Text: Sonja L. Birch-Olsen
Elizabeth is spending her summer holiday touring Norway together with her husband and two children. Today they have decided to try kayaking on the Eidfjord, an arm of the more famous Hardangerfjord, in Hardanger. The trip will start from the small town of Eidfjord.
Peter Scherfel, kayaking instructor from the activity company FlatEarth Adventures, prepares his small group of five for a pleasant trip on the fjord.
- This is an activity most people can do, even landlubbing types who have barely sat in a boat before, assures Peter, before giving an introduction to paddling and safety.
Then it is time for the real deal. The group puts on life jackets and spray skirts, and slide into the kayaks. Elizabeth, who has never been in a kayak before, is somewhat nervous as the experienced guide pushes her kayak onto the fjord. But the water is calm and the kayaks steady, and everyone soon feels safe.
On the fjord
From the cockpit of the tiny boat, nature is experienced up close and very personal. Sitting in a kayak you have a unique possibility of encountering wild life and the majesty of the mountains at close hand.
- The big attraction for me is that kayaking makes you so aware of your surroundings, explains Peter, barely breaking a sweat as he carves the water elegantly with his paddle.
Peter maintains that sea kayaking is a dry sport, though he must be thinking of people who can actually do it. But he is right: Fjord kayaking is all about the journey, the exploration, the sense of being reliant on your own resources. It is the aquatic equivalent of a wilderness trek, minus the heavy rucksack and blistered heels.
However, Peter does not keep dry for too long. Cheered on by the group he demonstrates several Eskimo rolls.
- Wow! That’s something I must practice in the bath tub at home, laughs Elizabeth.
- But seriously, this is really fun and good exercise. I feel so calm as I’m gliding through the water and enjoying the nice views of the mountains and Eidfjord. And the kids love it. This is definitely something we’d like to do again, says Elizabeth.
Her 13-year-old daughter Lauren agrees:
- This is so cool! It’s not as difficult as I thought it would be. It was just like hiking on water. I must go kayaking again, grins Lauren.
FlatEarth Adventures offers both calm three-hour sea kayaking trips on fjords and white water kayaking down different rivers in the Eidfjord area. All trips always start with basic safety instruction, and the guides adjust the paddling according to the skills of the group.
What to wear/equipment
No special clothing is required. However, you might want to wear comfortable trousers or shorts and a T-shirt or jumper. You get quite warm once you start paddling.
All necessary equipment such as paddle, life jacket and spray skirt is provided by FlatEarth Adventures.
15 June – 15 September. Trips on other dates are possible by prior arrangement.
From NOK 420 (includes all necessary equipment)
Getting to Eidfjord
Bergen - Eidfjord via the road rv. 7/fv. 7:
Kvamskogen, Norheimsund and along the Hardangerfjord to Granvin. From Granvin continue to Bruravik where you catch the ferry over to Brimnes. In the summer there are daily ferry departures every 20 minutes, in the winter daily departures every 40 minutes. The ferry trip takes 10 minutes. Brimnes lies around 10 kilometres from Eidfjord. Total travel time: Around three hours.
Bergen - Eidfjord via the road rv. 13:
Drive in the direction of Voss and continue to Bruravik where you catch the ferry over to Brimnes. In the summer there are daily ferry departures every 20 minutes, in the winter daily departures every 40 minutes. The ferry trip takes 10 minutes. Brimnes lies around 10 kilometres from Eidfjord. Total travel time: Around three hours.
Oslo – Eidfjord via the road E18:
Oslo – Drammen, then fv. 40 via Kongsberg to Geilo, then rv. 7 over Hardangervidda. Travel time five to six hours.
Oslo – Eidfjord via the road E16:
Oslo – Hønefoss, then rv. 7 through Hallingdal and over Hardangervidda. Travel time five to six hours.
A little tip: The road rv. 7 between Halne and Steindalsfossen (199 kilometres) holds the status as Hardanger National Tourist Route meaning it is scenic and well worth a drive.
From Oslo: Take the train from Oslo to Geilo, then the bus from Geilo to Eidfjord. The bus service is daily in the period 20 June – 10 September. Outside of this period, you must take the train from Oslo to Voss and then take the bus from Voss to Eidfjord.
From Bergen: Take the train to Voss and then the bus to Eidfjord.
Daily departures from Oslo, Bergen, Larvik, Kristiansand and Haugesund to Eidfjord with Haukeliekpressen. In the period 1 June – 31 August you can also take the bus from Bergen to Norheimsund and then a fantastic journey by boat to Eidfjord.
Distances to Eidfjord
From Bergen: 150 kilometres/93 US miles
From Stavanger: 265 kilometres/165 US miles
From Oslo: 341 kilometres/212 US miles
From Trondheim: 575 kilometres/357 US miles