Best of Norway's Great Outdoors
by Patti Brown
April 5, 2019 50th Anniversary Stories
April 5, 2019 50th Anniversary Stories
We had been toying with the idea of exploring Norway for at least two years. Once we decided to go, it was a no brainer to go with MT Sobek; we had toured with them in past and loved the experience. The trip seemed like the perfect balance of physical challenge (moderate), scenery and cultural. The MT Sobek agenda had us travel from the south, starting in Oslo, to far north of the arctic circle. We experienced a lot of what Norway has to offer in 11 days.
Our cultural introduction started in Oslo with a city walking tour, a visit to the famous Vigeland sculpture garden, and a private tour the architecturally fabulous opera house led by a former prima ballerina. Not being Opera fans, our joy with this tour caught us by surprise.
Departing Oslo, travel began with a short flight to Bergen. From the air, we could see fjords as well as salmon farms. Arriving in Bergen to sunshine, we walked to the Brygge UNESCO world heritage site, strolled along cobble stone paths lined with historic buildings, modern shops and an open air fish market. The next day the group climbed a steep harbor-side trail, to the top of a funicular, where we spent time on the viewing platform looking down upon the harbor and views beyond, prior to descending in the funicular car. We had heard that consecutive days of rain free sunshine are rare in Bergen and complimented the guides for arranging such nice weather. We were charmed by the historic fishing city of Bergen.
The group continued our adventure boarding a ship in Bergen for an overnight cruise to Geirangerfjiord. The next morning we awoke to another gorgeous day entering Norway’s largest fjord (Sognefjiorden). In the early afternoon, the ship turned out of Sognefjioden and entered the Geiranger fjord. At this point we were at the railing of the ship, enjoying the tremendous scenery with many waterfalls cascading down the fjord walls. The fjord terminated in a very small town where we disembarked and made our way to the hotel. Our room had a gorgeous view of the fjord. After quickly changing into hiking gear, the group promptly left on a steep hike to Storsæterfossen waterfall. After this challenging hike, the group decided to enjoy a beverage on the outdoor deck of a cafe located near the trailhead. What a great way to celebrate a hike!
After a delicious breakfast the following morning, we climbed into the van and drove toward Andalsnes. Along the way we stopped at Trollstigen to see the “trolls wall”. This is where the “trolls” climb the “ladder to the sky” into the Romsdal Alps. Beautiful!
Our destination hotel near Åndalsnes was called Hotel Aak (1860, recently comfortably renovated) where we enjoyed cozy accommodations and extraordinary gourmet meals. We stayed here two nights and traveled by van each day to different trail heads for hiking. One hike lead us to the Aursjovegen plateau where we gasped at the commanding views down into the pastoral valley and the mountains beyond. We could see for miles and miles!
Leaving hotel Aak we made our way toward the resort town of Oppdal. Along the way we stopped for a hike up a well marked trail, with signage outlining how the ancient people of the region hunted reindeer. Reindeer played a key role in the survival and development of the early inhabitants in Norway, along with cod. At the top of this trail is the Snøhetta viewpoint, the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre Pavilion, home to reindeer and musk ox. We saw 4 musk ox through binoculars.
While staying in the resort town of Oppdal we visited a local Viking cemetery. Here we received guided tour from a local historian. This was our favorite cultural experience of the trip. The tour guide had once worked with a group of specially trained people to carefully uncover artifacts from a couple of the Viking burial mounds. Many (hundreds to thousands) of artifacts are buried with each person, depending on their status in the community. After the initial excavation and artifact collection it was determined that it would be best to leave the cemetery as is. Although about 750 or so burial mounds are visible and known, the cemetery is believed to contain a few thousand remains. It is one of the largest Viking cemeteries discovered.
We traveled from Oppdal to Bodo via an overnight train. From Bodo we took a ferry out to the Lofoten archipelago where we stayed in our favorite accommodations, traditional fishermen’s cabins called Rorbuer. These cabins are more like nice small houses, perched on piers right on the waterfront and are used by fishermen during the cod season.
The Lofoten islands offer spectacular and idyllic views of rugged hilly coastlines and inlets. Throughout our travels in Norway, we saw beautiful rainbows. Here on the Lofotens we saw several rainbows each day, dramatically vivid, arching over hillsides and diving into the sea. The islands offered short but challenging hikes along rocky shore-lined hills that opened up onto sandy beaches. At the conclusion of our last hike, a couple of brave souls (one of the guides and a guest) ran into the surf and plunged into the North Sea so they could claim they had braved the waters above the arctic circle!
Alas, our trip was coming to an end. From the Lofoten islands, we caught an early morning flight back to Bodo, followed by a flight back to Oslo and then on homeward.
Our MT Sobek tour was an immersion into Norway. The tour covered a vast amount of territory with efficient modes of transportation (overnight travel by both train and cruise ship etc), allowed us to explore Norway’s beautiful and rugged landscape and to learn and experience Norway’s rich cultural heritage. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!
Patti Brown, MT Sobek Guest
MT Sobek Trip: Best of Norway’s Great Outdoors, 2018