We have hiked one of 19 heart racing trails according to National Geographic, we have gone diving in the arctic north atlantic ocean, we have caught a 15kg cod, we have seen reindeer, a whale, and sea eagles. We have spent an amazing holiday in some of the most beautiful places on earth in Norway.
We start early. Our driver picks us up at 6:30. It is my second flight during Covid. The airport is conveniently empty, the lounge is fortunately open. We booked business class to Oslo. The two hours pass quickly. In Oslo, we take the train to the city center and drop our luggage of at our hotel, the Citybox. First order of business is to buy gas canisters. Afterwards, we explore the city: Royal Palace, Karl Johans Gata, City Hall; we climb on the roof of the opera house and walk along the Strandpromenaden, interrupted only by lunch at Cafe Skansen. We call it a day early and enjoy champaign and other drinks at the Akershus Fortress, enjoying the view over the city.
Today we head to Jotunheimen. Our bus leaves Oslo station right on time.
After ca. 4h we turn left of the main road and reach Gjendesheim shortly after. We do a final check on our backpacks. A nice lady in the shop gives us some tea for free. Then it is time to go. The we climb up a small hill and follow its back upwards. We have beautiful views on Gjende Lake. Vegetation is green but we quickly lose trees and reach a mars-like stone desert.
We ascend over this mars-like landscape to the peak of Veselfjellet. The peak is marked by a huge pile of stones. After a short break, we start our descend to Besseggen. We try to spot places to camp, as two hikers have issued a stern warning due to the late hour (“Its F$&ing steep”). However, we find none that is appropriate.
We reach the ridge. The landscape is painted in a beautiful evening light. The climb down is indeed a climb. Not difficult. Michi manages very well, even though some passages take a bit of time. Especially in the lower part, we need to climb. Not easy with 18kg backpacks but ok. We reach the bottom of Besseggen at around 22.00 – thank you for the long days. We find the most beautiful campsite overlooking both Bessvatnet and Gjende.
What a view. We have breakfast on the ridge overlooking the lakes. The weather promises to be beautiful. Relaxed, at around 10am we are ready to leave.
The path is still steep and rocky. We take a break and refill our water at Bessvatnet – thank you water filter. Then we need to climb a bit more; upward this time.
From there, we walk above the Gjende until we reach the long decent to Memurubu. Its very hot. We take it slow.
At 17.00 we arrive at Memurubu and decide to rest for the night. We find another five star place to camp by the lake. We wash our clothes in the lake and have dinner (meticulously planned, which table gets to go to the Buffet at what time due Corona).
We sleep very well. After a good breakfast, we pack and head towards Gjendebu. The day starts with a 400m climb over three peaks until we reach the highland. The landscape is amazing and we have sweeping views across mountains, glaciers and valleys.
We do not descend to Gjendebu but stay on the highland.
A few kilometers after the Gjendebu intersection we make camp by a small lake. This may be the most beautiful camping spot, yet. We cook dinner and drink whisky with tea until the sun sets. Then crawl in our sleeping bags. Throughout the night, we hear cowbells but never see the animal.
Muesli and coffee get us going into another beautiful day. However, we realize that we may have overdone it on the Whisky.
Soon we are back on the trail. We get to enjoy more of the sweeping landscape. I have the Lord of the Rings music in my head the entire time.
Around noon, we start to descend into the valley, until we meet the river. We walk upwards again to the Hellafossen waterfall. Impressive from below, the outlet of the lake feeding the waterfall looks quite small. We walk around the lake until the trail branches again. We decided to take the “shortcut” through Urdadalen (20km) rather than hiking via Leirvasbu (30km).
We climb upwards into Urdadalen with beautiful views on the lake and the green landscape below. It will be the last green, we see for a while.
As we climb, the landscape changes. Stones get bigger, and grass recedes. We pass the first snow. The change in landscape becomes even more dramatic once we reach the high valley. We see ice and snow covered lakes, rugged peaks and nothing but rocks. We walk along three lakes, crossing multiple snow fields.
The sun hides behind the steep mountains early and we walk through the shade. We pass below the third lake, cross a river and climb the final 50m over a small ridge cutting the valley in half. However, we are not done for today. Ahead of us is a long descend through boulder fields, where once a glacier has been. Snowfields, boulders, repeat. We finally reach the lake.
At first, we see no place to pitch a tent in this rocky landscape but find a spot a bit further down the shore. Its a different kind of spot but beautiful, nonetheless. Still, we are happy to crawl into our sleeping bags.
The weather matches the surroundings. Dark clouds hang deep over the valley of stone and ice. We get up early, as the sun would touch our camp only later in the day. It turns out to be a good decision. We pack after breakfast of warm muesli and coffee. As we close our backpacks the rain starts to pour. We are happy to have hiked this far, yesterday. The stones become slippery and even more difficult to hike. But after 1h the stones become smaller and the path more walkable. After another hour we reach the end of Urdadalen and start to descend into the wide Visdalen.
Just as we reach the main path, we see them: Two herds of reindeer. 3 in the distance and 12 close by. We take a break and watch them as they move down the valley.
The reindeer walk with us as we descent towards Spiterstulen; faster of course, so we lose sight of them eventually. Its still raining heavily, so we keep going.
After a while, we meet the first people, a family with small kids going in the opposite direction to Urdadalen and ask us about tent spots. We enjoy the last kilometers of our hike. The rain stops and we take a final break in the wilderness.
Then we head into Spiterstulen. We take a larger room for 400-sth. per person and take a long, warm shower. We relax in the “living room”, drink hot chocolate and look out on Visdalen.
For dinner, its Elk meat balls and Blumenkohlsuppe (cauliflower soup). We enjoy the evening, look out the window and eventually go to bed.
Time to leave Jotunheimen. We enjoy the view up Visdalen for a final time on this trip during breakfast. Then we start a small bus odyssee: 201 to Lom, 143 to Otta, train to Støren and bus, replacing the train to Trondheim. We have a few hours to explore the city. We lock our bags at the bus station and walk through town to Nidarosdom. This is one of the largest churches in Scandinavia and former coronation church. From the tower, we have a magnificent view over Trondheim.We explore the old habor with pretty stilt houses.Finally its time to meet Ruud. Its a great evening. We had not seen each other in a decade. But it felt as if it had been a few days, only. We enjoyed burgers, beer and good talks until it was time for us to head to the train station to catch the night train to Bodø. 15.08. (Saturday)
The night train takes us north, swaying us to sleep. Our compartments are very comfortable and would have passed as 4 star hotel elsewhere. We arrive in rain Bodø at 9:15. The ferry terminal is a short 20min walk from the train station; and it is very small. Cafe is closed so we need to wait for our morning coffee. We have to wait ca. 2h for the ferry. On board, we get a front row seat and enjoy the passage. Some of our fellow travelers do not like the waves but we relax until we reach Moskenes. Our car rental guy checks neither passport nor driver’s license. We drive of – southward to Å.Å feels like the end of the world and is the end of the world, as far as the Lofoten are concerned. The road, E10, ends at a parking place. From here, its a short walk to a lookout point.
We explore the town a bit; the fishing museum actually is quite nice.
We drive onward to Reine. We explore the harbor and shop at the gas station. As its raining, we decide to see if we can get a good deal at Reine Rorbuer, rather than sleep in the tent. And indeed. The super friendly receptionist offers us a deal we cannot refuse. So instead of sleeping in a wet tent, we have a cozy and warm rorbu for us. We take a short evening stroll through town and go to bed.
Game day! We are out for the big fish today (or just some beginners on a fishing trip, who knows). Before we go fishing, we try to extend our stay in the super cozy Reine Rorbuer. Reception opens at 10 but the breakfast lady ensures me that it is no problem – and it is indeed not. Captain Lars and the Trio 2 take us south towards the Malstrøm. Survival suites keep us warm. Somewhere south of Å, we let out the hooks for the first time.What follows feels like industrial fishery. Let out the line. Reel in the fish. Let out the line. Reel in the fish. But big fish it is. I catch two supersized Saithes. Michi helps by feeding the fish.On the way back, Lars filets the fish and feeds the seagulls.We take 5 filets of our catch home, ca. 2,5kg. For lunch, we cook Saithe.In the afternoon, we go on our first little trip. First, we go to Antjes Shop on Sakrisøy. Good place to buy dried fish. We have a small Reken (shrimp) snack, buy a few things and go on. We stop on Hamnøy and stroll around the semi impressive island. It rains. Therefore, we decide to give Flagstad a try. And indeed, the rain stops as we get North.
The Bunpris Mart in Ramstad is quite big and we take the opportunity to shop. The beach is as beautiful as I remember it. Only there are more surfers here, today. We also visit the cemetery – a bit emotional – and the Flagstad church.Then we head back with a short stop on the Hamnøy viewpoint.Its raining and we are super happy to have extended our stay. Meal of the day is cod with orange sauce and potatoes.
Reinebringen! We wake up to a few rays of sun and I decide that today is the day. At 8am I am out the door and reach the start of the trail 20min later.Stairs with 1560 stone steps were built in 2016 to make the climb easier. It takes ca. 45min for me to reach the top if the stairs and scale the remaining ca. 50m to the top. Its already quite crowded but the view is nonetheless beautiful.
Within 45min I am back at our Rorbu for breakfast (egg toast and fish eggs). Michi and I decide to visit the beach again. This time Kvalvika Beach. We drive to Fredvang – a town with nothing to see – and get the second to last parking spot at the Kvalvika Beach trail. The trail runs over a 200m wind gap, first over wooden planks in wetlands and later over the ubiquitous stones.
The beach is very beautiful; fine sand framed by high cliffs and rough waves.
As it is raining again, we decide to call it a day. We drive back home and relax. We cook fish tacos for dinner, wraps with Saithe and salsa. Then we play cards, relax and go to bed.
Today we sleep in and have a breakfast of champions (saithe and scrambled eggs). With heavy hearts, we return the key to our Rorbu No 10 and leave Reine.
The weather is beautiful, which gives us several opportunities to stop and take pictures.
Our first destination is the glass blower in Vikten. The house lies opposite Flakstad besides a small beach and looks quite special. Inside, two brothers are producing and selling beautiful glassware. We cannot resist and buy a rugged plate with quartz inlays.
After this shopping trip, its finally time to go to Nusfjord. I am quite excited as it has been over 25 years since I have been here with my parents. We pull up to the old houses and it already feels familiar.
We have some of the best weather of the week. As we are early, we explore the town and have cinnamon snacks in the bakery. As our cabin is not ready yet, we decide to go fishing right away. We rent a boat and drive out of the fjord. We catch two good size fish, saithe and cod and continue to fish in front of a small bay to the right of Nusfjord. I start to reel in what feels like a very small fish, when suddenly, there is a strong fight on the line. When the hooks come up, we see that a huge saithe (8-10kg) has bitten on the way up. We bring up four good size fish.
As we have some time, we drive along the coast to Nesland and back. On the way back, we see two sea eagles circling above us.
Back in Nusfjord, we prepare the fish at the cleaning station. Quickly, the usual crowd of tourists gather, taking pictures asking questions. As we have a lot of fish, we give the filets of the smaller fish to a group of younger travelers from Berlin. The bigger ones Michi turns into a delicious fish soup. We have to cook in the parking lot as none of the rooms have kitchens. We eat outside our cabin (31A) and enjoy the evening.
After dinner, we take a short walk to the lighthouse.
Fishing day, what else. After a nice breakfast with a view at the restaurant, we rent a boat and head out on the choppy sea. We do not catch anything at the market GPS location (a few hundred meters out and to the left). However, at our spot we are lucky. Michi spears a beautiful cod and saithe in the eye. Dinner is saved. After a few small fish catch and releases, we decide to go back in. Waves are getting bigger (>1m) and get white tips. Again, we see the sea eagle on our way back.
Back at Nusfjord, Jan gives us tips on how to best filet the fish and we have a chat about the old times at Nusfjord (commercial fishing stopped in 1997. The old fisherman Raider died a while ago,…). Jan takes our dish to Karoline to have them prepare it for us.
We relax with wafels at the Landhandel, as the bakery is closed (and would not open again for the duration of our stay).
We do a quick run to the supermarket at Ramberg to get some beer and snacks. In the evening, we have dinner at Karoline. We have a nice table and they did a fantastic job to prepare our fish. We sit until sunset (past 21:30).
Fishing all the way. We decide to go out again, today. The sea is very calm. There is little current. We have a relaxing fishing morning. Just a few small fish we release again. I snag my line and lose the hooks. We get a replacement rod and go back out.
We catch nothing for 2h. Therefore, we decide to try a last spot, a plateau of 40m right outside (to the left) of Nusfjord, which drops of to 60m. As we drift over the edge, I feel a nibble and a pull. This is a good size fish. Dinner is saved. However, the fight is quite hard. As the fish comes up to the surface, we see that it is a gigantic cod of 15kg. Quite a monster and very untypical for the season. The biggest fish I have ever caught.
With this catch on board, we decide to go back in. After plenty of pictures, we filet the fish; strange feeling as the muscles twitch with every cut. Jan again takes our fish to the restaurant. We keep tongue and cheeks; the best parts, as we did not get to eat them last time. We fry them and have a good taste of our fish.
In the afternoon, we hike to the three lakes above Nusfjord. It is a sunny day, again. Michi waits at the second lake, while I climb to the third lake (not the correct way as it turns out, as I have to climb steep blueberry fields).
Back at Nusfjord, we have a beer overlooking the fjord and then prepare for dinner. We have a nice table again and have a nice evening. Only our portions are very small compared to the filets we brought in. That’s something to improve.
This is the day of goodbyes. I take a last morning walk to the lighthouse After breakfast we pack, check out and walk around the harbor until we can finally decide to leave.
But we do not let up on our last day. Next stop is Lofoten Diving at Ballstad. I have booked a single dive with them. After the briefing, we put on 7mm neoprene and ice vests and go out on the bay.
Despite the thick wetsuite, the water is cold (although it has 10°C). The dive itself is beautiful. We slowly descend over a thick Kelp forest along a wall. We see a lot of small (and a few bigger) Saithe and Cod. On the bottom, we see Turbot and a big crab. There is a wreck of a 1920 fishing vessel at 18m. We can see the small wheelhouse and the large pile of stone that were used as keel weights. On the way up, I spot a Short Spined Sea Scorpion in the Kelp. Quite cool. However, its cold and I am happy to end the dive after 35min.
Michi found a nice restaurant in Ballstad, which is perfect to refule. And its finally an opportunity to eat dried cod. Good, but nowhere near the real, fresh thing.
Now its time to head towars Moskenes. We stop at the large church at Leknes (Buksnes church).
We take opportunity of the beautiful sunshine and take a walk on the beach in Flagstad.
Our final stop is Reine where we enjoy the harbor. As we pull out of Reine, the sun comes out again and we are able to capture some beautiful evening shots.
At Moskenes, we return our car and board the ferry. We are glad to have taken the 20:30 ferry, rather than the midnight boat. And we get to enjoy a beautiful Lofoten rain sunset. It has been a beautiful holiday. We wow to return and become professional fishermen on the Lofoten.
We have a short night at Radisson Blue Bodø. We arrive at 1am – the hotel is in walking distance from the ferry terminal and train station; and we leave at 7am for the airport – the hotel is in walking distance to the airport.
We fly from Bodø to Oslo and from Oslo to Munich and take taxi home. That was a beautiful vacation.