Interview: How does expedition guide Sindre deal with months of lockdown?
We reached out to our expedition team, each in their own respective world’s, to see what they are up to. How do these adventurous souls cope with a ‘lockdown’ during which travelling has been out of the question for months. How do they experience this time of reflection?
We ask Sindre Frahm Jensen. He’s one of the expert guides on our WInter Whales of Norway Expeditions. Sindre was supposed to be on board our expedition ship MS Freya now, searching for orcas, whales and northern lights. But due to the corona restrictions he is stuck at home like all of us.
At the moment I am in Stavanger, Norway. I had just finished up a film shoot down in Antarctica and gotten back home to Norway when everything started shutting down. The first few months I spent as a kind of “vacation”, catching up with family and friends at home, hiking in the mountains and scuba diving.
I was one of the lucky guides out there that actually got a few weeks of work up in Svalbard this season. No matter how nice it is to have some vacation time, it is always better to be out in the field doing what you love.
I have also been spending my time taking boat and safety courses, as well as creating new lectures and improving my old presentations to give my guests a better lecture when I get back onboard.
I have been up in Northern Norway working with Orcas and Humpback whales during the annual migration of the spring spawning herring every winter since 2016. It is understandable, but really strange and sad that I am not able to travel up there this season. What I miss most is the feeling of excitement us guides have every single day up there. Every day is different in weather, number of whales, northern lights and just the overall experiences that we get to give to our guests. My best days are when we are able to provide the most spectacular experiences and see how the guests faces light up of happiness and knowing we have given them something they will remember for the rest of their lives. That is what I miss the most.
There are many unique memories of our trips to Northern Norway, both out on the water and during the dark hours. My best whale experience with our guests definitely has to be the day our ship MS Freya had 50+ whales all to ourselves for a whole day. We got in the water alone with the whales early in the morning, with a beautiful pink sky, and did not get out of the water until it was dark out. The whales stayed with us for about 4-5 hours without leaving and our guests got to enjoy that once in a lifetime experience. During these snorkeling experiences we have whales coming in close to inspect you, we see feeding whales, breaching whales and just too many great experiences to list.
During the dark hours we’re often lucky enough to see the most amazing and strong dancing northern lights. One time the lights suddenly showed up out of nowhere and were so bright we all just stood there watching in awe.
My most memorable moment of these dark evenings was when our guests had planned a whole evening playing a “murder mystery party”. We all got a character we had to dress up as and then mingle around trying to figure out who was the murderer. We always have a great time during all our expeditions, diving, hiking, storytelling, lectures and so on, that we as guides plan to give our guests the best experiences. It was really nice for a change that the guests came and told us they had planned a murder mystery party and wanted us to join.
To all Winter Whales guests I would just like to say: Bring your best mood and bathing suit (we offer to do a polar plunge!). The great thing about these expeditions is that nothing is guaranteed or expected. We may spot hundreds of orcas every day, or we may only see a few. Sometimes the weather is amazing, other times it is rough and makes us work hard for our experiences. We are all there for the whales, but don’t forget to have fun and enjoy every single moment. Norway is full of beautiful scenery and interesting weather. Even “bad” experiences can be made “fun” if we just have the right mindset. This is an expedition, it is an adventure that will be with you forever.
I always try to stay positive and am hopeful. I believe that we will bounce back from the pandemic and we will start traveling again. Humans have a desire to explore and go places we have not been to before. The biggest difference might be that we will take more precautions during travel. We can only imagine, but maybe we will all be better at washing our hands more often, thinking about how we sneeze or just in general spread our germs.
All in all I believe we will get back out there and explore again. And I am already looking forward to welcoming my future guests!