Meet the locals: An interview with Tomasz Furmanek

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Marie Peyre - [email protected]
Meet the locals: An interview with Tomasz Furmanek
Photos: Tomasz Furmanek

His kayaking pictures have gone viral, and inspired many to go paddling in Norway. Our travel editor Marie Peyre interviewed Bergen resident and Norway enthusiast Tomasz Furmanek to talk kayak, photography and of course travel.



How did you get into kayaking?

I was free-diving before I started kayaking. And kayaking was a convenient way of reaching nice dive spots. That was mainly how I used the kayak in the beginning. It rains a lot in Bergen, and kayaking is a nice activity, even when it rains. So I started doing more kayaking, and less diving.

How often do you go out in your kayak?

I kayak mainly at the weekend, and about twice a week after work in summer. I only work 80% and use 20% on kayaking and photography.

What's special about paddling in Norway?

Norway offers a lot of variation. Paddling in the costal regions near the open sea can be rough and dangerous, while on some of the fjords and lakes it can be very calm and relaxing in good weather. The fjords are very scenic, and kayaking is a great way of experiencing nature in these regions.

What are the best places to kayak in Norway in your opinion?

Lofoten is very nice but it can be rough, since it is exposed to harsh weather. The fjords in western Norway are very scenic and better suited for beginners. The Helgeland Coast in Northern Norway is also very nice. It is calmer and less crowded.

Photos: Tomasz Furmanek 

Anywhere in Norway you haven't explored yet that's high on your list?

I would like to go to the island of Senja in Northern Norway. I would also like to kayak in the northern parts of Møre and Romsdal.

You paddle year round: what's your favourite season for kayaking, and why?

I generally like May and the beginning of June best. The days are very long and in the north, one can enjoy the midnight sun. In the inner parts of the fjords, you can ski on glaciers in May and kayak in warm weather in the fjords. The contrast between the green colours by the fjords and the white snow-covered peaks and glaciers is very nice.

Photos: Tomasz Furmanek 

Do you often meet wildlife on your kayaking trips? 

You can mainly see eagles and seals near the coast and in the fjords. In Northern Norway you can kayak with whales and orcas, but I have never met one in my kayak.

You prefer to kayak alone: why?

It is easier to take photos when I am alone. Taking photos requires patience and time. Another reason is that kayaking alone makes me experience more of nature, since there are fewer distractions.

And if you had to take someone with you, who would it be?

I sometimes kayak with my girlfriend, but she prefers to paddle in warm weather.

Photo: Tomasz Furmanek 


How did you learn about photography?

I started taking photos about 15 years ago. Instagram is a great place for photography, because it can push people to take better photos.

How do you plan your shots?

I check the weather and check the areas in Google Maps and Photographers Ephemeris. It is very difficult to take good photos in rough weather because of the sea spray.

Do you sell a lot of your photos? Where have these ended up? 

I work at the university and at the Institute of Marine Science. They used a lot of my photos on their newest research vessel named after Fridtjof Nansen, who was one of the first people to use kayaks in his Fram Expedition. Visit Norway uses a lot of my photos on their website. GoPro is the company that has bought and used a lot of my photos, both in social media and in global marketing campaigns (many of my photos are taken with GoPro cameras). I usually give photos for free for private use.

Photo: Tomasz Furmanek 

Your photos have received a lot of attention worldwide. You have had a lot of press coverage, and now have over 80K followers on Instagram. What is it like being a 'social media influencer'?

It is nice that a lot of people like my photos. I try to add as much information about the locations I visit in my posts so that people can use this information to plan trips to these areas.


You live in Bergen: any tips for kayakers visiting the city?

The best places for kayakers near Bergen are in the area of Sotra and Øygarden. These islands are located about 45 minute drive west of Bergen. Some of the places are calm and protected and some places are suitable for experienced kayakers who like waves and rock hopping.

And for others? 

I recommend to visit Mount Ulriken, the highest mountain located near Bergen. There is a cable car to reach the summit, but also a lot of nice trails.

What do you like best about Bergen? 

Bergen is surrounded by mountains, and the mountains are directly accessible from the city.

And what about Norway in general?

I like the easy access to nature. In Norway, it is legal to go camping in the wild and in all the national parks. It gives people freedom to explore nature.

Photo: Tomasz Furmanek 

Last, but not least. What advice would you have to someone planning a kayaking trip to Norway?

I generally recommend travelling in May or early June or in the Autumn when there are fewer tourists, especially to the most popular locations. The weather in the fjords in western Norway is usually best in May and early June.

The water temperature is low in Norway most of the year. I kayak with a dry suit year round. In Northern Norway, a dry suit is recommended. In the summer months, the water temperature is higher, and kayaking in lighter clothes is possible in western and southern Norway. I recommend bringing rain clothes, and warm clothes since the weather can be harsh , even in summer.

I very often have multiple plans, so that I have several options, and I make my final decision day by day depending on the weather. I basically follow the weather. This often makes me drive longer distances, but also increases the chances of getting nice photos in better weather. 

Photo: Tomasz Furmanek 

You can see more of Tomasz's photos on his website as well as FacebookTwitter and Instagram accounts.

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