Exploring Norway by fjord

Photo by Charl van Rooy

Exploring Norway by fjord

Photo by Charl van Rooy

Journeys

Exploring Norway by fjord

It might be a world away from traditional superyacht destinations, but Norway stands out from the crowd when it comes to adventure.

By Gemma Fottles | 3 September 2018

The first time I visited Norway, it was creeping up to winter. I took the famed 371-kilometre rail journey from Oslo to Bergen, straight through the heart of colossal mountains, taking in words-can’t-describe vistas as the hours flew by. I fell in love, but it would be six long years until my next visit. Returning this year, I caught the last of the sweet summer days and took to the water to explore by fjord.

Winter or summer, Norway is, in my humble opinion, one of the planet’s must-see destinations. And, arguably, it’s best enjoyed from the water. That said, Norway is not made for lazy days lounging on a sundeck. Its unpredictable climate makes sure of that. No, Norway by superyacht is a place for adventure, outdoor exploration and nature. Heaps of it.

Exploring Norway by fjord

Photo by Charl van Rooy

Exploring Norway by fjord

Photo by Charl van Rooy

Steeped in rich, brutal, society-shaping history, it’s the home of the Vikings; the Middle-Age warriors that lived, breathed and dominated the harsh landscape. Best known for its majestic fjords in the west, the coastline is saturated with natural harbours where icy water slices through mountains to meet the lush land. It’s not hard to see why superyachts are being drawn here. A day spent cruising through the heart of the snaking fjords is a day spent absorbing mighty, majestic nature at its finest.

And though the axes and battleships of the Vikings may be long gone, the fjords endure and the people that inhabit them today keep that Nordic connection to a raw, natural life very much alive.

Exploring Norway by fjord

Photo by Charl van Rooy

Exploring Norway by fjord

Photo by Charl van Rooy

I begin my journey in Bergen, the unofficial capital of the west, and the gateway to the fjords. Docking in the historic fishing port, we stop off first at Bryggen, a historic harbour district (which has won a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, no less) lined with colourful clapboard houses. After a quick stop to refuel at the city’s 300 year-old fish market (crab baguettes, shrimp skewers, lobster and then some), it’s up to the Fløibanen funicular to the top of Mount Fløyen. It might only be day one, but I’m already on top of the world.

From Bergen, the options are endless – which is half of the attraction of sailing in these waters. We set out to the village of Lofthus, at the end of the Hardangerfjord, arriving at the picture perfect Hotel Ullensvang by sunset. As heavy clouds cleared and the last rays of light peaked over the Folegefonna glacier, it was clear to see why this is one of the most famous hotels in Scandanavia. A late-night swim in the crisp waters of the fjord completes a perfect day.

Exploring Norway by fjord

Photo by Charl van Rooy

Exploring Norway by fjord

Photo by Charl van Rooy

The next day we moved on. After all, there are several superyacht-friendly ports tucked along these snaking fjords. One of the most popular is Flåm, a 230nm cruise from Hardangerfjord. Twenty superyachts have already stopped here this past season, perhaps drawn by the host of activities on its doorstep. Skydive into the cavernous fjords, hike through the mountains or sit back on the famous Flåm rail line and take in the magnificent waterfalls and plunging ravines from a different angle. It’s all here.

Our next stop was the Viking Village in Gudvangen. Sitting at the end of the Nærøyfjord, the village offers a true Viking experience… or as true as it can be 1,000 years after the fact. Sounds like a tourist trap, and that’s partly true. But when the tourists depart, the lucky few arrive by yacht or helicopter for a more intimate encounter. We spent a memorable night listening to old stories spoken into the silence of the fjord, huddled up underneath looming cliffs and thundering waterfalls.

Exploring Norway by fjord

Photo by Charl van Rooy

Exploring Norway by fjord

Photo by Charl van Rooy

Of course, in addition to the rich history and the adrenalin-fuelled activities, a big draw for many is fishing. Norway’s lengthy coastline (one of the longest in the world) is packed with record breaking size salmon, halibut and cod – and fishing is a way of life for the many Norwegians who live by the water.

A short cruise through the still waters of Flåm and the Sognefjorden, leads us to the Lærdal River, a prime salmon fishing spot. Our host here was Rolf Michelsen Bjørum, fifth-generation owner of the river, who sat us down to a delicious Lærdal lunch of sweet cherries and cured goat sausage (the fish would come later), washed down with blueberry juice. Afterwards, we were treated to a whirlwind whip around Lærdal’s hairpin mountain passes by supercar (incongruous, much?) before heading on to the fishing retreat proper, a handful of wood and stone cabins clustered in the secluded forest – a stone’s throw away from the river teeming with fish.

Exploring Norway by fjord

Photo by Charl van Rooy

Exploring Norway by fjord

Photo by Charl van Rooy

Bjørum indulges us with story after story of legendary catches in Lærdal’s waters as night falls and we feast on fresh shrimps and tender venison, rounded off with seemingly bottomless glasses of wine. We went to sleep that night filled with good conversation and a deeper appreciation of the magnificent nature of Norway.

Off-the-beaten-track superyacht cruising has been on the rise for years, and it seems to me as I go to sleep that night, filled with a desire to go and hook some river monsters of my own, that Norway is a pretty accessible answer to quench this rising thirst for adventure.

This mightn’t have been the usual summer cruise – there wasn’t a beach or a bikini in sight – but six years on, it was still the same, special destination to me. And I’ve still barely scratched the surface. Until next time, Norway.

Get a taste of the superyachting good life at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show from 31 October to 4 November.

Sign up for updates




Do you work in the superyacht industry? YesNo
I would like to receive updates from Superyacht Life