Thursday, 24 September 2009

Flam, and kayaking in the Fjords

4-6 September

One of the things we decided early on in our planning for this trip, was to do some Sea Kayaking in Norway. And we finally got there!

Day 1 we met the guides (Erwin and Roger from Njord Kayak) at their base in Flam, and met the rest of our group (Matt and Lisa from the USA, and Charlie and Mary from London). After a few hours of saftey stuff, and stuffing the kayaks full of our gear and food, we took off for a quiet start from Flam up the Aursland Fjord, paddling for about an hour. Saw a Seal swimming the Fjord, and some Harbour Porpoises too. Stopped to walk up to a waterfall for lunch, then back for a few more hours paddling to our first campsite at Stokko. Brief stop at the town of Undreadal before we reached Stokko - it's famous for it's goat cheese, but the store was closed to Kerry's dissapointment! The fjord is really similar to Fjordland in New Zealand, where we have kayaked, except this fjord has people living and working in it. Got the tent up in the rain, and finally warmed up with an excellent stir fry dinner cooked by Erwin. The hip flask of Laphroig and endless stories helped with the final warming up too, thanks Charlie ;-)

campsite

Day 2 saw us getting up quite late, to a huge mass of clouds rolling down the fjord. They never quite reached us, but looked really close. After stuffing everything back in the kayaks again (we took way too much stuff as usual), we paddled up to Stigan (Steegan?) and pulled up on the wharf. From there we hiked up to Stigan Farm - a very famous farm, as it's the higest farm still being worked in the fjords - 500m or so straight up a goat track for 45 mins, perched above the fjord (took some convincing to get me up there, but totally worth it for the view). Very interesting to see how they lived up on the tops of the fjiord - they have cable winches for pulling up supplies, and somehow they managed to get all the materials for a large farmhouse up there. Nobody was too hungry then, so we jumped back in the kayaks and paddled up to the end of the Aurlandsford, and stopped where it joined the Naeroyfjord, a Unesco world protected fjord, rafted up, and had lunch in the kayaks, with ferries and boats driving past thinking we were crazy! We crossed the Naeroyfjord a few times, and disturbed a huge Sea Eagle, who perched in a tree above us and decided we weren't a threat. Paddled to the next campsite, which had a entire beach full of driftwood from the storm that had recently passed through - Rach had great fun building a fire with the damp wood (too many people came and poked at it, ruining my system! haha). Another fantastic dinner cooked by Erwin, this time pasta with pesto and chicken. Maybe it's the fresh air, or the tiredness from paddling all day, but the food on the trip all tasted fantastic, along with Roger's espresso. Evening saw us sit around the fire being entertained by Charlies tales and jokes again, with the Laphroig making the rounds.

fjiord of clouds

Day 3 was a leisurly paddle down to Gundrangen, with lots of stops for snacks and chats. Erwin has been working in the fjords as a guide for 8 seasons, and has spent a lot of time learning not just the routes, but the legends and stories from the locals. There are 'trolls' everywhere - monsters dreamed up to stop the children getting into dangerous situations, and also demon women, unborn children of suicide women as porpises protecting the people who travel on the fjord. It's rather fascinating to hear these stories as you're quietly drifting along the fjord. Arrived at Gundrangen around 2pm, and packed up the kayaks and gear into the Van. A quick 20 min drive through a tunnel, and we were back in Flam. Met up with Erwin, Roger, Charlie and Mary at the local 'pub', which is in a fake viking hall - sounds tacky but was really comftable actually (a rather scary €8 a pint, but by then we didn't care too much), for a few too many drinks (and that Laphroig resurfaced again!), then back to our room for a very rested nights sleep.

P1000261

A HUGE thanks to the team from Njord Kayaks - one of the best few days we've ever had.

More photos on flickr here (including some that Matt sent us, which I've shamelessly put on my flickr site!). Still need to get our disposable camera we took on the water developed.

1 comment:

  1. Mary and Charly have posted some more photos of the trip here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mazza808/tags/norway09/

    There's a few of us, including a rather sober image from early on the last evening drinking at the local 'pub'.

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