Inspiration triggers adventures. I believe that’s what happened when I read an article last February about photos and kayak adventures in Fjords along the Norwegian coast. 3 clicks later, I was checking flight prices for the Lofoten Islands, Northern Norway. Located almost 200km north of the arctic circle, seven islands form an archipelago known for its dramatic mountains and peaks, white sand beaches and untouched wilderness.
August, 1st. After three flights, I finally landed in Bodø, on the north-west coast of Norway. The city is the gateway to the Lofoten and while waiting for the ferry that would finally bring me to my destination, I soon realized I had never been that far North before. When crossing the hundred kilometers of Norwegian Sea separating Bodø and Moskenes, Lofoten, I suddenly felt at peace and incredibly happy to start a new adventure … !
The Southern part of the Lofoten is meant to be the most majestic. Mountains and sharp peaks seem to be rising from nowhere, the coast is rugged but looks stunning as seen from the sea. The sun was still high when we arrived in Moskenes and I headed toward Munkebu hut where I had planned to spend my first night. The day were still really long as the midnight sun season just ended a week before, rewarding the late hikers with beautiful sunset colors.
I woke up the next morning to see Hermannsdalstinden, the highest mountain in the area, hidden by clouds. Knowing it would be dangerous to attempt the summit in these conditions, I ran up Munken on the opposite side of Tennesvatnet lake hoping for a good panorama of this stunning mountain range. The view up there was amazing and I could have spent the day exploring the area! Temperatures were really enjoyable and perfect for hiking and running. The Lofoten are known for what is thought to be the largest temperature anomaly in the world, mainly due to the Gulf Stream, summers are pleasant and winters are surprisingly mild relative to its latitude (between the 67° and 68° parallel north …!).
Coming down from Munken Summit, I folded up my camp and headed back to Sorvagen where I would spend the night. The hike back was as stunning as the way up to Munkebu, the area is filled with lakes, waterfalls and streams surrounded by rocky summits. I now understand why the Lofoten are often referred as a hikers’ paradise … !
After hiking up Tindstinden, I took the bus to Reine, once elected the most beautiful village in Norway. And indeed, the scenery there is mind-blowing. Reinebringen, the famous mountain overlooking the village and its Fjords, offers a breathtaking 360° panorama. The hike to the summit is tough and hazardous as the slope is really steep and rock or land slides may occur (local guides recommend not to attempt the hike until a safer way is built). But when you get there … well no words needed to describe that view. However better safe than sorry, I wouldn’t recommend to attempt it in case of bad weather or if you’re not used to mountain environment… !
The village itself is really enjoyable, stroll around its rorbuer, the typical colorful houses once (and still) used by fishermen and built on land and water. Local adventure companies also offers a wide range of activities depending on the season, including stand up paddle, kayak, wildlife tour, ski touring, …etc. Wait for the last light of the day to enjoy the peaceful beauty of the area once the tourists and bus tour are gone.
After three days, the weather forecast was still good so I decided to head north and try to get to Kvalvika beach, meant to be one of the Lofoten’s most iconic beach. The local bus dropped me in Fredvang where I began my hike as the beach is only reachable by foot. As I headed to the west, the green rolling hills and Selfjorden reminded me of Ireland and the Connemara National Park. A few streams crossing later, my wet feet and I reached a pass and the sign post indicating the way down to Kvalvika and the way up to Ryten, a famous summit overlooking the area. Minutes later, Kvalvika (the whale’s beach in Norwegian) appeared and I was immediately amazed by its beauty. Turquoise water, golden sand and vertical cliffs formed a superb display of what you could expect when visiting the Lofoten. The night stay there was epic!
Rain and sheep woke me up the next morning, I packed my stuff and climbed the other pass leading to the Selfjord’s shoreline and back to Fredvang. The good weather window was gone so I decided not to go further North and skip the fishermen village of Nusfjord to hitchhike back to Reine instead. A warm coffee and a few cookies later, my cold feet and wet pants were long forgotten and I headed to Å, the last village reachable by car south of Moskenes. I spent my last three days there, recovering from my hikes, my head filled with memories, enjoying the end-of-the-world atmosphere and Å history. A perfect way to rest the mind before the trip back home.
These 10 days were a great experience and only grew my interest for the many travel and adventures opportunities Norway offers. Limited by the length of my stay I focused on the southern part of the Archipelago but I heard the North is worth the detour as well. Kayaking the area or tramping for weeks along the islands, just like two inspiring adventurers I’ve met there, are only a glance of the kind of experience you could live when visiting the Lofoten Islands. And apparently, the winter season comes with exciting wildlife, the same sharp peaks covered in snow, and Auroras …, which mean you might need to pay them a visit more than once.