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A King Crab Safari in Kirkenes, Norway

A King Crab Safari in Kirkenes, Norway

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Costco sells 10 pounds of Alaskan king crab for $269. Either order, allegedly plucked by daring fisherman from the icy waters of the North Pacific, can be shipped straight to your home within a day or two.

But if you’re like me and prefer eating locally, you can head to Kirkenes, Norway, a remote outpost located 250 miles above the Arctic Circle, and catch your own.

A couple weeks ago, I took a Hurtigruten ship from Bergen, Norway, to its terminus in Kirkenes. Perched on the edge of the Siberian Taiga and just nine miles from the Russian border, Kirkenes is home to a motley collection of about 4,000 Sami people, Russians, oil prospectors, and immigrants who come to work the iron mines.

I was there to mark an item off my bucket list: a ringside seat to the Northern Lights. But while there, I figured I might as well check out the local fauna, which includes wolverines, bears, and the Arctic king crab, which quite regularly grow to six feet from claw to claw — a vise-like appendage known to remove human fingers. A single leg of these eight-legged behemoths can feed the average man.

Hurtigruten, in conjunction with the Kirkenes Snow Hotel, offers King Crab Safaris. I knew I had to go.

After suiting up in balaclavas, boots, and Abominable Snowman-like suits, my compadres and I boarded a wooden sledge pulled by a snowmobile that zipped across the frozen fjord where we drilled holes, set traps, and confronted the prehistoric-looking creatures head on.

Within 30 minutes after pulling up the traps and posing for pictures with our monstrous prey, we were back in a cozy wooden fisherman’s cabin enjoying a veritable mountain of king crab.

I felt a little guilty knowing that just minutes before we popped them into the giant boiling outdoor pots, our feast was a cast of living, breathing creatures. But Michael, our safari guide, assured us that these beasts (and that’s really the only way to describe them) are an invasive species that have been wiping out native populations ever since the Russians introduced them to the Murmansk Fjord in the 1960s. So, conscience assuaged, we eagerly savored the crabs with butter running down our chins, knowing we were actually doing the Norwegian Wildlife Services a favor.

Hurtigruten’s King Crab Safaris are offered mid-December to April 20 and include a guide, transportation, winter clothes, and an all-you-can eat meal of the best red king crab on the planet.

King crab safari

We thoroughly enjoyed our snowmobile trip however we chose this trip for the King crabs. We were really looking forward to eating them. Crabs were soft and overcooked with little meat in the crab. The service we were provided was wonderful and partly made up for the poor quality of the crab

Really exciting driving a snowmobile. Friendly and helpful staff. Olf was very funny as well as being a good instructor. Loved feeding the sheep. We hurtled across the frozen Barents Sea- great fun.

Brilliant experience . It was - 12ºC and we loved it.
We were a small group which maybe helped as we received first class treatment from Ken. A brief introductory session after being kitted-out in cold-weather suits, helmets, gloves and boots then a long drive through the snow at night.
Back in we had a crab dinner with wine sat by a roaring fire and Ken chatted with us so we learnt a lot about life in Kirkenes.
Highly recommended

What a wonderful experience of seeing raw nature’s . lots of snow, cold day, out on the ice in sleds or using snow mobiles, out to a hole cut in the Barents Sea that had been iced over since November, pulling up King Crabs, then heading back for a feast of crab in a traditional teepee with a hug log fire . very memorable afternoon!

Our group of 20 will always remember this outing. It was a particularly cold night on Feb 4 (-13C, -25C with the wind chill factored in) but we were well-kitted out with thermals. Those of us who didn't want to ride on the snowmobiles rode in the sleds.

We saw how the king crabs were caught.

We then went back to the warm tent for an all-you-want-to-eat meal of steamed king crabs. The meat is tender, sweet and succulent - delicious eaten on its own.

King Crab Safari In Kirkenes: Fishing For King Crabs In Frozen Lake

King Crab Fishing in the frozen lake and fjords in Kirkenes is an experience that I would never forget in my lifetime. Most of the hotels in Kirkenes will offer activities for King Crab Safari so I think it will not matter which one you signed up with the experience will probably be quite similar. My King Crab Safari fishing comes included in my tour package. In this experience, visitors will get an opportunity to learn more about the Arctic King Crab! You get to understand more about this mysterious creature, how it lives, how you can catch, cook, and even eat it. We were picked up by a tour group bus from our hotel and reached Kirkenes Snowhotel after a merely short 30 minutes ride.

Tip: The main season for King Crab Fishing is from October – January.

We were required to put on some thick clothing provided to keep us warm from the freezing weather. It was around -5 Degree Celsius but to the locals, this is quite a warm winter. I can’t imagine how cold it will be for a cold winter. We were guided to the changing room where we were given outer jackets, boots, gloves, helmets of our sizes.

Not long after everyone was geared up and ready, we boarded the snowmobiles to the middle of the frozen lake where the king crabs fishing spot was set up. It was just a 10 minutes snowmobile ride. The scene of riding the snowmobile while the snow falls from the sky is something that is memorable. This is not something that you can experience when you live on a sunny island like Singapore.

Curious on how the king crab fishing spot looks like? The spot looks just like a big squarish hole in the lake.

As you can see from the photo above, there is a thick red rope. If you pull the rope up, you will find a cage which contains the red king crabs. Don’t ask me, I have no idea how the king crabs got into the cage in the first place. The fisherman did some explanation on the trapping process though, but I didn’t catch it. I am too engrossed with the surrounding.

The red king crabs can be extremely large. It can weigh up to 15kgs and its leg span can be almost 2 metres. Can you imagine it?

The fisherman put a few king crabs on the frozen ice to kill it. After they killed it, we picked up a few crabs to take some photos with it! How can one miss this Instagram worthy shot? Someone asked the question if people can eat the king crab raw and alive and the answer was YES! The fisherman skillfully cut a leg off from one of the king crabs and handed over some raw meat for us to try! Amazingly, the raw crab meat tasted so sweet and tender. How I wish there are some soya sauce and wasabi to go along with it.

After the crab fishing, we commute back to the Kirkenes Snowhotel via the snowmobile and we were brought to a hut. The fisherman then showed us the Norwegian way of cooking the King Crabs. The secret is… to soak the crabs in salt or seawater and then boils it till bright red color.

The best part of the excursion? or I should say the most enjoyable and fulfilling session is, of course, being able to eat and taste the fresh king crabs that were caught. Just above the changing room, there is a posh and beautiful restaurant where we were served our lunch. Look at the amazing view from the restaurant.

We helped ourselves with some hot chocolate and waiting patiently for our king crabs lunch. Even the tour leader who had been here a dozen times was excited about the lunch. I knew this ought to be one of the best lunches of my entire trip (or even my whole year).

Tada! Here is the start of our king crab feast! The fisherman brought two big trays filled with big red juicy, king crabs legs. And I forget to mention, this is buffet style! What big legs, just imagine the meat filling on the inside. How can anyone resist this delicacy?

Just for your info, it is recommended to eat King Crabs the local way (Norwegian way). The local way as explained by the fisherman is to eat the crab meat with toast and mayonnaise. Be sure to order some wine to go along with it as well.

King Crab safari

We did the snowmobile safary in February 2017.This was an excursion booked through Hurtigruten cruise. The transfer took around 15 minutes and the driver (Viktor) was very friendly and nice. When we arrived they provided us with warm clothes and helmets. One the guys gave us instructions on how to operate the snowmobiles with special iportance on the safety. We drobe over the frozen Barents sea, the trip was fantastic and full on adrenaline rush. After that we had some dried ren dear meat, coffee and some sort of "show" in a Sammi lavvu tent with a big wooden fire in the middle.

Booked the snow mobile safari through Hurtigruten. The buses were there waiting for us when the ship docked, 17 of us in total doing the trip, too many for one mini bus so Hubby and I travelled in a bus on our own - felt like a private transfer. Viktor, who drove us, was a pleasure to chat with on the 15 minute transfer.

We got kitted up when we arrived, they checked our boots and gloves were good enough and gave us a helmet and an all weather overall - super thick and cosy so we were snuggy on the tour. Really thorough safety briefing which left us feeling confident. I was a passenger for the whole trip (my choice) - some people swapped over half way through. We initially set off at a sedate pace but after a short distance the group split and we went off behind Ulf at quite a pace. After about 6 km we stopped for some information about the area and were given a sense of where we were geographically. Ulf shared stories about life in the Kirkenes area.

When we got back we went into the lavvu (tent) where there was a roaring fire, tea, coffee and some dried reindeer meat. Ulf, a consummate professional and all round entertainer, regaled us with stories and songs from Sami culture, then we disrobed and were returned to our ship with 10 minutes to spare before we sailed.

What a marvellous tour - would thoroughly recommend it to anyone. There were people of all ages and abilities on the trip with no pressure on you to go a certain speed. Safety and fun were certainly the order of the day.

Our Blog

Exciting, fascinating and – most importantly – unforgettable. The King Crab Safari in Kirkenes is one of the many remarkable wonders that Scandinavia has to offer. It’s rare that a tour combines informative with exhilarating, but that’s exactly what the King Crab Safari is all about. So what does it involve, and when should you go? Read on to find out.

The Arctic King Crab is native to the Bering Sea, near Alaska, where they’ve seen a steady decline in population since around 2000. In the Barents Sea, however, the King Crab is becoming more and more prevalent. Norway’s long stretching coast rises up to border the Barents Sea in the North, which is why Norway is the perfect location to experience the creatures in their natural habitat.

This fascinating crustacean is also something of a Scandanavian delicacy. It’s served in top restaurants across Scandanavia, as well as some parts of Central Europe. Given its location, Norway

in particular is known for its King Crab cuisine.

So what is the safari?

On the King Crab Safari, even the transport is exciting! You’ll enjoy a sleigh ride over to a frozen fjord, home to the King Crabs. Enjoy the scenery as the snowmobile does all the work pu

lling you through the icy landscape. It gets even better when you arrive, as you get to take part in catching the huge creatures. Get a taste of the Norwegian fishermen’s fascinating work as you try sawing a hole in the ice and catching your own King Crab.

The fun doesn’t stop there. You then witness how the fabulous creature is prepared, before being taken on your sleigh back to a stunning lakeside farmhouse. The stimulating expedition through Northern Norway continues as you are greeted by a gorgeous king crab meal. Enjoy the succulent white meat with its natural sweetness as you relax after a day that’s sure to live long in the memory.

How to plan your trip?

This isn’t the kind of trip you can do independently. Luckily, there are some fabulous packages on offer. Scandi Travel offer the <> [add link to tour when live].

It includes a night at one of the most unique and encapsulating hotels in the world. The Kirkenes Snow Hotel features snow suites with ice beds and enchanting snow sculptures on the walls. See walls of snow that act as an insulator, keeping the temperatures at around -4 degrees, despite the -30 degree temperature outside. The ice beds are comfier than they sound too. A comfortable mattress sits on top of the amazing ice structure that makes up the base of the bed. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, which pairs perfectly with the unique King Crab Safari.

How the King Crab came to Norway

The first attempt to introduce the red king crab to the Barents Sea from the Pacific Ocean took place in the early 1930s. However, this proved unsuccessful, apparently due to poor equipment to store and transport the crabs.

The experiment was repeated in 1959, and this time proved successful. Ten large female crabs were caught in the Sea of Japan off the coast of Vladivostok, and transported from east to west across the former Soviet Union. All the crabs survived the long trip and were kept at an aquaculture station near Murmansk over the winter. In the spring, they were released into the fjord along with five male crabs. During the period 1961-69, 1.5 million crab larvae were released into the Barents Sea. The last resettlement took place in 1977-78 when 1,200 adult king crabs were released into Kola Bay. Consequently, the current king crab population in the Barents Sea may be traced back to these crabs.

The first recorded catch of a king crab in the Soviet part of the Barents Sea was in 1974, while in January 1977 a king crab was caught in a net in the Varangerfjord for the first time. This coincided with a confirmation from the Soviet authorities that the red king crab had been introduced to the Barents Sea, and that they considered the introduction of this species to be successful.

Сафари за королевским крабом

Самый большой королевский краб, выловленный во фьорде Варангер весил 14 кг, и длина клешней была около 2 метров. Нигде больше в мире, даже на Камчатке, никогда не вылавливали таких крупных королевских крабов.

King Crab Safari in the Arctic Sea, Barents Sea
Nesseby, Kirkenes

Во время Сафари нашей добычей будет самый большой представитель морских ракообразных – королевский краб.

15 кг королевские крабы – это вкуснейших морской деликатес. Во время сафари мы предлагаем Вам попробовать блюда, приготовленные профессиональным поваром специально для Вас из только что выловленной добычи. Свежее нежное крабовое мясо подают с белым хлебом, лимоном, чесноком, домашним соусом и белым вином. Несмотря на простую сервировку, вкус у королевского краба отменный. Взрослый человек может насытиться одной клешней. Стол накрыт, и начинается настоящий пир!

Мы отправимся в путешествие пораньше с утра из фьорда Варангер, из деревушки Nesseby на специальной шхуне для того, чтобы провести день в море, наслаждаясь ни с чем не сравнимыми по своей суровой красоте пейзажами норвежских фьордов, и, конечно же, побаловать себя блюдами, приготовленными из королевского краба.

Во время Сафари у Вас есть возможность порыбачить, Вашей добычей могут стать полосатая зубатка, треска, пикша, сайда, палтус и другая морская рыба. Всё необходимое для рыбалки входит в стоимость Сафари и такие Туры организуются круглый год.

Самый большой королевский краб, выловленный во фьорде Варангер весил 14 кг, и длина клешней была около 2 метров. Нигде больше в мире, даже на Камчатке, никогда не вылавливали таких крупных королевских крабов.

При необходимости вам поможгут найти проживание в деревушке Nesseby.
Минимальная продолжительность Сафари 3 часа.

В стоимость пакета входит: восхитительная еда, все необходимое для рыбалки, разрешение/лицензия на вылов, специальная роба, услуги профессионального рыбака(на английском и норвежском языках). За дополнительную оплату: доставка на автомобиле, размещение и проживание и пр.

Come and join us for a fantastic day on the water, where we will show you how to catch, prepare and most importantly eat these giants from the Barents Sea.

  • Travel by RIB out on the fjord together with experienced fishermen
  • Offer your help to pull the King Crab cages from the depts
  • See our chef prepare today’s catch
  • Enjoy your King Crab meal in a traditional boat house

Autumn (Sep - Oct), Spring (Apr - May), Summer (Jun - Aug)

Meals on the trip: King crab, hot beverage. Clothes/Footwear: Wear comfortable shoes and warm and wind-proof clothing. Clothing available depending on weather

Red King Crabs can weigh up to 10 kilos and have a leg span of 1, 8 meters. An experienced fisherman will take you for an unforgettable King Crab Fishing tour on a brand-new RIB boat where we will cruise along the Barents Sea to find the right place to anchor. You will be hands on deck to help pull up the King Crab cages from the depths. Your guide will take you back and serve your catch in a traditional renovated boat house by the fjord. You may eat as much crab as you wish.

Practical Information

  • Disembarking port: Kirkenes
  • Embarking port: Kirkenes
  • Available period: April 21 - November 30
  • Transportation: Bus, RIB

Meals on the trip: King Crab, warm drink, water

Clothes/Footwear: Comfortable shoes, warm and windproof clothing. Special clothing is provided

King Crab Safari - you have to do it!

We went to Kirkenes to spend a night in the Snow Hotel (and do a few of their "adventures" trips) but King Crab Safari with Hans became the highlight of the trip. Excellent guide, fun snowmobile trip and delicious king crabs (and very generous - all you could eat! ))
Thanks Hans and Sergei - if we are ever back in Kirkenes (and I hope we will be back) - we will do it again (and again ))

We had a day and night in Kirkenes and got picked up from the boat dock. Taken by bus which was nice and warm. The guide oulf (I think that's how you spell it) was very entertaining and knowledgable. After a few laughs we arrived, got given everything we needed and was given instructions on how to use the mobile. We rode 2kms into the fjord and then swapped over and the other driver drove back. We got up to speeds of 70kmph. As a beginner I thought it was a great chance to get to ride the snow mobile and get some speed when I was confident. My partner thought it was boring just going in a straight line but was happy I enjoyed it.

Never having been on a snowmobile, my wife and I were a bit uncertain, but Hans assured all there was nothing to be concerned about and he was right. After suiting up in polar gear and helmets, we trekked out to see very large king grabs pulled from the depths then back to a Sami (laplander) style tent to gorge on snow crab. Delicious, and all you can eat. What more could one want!

Our second and third outings with Hans at Barents Safari. This time it was an evening spin out along the ice, combined with King Crab for those who like such a thing. The evening jaunt across the ice is safe for everyone and in the dark it adds an air of mystery when your full beams on the ice lake pick out the snowmobile ahead. As always, a good safety briefing, warm clothing including boots, suit, buff, helmets and gloves are provided. The evening concluded with lots of tea in the Saami tent.

The next day we did a full day outing, 7 hours out, down into Finland and across the border to a small outpost. This time it was basically Hans leading us across mountains, hills, frozen marshes and plains well away from roads and population areas. We encountered deep snow drifts, hills where we learned to slide around cambered corners (successfully most of the time) and how to turn over a snowmobile after we had failed to come out of a deep drift - somewhat tricky when you sink three feet into the snow every time you stand up.

As there were only two of us, lunch was in a supermarket delicatessen in Finland with an area set aside for snowmobiles. Hans was the perfect host, helping us to choose from the deli and we had free rein over the supermarket for food - which he paid for. I must admit I wasn't that hungry as I wanted to get back on the snowmobile and see what is on the other side of the hill. The afternoon ended up with me leading Hans now that I knew what to look for and where to steer so that last hour back to base was all down to me.

Blue skies, white untouched snow as far as we could see and plenty of GoPro footage to cherish.

We will be back and if anyone asks if it's worth it, then it's a resounding YES and we will be back again in a couple of years to do it all over again.

K irkenes, Norway is a small town that’s big in winter activities. Located approximately 15 km from the Russian border, Kirkenes is set in the center of the magical Northern Lights zone. It’s very far north in fact – it’s 400 km’s north of the Arctic Circle. Of course, it gets pretty cold in the Arctic Circle – the average temperature for January is 13.1 degrees Fahrenheit. Summer can reach up to 60.8. The city’s origins lie in mining, and an underground maze of tunnels still runs beneath the streets.

One of the most popular winter attractions in Kirkenes is to join a King Crab Safari. During this one-of-a-kind experience, you’ll bundle up in warm winter gear and zoom on a snowmobile to local fishing holes. There, you’ll help raise enormous king crabs to the surface so they can be cooked into a fresh and delectable meal for all travelers on the King Crab Safari. Although the exterior shell of these massive crabs doesn’t look very appetizing, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the sweet and delicate meat inside.

As well as the harbor and excellent fishing, Kirkenes also has other tourist attractions, like the Grenselandmuseet – a fascinating museum about the history of the area and the border with Russia. There is a Thursday market in which the whole town displays their produce. Also, a well-hidden attraction is the Andersgrotta bunker which is a World War II bunker under the town.

Another famous destination in Kirkenes is the sparkling Snow Hotel, where all the rooms are carved from ice. You’ll have the unique opportunity to drink cocktails from the ice bar before heading to sleep on an ice bed surrounded by decorative frozen sculptures. For thrilling action in Kirkenes, go dog-sledding with the Huskies. Altogether, Kirkenes is the coolest place for every traveler looking for something totally unique to do!

Watch the video: KING CRAB HUNT - NORWAY (July 2022).


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