Please welcome our next guest blogger, Tomasz Furmanek. He is an avid kayaker and photographer. His shots are to say the least nothing short of awesomeness, believe you me! Chances are you have seen his amazing photographs on Instagram, Facebook, Homepage or somewhere else on the worldwide web.
If you want to get some firsthand tips and tricks to kayak the Fjords of Norway by day, and sleep like a baby in an Amok Draumr hammock by night, then this is for you! Oh, and be sure to catch the breathtaking video edit further down in the blog. That is, if you want to see some of the planets most dope footage to date.
By Tomasz Furmanek
Nærøyfjorden and Aurlandsfjorden are two scenic fjords located in the Aurland area in Sogn og Fjordane in Norway (press here for Map). This area is a very popular location for kayaking and hiking. It is suitable for both day trips and longer camping trips with kayak. In the Aurland area the fjords are surrounded by steep mountains and thundering waterfalls.
When the weathers nice I prefer to bring my hammock to this area as this gives me more options regarding camping both by the fjord and higher up in the mountains up to 700 meters’ elevation. The landscape looks untamed and wild, but the fjords are easy to explore by kayak even for beginners.
Amok Draumr on Aurlandsfjellet with view towards Aurlandsfjorden
For those that do not want to kayak the 37km long scenic fjord tour from Gudvangen to Flåm, the alternatives are ferries or tourist boats. There are many hiking trails from the villages by the fjord. The Aurlandsfjord voyage is 20km long and starts in Flåm,
with the villages of Aurlandsvangen and Undredal along the way. Nærøyfjord is a 17km fjord-arm of Aurlandsfjord that ends in Gudvangen. The area surrounding the Nærøyfjord is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Flåm and Gudvangen are villages easily accessed by car or bus as they are located along one of the main roads between Bergen and Oslo. Flåm is also accessible by train from Oslo and Bergen through Myrdal mountain station (867 meters). The Flåm Railway from Myrdal to Flåm, is one of the steepest train lines in the world.
Both Flåm and Gudvangen have kayak rentals and easy access to the fjord. The two other villages in this area, Aurlandsvangen and Undredal, are alternative starting points for shorter trips as they also have kayak rentals with easy access to the fjord.
Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord are usually crowded in the summer season. During late summer the temperature in the fjord is suitable for swimming. Late spring or early fall is less crowded and usually the best time to go kayaking in this area. During winter the fjords are usually calmer,
Since there is less traffic compared to the summer months. A dry suit and warm clothes are recommended during the winter months since the water temperatures are low. In the cold winter months, there may be ice in Nærøyfjord near Gudvangen.
Stegastein is a viewpoint located at 640m elevation on the way from Aurlandsvangen to Aurlandsfjellet. There are several good hammock spots near the viewpoint and a lot of others more remote spots higher above the viewpoint. When the weather is nice I usually come here in the evening to take photos. This is a very nice photography spot and with some luck one may experience the northern lights here when the Aurora activity is high. I usually sleep in my Amok Draumr 3.0 hammock here since this area is more suitable for hammocks than tents.
Aurlandsfjellet is a rocky mountain plateau without trees, but the areas surrounding the fjords has trees up to about 700 meters with scenic hammock spots. Since the mountains surrounding the fjords are steep there is more sun higher up in the morning. Another nice place high above Aurlandsvangen is the area near the Hovdungo farm, that can be accessed from Vikesland by the road between Aurlandsvangen and Flåm. I have never camped there, but have seen a lot of nice hammock spots there.
Gudvangen is a small village at the end of Nærøyfjord. There is a kayak rental in the village with guided kayak tours from Gudvangen. During summer, there is a historical Viking camp in the valley and it is sometimes possible to see a Viking ship on the fjord.
There is a very nice farm with a lot of goats on the south side of the fjord. It is a private farm with many old buildings and the owners do not mind that people walk there to take photos of the area. Please respect the privacy of the inhabitants and follow the signs in the area.
If you do not want to paddle the whole Nærøyfjord, you can also drive a narrow road along this fjord from Nærøyfjord to the village of Bakka. There are a few farms here and people live here the whole year. During winter and spring one should be aware of avalanche danger in this area. Bakka is my favorite starting point when I only have a few hours for kayaking and want to see the best parts of the fjord. This is also usually the calmest part of the fjord.
In the morning and the evening, you can experience calm conditions where you will get the reflections in the fjord. There are few parking spots near Bakka, but it is usually possible to park where at the beginning of the trail to Rimstigen, about one km past Bakka. This is the starting point for several scenic hikes where, you can see the fjord from the high peaks that surround the fjord. The most popular peaks from the Rimstigen path are Bakkanosi and Breiskrednosi.
Dyrdal is a small village in Nærøyfjord about half way through the Nærøyfjord. This area can only be reached by boat or kayak, or a very long hike over the mountains. The easiest access to mount Breiskrednosi is from this village. There are several small beaches and tent spots between Dyrdal and Bakka. Salthella is the largest beach with,
here you can find camping spots for tents. During summer this beach is usually crowded as it is used by the companies that provide multiday kayaking trips. There are however some nice hammock locations higher up above the beach that are more isolated. The view from the top is very nice.
Undredal is a small village by Aurlandsfjorden in Sogn known for its goats and goat cheese. It is a 25 km paddle from Gudvangen but can also be reached through tunnels with a 15km drive by car. The water conditions in Aurlandsfjord are usually more rough than in Nærøyfjorden due to more boat traffic and wind. You can also reach Undredal by either taking a guided RIB boat tour with Fjord safari or a tourist ferry from Flåm. It has a shop where you can buy goat cheese, camping, and a small hotel with a pub.
During summer, you can see goats by the fjord near Undredal. You can visit the nearby mountain farm Stigen, located at 350 m elevation a few km north of the village. It is easiest reached by kayak or boat, but can also be reached by a longer hike over the mountain in late summer and fall. If you decide to visit Stigen farm, you can hike further up to mount Beitelen, and experience the view of both Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord from above.
I usually pack my Amok Draumr 3.0 hammock with the EXPED sleeping mat inside of the hammock. I keep it in a larger waterproof bag in my kayak. It only takes a few minutes to hang up the hammock and pump air into the mat. I often use it for breaks during the day when I am alone. It is very practical when I am waiting for better weather or better light conditions when I take photos. The tarp offers good protection when it is raining, if I can find a location not too exposed to the wind.
Many parts of the fjords in western Norway are steep and exposed to snow and rock avalanches. In Fjords, it is often easier to find a good hammock location than a good tent spot, especially if you want a scenic view. Many of the tent spots are often occupied during tourist season, but there are few people with hammocks, and therefor easier to find a nice place to hang up my hammock. Sleeping in a hammock is not for everybody, but I sleep well in a hammock and prefer it to a tent when the weather is nice.
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