Walking on Ekkerøy

The air is raw, and the sky is high above Ekkerøy. The white-tailed eagle is on the hunt, and all of a sudden the peaceful sky above the birds’ mountain turns into an inferno of white.

Photo: Bjarne Riesto

The powerful eagles and their ferocious wings make life difficult for the nesting kittiwakes, where they sit in small nests in extremely steep cliffs. In the blink of an eye, we become witnesses to a fight for life and death.

Dangerous egghunting

Previously, the white-tailed eagle had competition from the local inhabitants for the kittiwakes’ eggs. People hung in ropes from the top of the cliff to collect fresh kittiwake eggs, which they either used to make waffles or sold to cafes in Vadsø. Some people collected 300 eggs in one day.


Further up and beyond the kittiwake mountain, you find the two ladies “Gerda” and “Paula” – who were probably named after German officers or their children. They are just two of many facilities from World War II than can be found on Ekkerøy. From 1940-44 hundreds of German soldiers who occupied houses, schools and community centres here.

A story of tiring days

Spread throughout the remains and memories from the war, we find the distinguishable peat landscape. A landscape that reminds us of blood, sweat and tears; entire families had to contribute to carry and cut the peat, and the hours were long. In the winter, the peat was carried on sleds down to small, cold homes that often housed large families.

Strong women’s stories

Before there were colourful houses in Ekkerøy, people lived in small peat huts. Ever since 1563 Ekkerøy has been inhabited. In the early days, there were several women who were accused of sorcery and witchcraft. During the 1600s, fourteen of them were burnt alive in Vardø. All this because powerful men were under the impression that the women had bewitched ships and poisoned people. Perhaps the men didn’t like the special power these women possessed.

From island to peninsula

200 years ago, Ekkerøy was an island, but because of erosion it has now become part of the mainland. The same natural forces have created the sound of “The rolling stones” in The Beach of fortune stones by the bird mountain. Here you might find your lucky stone. It might appeal to you by the way it “speaks”, or by the way it looks or how it feels in your hand. In times when you need energy, it might come in handy. But only if you really believe in it. Have a good trip.

Do you want other tips for trips in Varanger:

Welcome to Ekkerøy!