That time we camped through Norway climbing up and washing in ice cold fjords.
When? August 2017
With whom? Theo, a friend from uni
We were aware in advance that Norway was expensive but we never anticipated shop bought sandwiches for the equivalent of £14. We ate for sustenance rather than pleasure on this trip! Theo and I flew into Stavanger, which has a great hostel called Pop Up hostel and a lot of street art. We looked up and followed a street art tour of the city, as it was free! There were so many different pieces that fascinated us and showcased some real talent!
In the hostel, Esther was giving us tips for which ferry to get and from where for the cheapest price.
As planned, we waited duly at the bus stop the next morning after spending far too much money on a disappointing pastry for breakfast, as it was the last shop we would come across for a while. We waited, checked the time and waited some more thinking the bus is probably just running late.
After denial always comes acceptance, and eventually we accepted that the bus was not coming. We had to make this ferry, it was the only one all day! We managed to get a different bus into town and changed for another to take us to the big bus station and from the bigger bus station there were no buses. In my mind, the sole purpose of a bus station is to provide buses, but there were none. I’m not talking about no buses to our destination, there were no buses at all. Here, we met two aussies who were in a similar situation, so we shared a taxi down to the harbour.
The ferry took us up Lysefjord and the four of us were in awe of the views. Crystal clear and sparkling blue water glistened in the sunlight as the edges slowly climbed up to form the side of a mountain. Greens and blues demanded our attention as we were almost blown off the boat by the wind.
The four of us got off at a place called Florli, pronounced “fleur-lee”. Theo and I set up camp then made our way to the top of the fjord via that famous 4444 steps. Most mountain trails zig zag across the plane so that the path is never really that steep, but not these steps. Imagine drawing a straight line from the base of a mountain to the top. This was our trajectory. The steps are tiny which is great for me, but the sheer volume of them made it a tough climb. Calves were burning.
The view from the top was worth it. We could see down the edge of the fjord in both directions. The water in Norway is a very beautiful deep blue that makes every view breathtaking. We ran around at the top, having it completely to ourselves, placing rocks on towers and climbing on whatever we could find to see whether it proffered a better view.
We headed down to get back to camp before sundown and walked for a little bit on an abandoned pipe.
Each night consisted of swigging neat vodka from the duty free bottle and playing cards. We invited two Americans who were also camping to play with us and ranted about Trump together. As you can imagine, this took a while.
Our next stop in Lysefjord was Lysebotn, right at the end of the fjord and as far as the ferry would take us. We pitched our tent here slightly away from the campsite as it was so expensive. There’s a law in Norway that allows you to camp on uncultivated land for two nights. We took advantage of this after coughing up 95 kroner each for camping at Florli. The bad side is not having access to the facilities when hiking all day.
This hike took us up to the Kjerag. It was a good hike which takes you up to come down to go back up again! There were chains for part of it as the path was sometimes on an almost vertical face, but we found that rather than wait for a free chain to hoik ourselves up, we could run up the face if we had enough momentum. Sometimes this was successful and other times it was not, but it was always funny. I’m sure you will have seen plenty of people on the rock wedged between the canyon and thought there must be a way to get on to that. There is, but it requires a bit of a jump. A jump across to the rock suspended HIGH in the air above nothing but the ice cold water in the fjord below. People were scared and I had to help a few people across so that they could snap their iconic tinder photo.
We had our super gross home made sandwiches at the top here. Tomatoes seemed like a good idea at the time, and so did the cheapest bread. Together they formed this sort of orange paste with the texture of sand. They were grim. We couldn’t afford decent food because it was extortionate!
On our way down, the small section of snow caught our fancy and we played around with the lakes. We also told people who were very close to the top that they were “almost half way” and were doing “really well”. I realise that was mean.
At the campsite we ran into super helpful Esther from the Pop up hostel! She willingly took our last sandwich that neither of us could stomach having lived off them for three days. More fool her. We also shared the remainder of our duty free vodka whilst playing cards turned into drinking games! Eventually we’d had enough each to think that washing in the fjord was a good idea. It wasn’t.
Info: Norway is EXPENSIVE. I’m not exaggerating, it was ludicrous. Save up before you go. It can be done on the cheap but even our supermarket shop, where we deliberately bought the cheapest option, came to more than we were willing to spend on food. Use the law to your advantage and wild camp wherever possible. Flights from the UK aren’t bad in terms of price and are quick! Do NOT get a taxi into town from the airport. I read that it would cost about £18 but it was closer to £50. I’d recommend staying at the pop up hostel, it had a great vibe, was comfortable and good facilities.
Tip of the week: If you know that you’re going into an expensive country then stock up on goods at the airport! I don’t just mean alcohol, you can get edible goods too. It saved us money in Norway.
Product of the week: Theo brought with him a selfie stick and I scoffed at him, but after a bunch of photos I had to concede it was great for over head shots to get us and the view of the fjord in! I am ashamed to say that I have been converted.