A dramatic and mysterious place, huge in expanse and sparse in population, Norway is the place to explore dynamic landscapes, challenging hikes, Fjord paths and more mountains than you can shake a stick at. Norway is a country for wonderers! Not the cheapest but for those in love with outdoors this slice of Scandinavia has it all...
Truth be told we didn't know much about Norway before we arrived. We recognised it's huge expanse, it's light summers and dark winters and high cost but very little about the people, it's outdoor culture and unbelievable quality of life it offers it's residents. This is a place that will appeal to outdoorsy types who want a holiday intertwined with nature. The Norwegians have an excellent relationship with their environment and they are more than happy to share and advise tourists on how to enjoy it. We found the people to be funny too, with most perfect English we've heard in Europe. On the other hand travelling around Norway can be tough as many of the bus timetables seem indecipherable, for example a bus we were waiting for had an arrival time on the board of 3.15pm but when you ask another bus driver he gave a totally different, and yet correct, timing. If you're in Norway and need help, just ask, everyone is so friendly.
Next you can see a map of our one and half week trip. We flew into Oslo airport and the train we needed to travel up to Otta could be embarked on from the airport, so simple right? We actually failed to realise this and bought an extra ticket into Oslo city centre only to board the same train we could have got from the airport, all for extra cost of £45 (450 Nok). This, in a way, summed up one of the things you will need to watch out for in Norway. Cost is ever present especially for travellers, backpackers and those on a budget. We have written a piece on how to save cash in Norway here: How To Cut Costs In Norway
Jotunheimen National Park
We camped in a lovely campsite a short walk from Otta train station on the first night, the lady that run it gave us free gas upon arrival, what a lady! We then awoke early the next morn to board a bus to Sundbrau and then a second bus to Gjendsheim, which is a major entry point to the Jotunheimen park and home to Besseggen. Besseggen is a coming of age experience for all Norweigens from the South of the country; a mighty ridge that runs next to a fjord. The walk can be started from the Gjendsheim or most choose to boat down the fjord to Memurubu and start the 8 hour trek from there. We were blown away by Besseggen, not neccessarily a difficult trek but easily one of the most satisfying we have completed. Luckily the weather was excellent for the majority of the day allowing us to soak up its awe and beauty. Remember to prepare for any long mountain treks by bringing warm clothes, food, water, waterproofs, first aid kit, whistle and sturdy boots and a good jacket, always check the weather!
You can check out some of our photographs over at the gallery page here: Norway Gallery
After a thorough drenching and some free wild camping, we left Jotunehiemen to the incredibly busy gateway of Lom. You will need to visit Lom to enter the park and from here we used the supermarket to stock up on our provisions and caught another bus across to Solvorn, a sleepy village on the Sognejford. Here we stayed at Eplet, which is a beautiful fruit growing and pressing business, campsite, bnb and general fun place. We really couldn't recommend it enough! Go Now! We liked it so much we wrote a whole piece on it, read on here:
From Eplet there are many things to do. Just in case you haven't read the article above we'll list some now: walking the local treks around Solvorn, drinking Eplet's fruit juices, renting bikes to Urnes, trekking up Molden and visiting the Nigardsbreen glacier. There was so much more to do but time fell short and on we went to our final stop, Oslo.
To get back to Oslo we booked a coach from Lom; meaning we needed to take the same route back that we traversed from. Although we forgot to say that the Solvorn to Lom coach ride is one of the most beautful coach rides ever. It winds through snow capped mountains, into valleys besides fjords and is definite must if you find yourself there. The final coach from Lom to Oslo took 7 hours and ran like clockwork, like all transport in Scandinavia.
We finished our trip with some culture in city and Oslo is a fine city. Lots of beautiful modern architecture, galleries, marinas, shopping and eating are all widely available. In particular we loved the public art that could be found all over the city, for free. You can see them for yourself here by looking through our blog post on:
Speaking as Mali, we were missing the beautiful countryside and found Oslo a little expensive and high-end for backpacking vibes, we also found out after a few cans of beer in their parks that drinking outside is illegal, so Berlin it is definitely not! That said we experienced some excellent culture which you can read about here:
Our equipment has been honed for an around the world trip, so our packing has been considered for the long term. Some of the following equipment will not apply for those seeking a short break of days or weeks. Still this should give you an idea of what is required for camping and hiking in in Norway.
Outdoor Jacket / walking boots / walking socks / snood / packet pants / hat / quick drying clothes / underwear / backpack we had (70L / 60L bags) / 3 season tent / 3 season sleeping bags / roll mat / inflatable pillow / water sacks (2 litres each) / hob / gas / pots and pans / cups / sporks / toileteries / basic supplies of food / SLR camera / Gopro / first aid kit / ear plugs / sun cream / eye mask for light sleepers
Purchasing a high quality water and windproof jacket is a must, ideally Gortex. The weather changes so quickly that having a good jacket with a peaked hood and lots of pockets is super useful. Snoods are handy for quick coverage during a weather blip and they can be left around the neck the rest of the time. Hat and gloves are essential as it can get very chilly in the evening or at the top of the mountains. if you are trekking during their summer (June to Sept) 2/3 season kit will assure comfort when needed.
We brought packet pants, waterproof trousers, which we definitely used a couple of times, keeping those pins dry! Lest we forgot, decent walking boots that are comfortable and waterproof. We were also big fans of synthetic shirts / long sleeves tops as they dry very quickly.
We found camping in Norway really easy and were able to turn up on the day for our whole stay in the national parks and surrounding towns and villages we visited. This meant our travel around the fjords was flexible and could adjust to changes in weather.
We brought our 3 seasons tent, roll mats and sleeping bags. We paid extra for lightweight, effective kit and it was worth it. We especially loved our Berghaus Tent which stayed rock solid during windy nights, it was also super quick to take down the next day.
You can read more about camping experiences in the blog post:
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