from the participants below.

Dates: 05 - 11 December 2016


guesthouse - 6 nights

Group size: max 5 photographers

Spaces available: 1

Total price: 2750 EUR

Deposit: 600 EUR

At this time of the year, there is an increased chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis. You can photograph the stunning landscape at any time – right around the clock – as there is no harsh light at any time. The polar night is an amazing experience in its own right. Most people never fully imagine what it is like to have no sunrises and sunsets – for several hours a day the sun stays just below the horizon and it feels like a very long dusk.

Based in the picturesque town of Reine, we will be exploring the nearby fjords and south coast of Moskenes using a large RIB boat (and a steel boat on one 'day'). On clear nights, we will keep our eyes peeled for more Northern Lights in Reine. Lofoten's trademark in winter is the constantly changing weather; within a period of just thirty minutes, it is quite normal to encounter a snowstorm, hail, rain, clear skies and Aurora Borealis – all that you need for a dramatic shot.


How refreshing to go on a photography expedition that felt like a true adventure. Vlad’s deep knowledge of the fjords of Lofoten was palpable, as we visited location after location only accessible by boat and deserted for the harsh, polar winter. Well organised, well paced, welcoming accommodation, experienced skippers and a talented guide. A trip to Lofoten with Vertical Shot is not one to be forgotten.
— Jonathan Tweed / Into the Polar Night Photography Expedition 2014

Itinerary *

Day 1:

You will arrive in Reine and meet your guides. If you arrive by ferry, we will pick you up by car from the port in Moskenes. Accommodation is at a cosy guesthouse (which we will have to ourselves) – this will be our base for the next week. Chances are that you will have travelled for a full day before getting here, so we will have dinner and go to bed early in order to recharge for the upcoming adventure.

Days 2-6:

On three of the days, we will sail in an open RIB boat, well-dressed in foul-weather suits and lifejackets, and will explore the hidden photographic locations inside the fjords and on the south coast. On one of those days, if the weather allows, we will make a long trip to an abandoned scenic village named Hell. Living there must have been way too hard even for the local fishermen as it was deserted in the late 1940s. Some of the ruins are still standing and it is fully surrounded by sharp peaks and the sea.

On one of the days, we will sail on the small local ferry (on which we will most likely be the only passengers). We will sail into the Reine fjord and dock at a village which is only accessible by boat and has just one permanent resident. From there we can go on a moderate walk (one hour each way) to the massive beach of Bunes on the northern shore of the island. The view in this area makes you wonder whether you have entered into the Lord of the Rings movie set.

Being on the sea every day in winter can be a bit tiring, so in the middle of our stay we will have one full day on land. This will be dedicated to enjoying a short hike by the coast for a several-hours-long photography session.

Decisions about where to go each day will be made on a daily basis in accordance with weather conditions and forecasts. Most of the locations are inside the fjords, where we will be fairly sheltered from the wind and waves (unlike boats on the open sea). However, in the Arctic the weather is our master – more so than anywhere else – and we always respect it. At the same time, we believe that there is no such thing as bad weather for photography, so your guides will make every effort to take you to the best possible locations in light of the current conditions.

Day 7:

After breakfast, it will be time to say goodbye and get used to the thought that you are soon to see the sun for the first time in a week! If you have some time before your departure, you may wish to take a walk around the scenic coast. Either we will drive you to the ferry port in Moskenes, or you can hop on a bus / take a taxi to the town of Leknes and board a flight to the mainland.

* In the interest of everyone's safety, the Vertical Shot Expeditions guides reserve the right to change the itinerary in the case of storms or other unforeseen circumstances.


Please note that this is a photography expedition and not a workshop – you will benefit from guidance from an experienced professional outdoor photographer, but there will be no formal seminars on editing, composition, etc. The expeditions are about being out there at stunning locations and chasing perfect light. In the evenings, we will have sufficient time to talk about photography and adventures in the Arctic.

The 'days' will be short – the daylight only lasts for four to five hours a day. We may have a short glimpse of the sun on the first couple of days, but will probably not see it for the majority of the expedition. Don't worry, though – you will suffer no long term effects from the polar night, as you will not stay in the Arctic for months. 


The area has very dramatic scenery and it would not have been possible to visit all the areas we did without the ground work put in by Vertical Shot Expeditions. Trips on the RIB boat and ferry were calm enough and didn’t cause me any concern. A certain degree of fitness is required but I’m 61 and didn’t have any issues. I would recommend this trip to anyone considering it but you do have to be aware that the terrain is rugged and that it is winter.
— Ian McLachlan / Into the Polar Night Photography Expedition 2014

Fitness level:

Average: You should be able to carry your own camera bag on uneven terrain for four to five hours (with plenty of stops on the way). In general, there are no hard hikes on this programme, as we take you close to the most scenic locations by boat. However, we may sometimes go on a hike up a nearby hill to get a better view of the surrounding landscape.



  • One-to-one photography guidance in the field.

  • Seasoned local RIB boat skipper.

  • Three tours by RIB boat, each lasting four to five hours.

  • Use of foul-weather suits and lifejackets when onboard the RIB boat.

  • A one-day tour to Vinstad and Bunes beach by ferry.

  • Single-room accommodation in a guesthouse.

  • Breakfast, dinner and water/juice (from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 7).

  • Packed lunches.

  • Free WiFi Internet connection in the common room of the guesthouse.

Thank you for a wonderful week in the Lofoten Islands. It was indeed a special experience to visit during the polar night, and made doubly special by your keen sense of the interesting places to go, and where to find the magical shots. Each day was well organised and well thought out and we were very comfortably looked after by Lilian with her warm home and fantastic hospitality. I took a lot of learnings away from the week and found it tremendously motivating.
— David Holberton / Into the Polar Night Photography Expedition 2014


We will be staying at a local guesthouse/hotel run by a wonderful host, Lilian – she and her house have received an award for excellence from Trip Advisor, and once you have stayed at her place you will realise that this award was given for a good reason! Please note that the accommodation is very basic, but extremely cosy. You will have a single room and a shared bathroom. The common room, which has good books, tea and awesome biscuits, is available 24 hours a day.


  • Any flights or overland transportation to/from Reine. (If you arrive by ferry during the day we would gladly pick you up by car from the harbour.)

  • Alcoholic drinks.


Getting to Reine is fairly easy by Arctic standards, and usually takes a day of travelling from most European cities.

You will need to fly to Oslo and then fly (or ride the train) to Bodo, a mid-sized town on the mainland's coast.

From Bodo, you need to travel to Moskenes Island. You can either take the ferry to Moskenes (four hours) or choose the scenic flight to Leknes (20 minutes). Leknes is roughly one hour away from Reine by bus or taxi.

We will be happy to advise you on the best travel options.

Drop us a message and we will let you know when we are running this adventure again: