Skip to main content
The best part is the silence. I like living in the city, and I think it's fun to go to a café or the cinema. But at the same time, it's nice to get away and not hear the rush of the traffic.

Espen Andreas Nielsen

Hiking enthusiast

When you are hiking, you also start to think very simply. All you need is shelter, water, food and some rest. Basic things that you maybe take for granted in everyday life.

Hiking across Norway

With Espen Andreas Nielsen

Have you ever dreamed of just letting go of your everyday life, packing your most important things and walking into nature for days – or even months? Espen did exactly that when he started his 53-day-long trip from east to west.

Crossing Norway at its widest – 640 km

When crossing Norway, there are at least as many routes to choose from as there are kilometres on the journey. At its narrowest, you may be able to walk the route in 35 minutes, while the longest stretches require months. The most important thing is to choose a route according to your own motivation, time, and, not least, skill level.

When Espen crossed Norway at its widest point at the age of 26, only accompanied by his dog Maja, it was not the first long trip he had taken alone. Three years earlier, he cycled the length of Norway solo, a 2,518-kilometre journey from the North Cape to Lindesnes.

"I want to do something that not everyone can do. Something that is basically difficult to achieve. At the same time, perhaps the most important motivation is the nature experiences. I love being out in nature," says Espen.

Ready to go

In Summer 2016, both he and his dog were ready to set out. The route planned for the long expedition was as follows:

Start south of Femundenpaddling across the lake from Elgå – ferry to Sæter – hike through the Rondane, Dovrefjell, and Tafjord mountains, cross the Sunnmøre alps – finish at West Cape in Stad.

Want to plan your hiking trip straight away? Check out how to hike across Norway in 30 minutes or 30 days!


When Espen was planning the route, he wanted it to pass through the widest possible part of Norway. In addition, he wanted to be alone as much as he could.

"Being on a long trip alone is a challenge in itself, and one that I wanted to face. But no matter where you choose to go, there are national parks or roads with other visitors, so I deliberately added routes where the chance of meeting others was minimal."

At the same time, he sometimes had to visit some tourist cabins and meeting points to pick up food that had been sent ahead in advance. 

What Espen, now 32, was most nervous about before leaving was the navigation. He did not choose the easiest option when it came to that, either.

"You can always have GPS and follow it, but for me, it gives a stronger feeling of mastery to find your way with a map and compass. It makes the trip a little more real. It was a big challenge. Another challenge was the long walks every day with a heavy backpack that weighed around 35 kilos," he says.

You need a lot of equipment and food to go on a long trip, with many nights spent sleeping in the outdoors. You should therefore be prepared to carry a heavy backpack, and only pack the essentials. Check out Espen's best tips for a good hiking trip!

Espen always checks the weather forecast before going on longer expeditions, and we can see why – there is nothing like camping with a view like this in sunshine. 

Set aside some time to go fishing underway. Norway has so many good fishing spots, and fresh trout prepared on the campfire tastes fantastic!

Respecting the wildlife

There were several surprises that popped up during the 54-day trip. Among other things, Espen and his dog Maja saw lots of animals, including the rare musk oxen, while crossing Dovrefjell. Espen described the experience in his travel diary:

"On the way up, we encountered several musk oxen, including a cow with a calf and a cow ox, which were in the middle of our route. It was an incredible experience to have them so close to us, but we made sure to stay outside the safety radius of about 200 metres. We therefore waded a bit (swam, in Maja's case) across the river again to avoid them."

Musk oxen are not normally aggressive animals, but can be provoked if you get too close to the herd. If you want to experience musk ox up close, join a Musk Safari, as you will then enjoy a trip together with an experienced guide.

"Zen mode"

For Espen, as for many others, trips into the wilderness are mostly about disconnecting from everyday life. But to achieve this, one thing is important, he says:

"If I'm going on a trip into the wilderness, I have to be away for several weeks, not just a long weekend. Only then can I really get the time to relax and enjoy myself, and not worry about returning to normal life again in three days. Just really get into Zen mode."

Still, it's not just life on the trail that makes Espen stay faithful to his hobby.

"It's firstly the hiking and nature experiences I am looking for, but also on a bit more superficial level, it means something to be able to say that I have achieved the goal I set myself. It is a motivational driver. It was therefore actually just as important to get to West Cape and stand there."

A recent interest

Espen's fascination with the outdoors is relatively recent.

"Like me, you don't necessarily have to be born and raised in an "outdoors family" to be good at this, you can start on your own later. First a weekend, then maybe a week, and so on. You test it out and learn," he says.

After hearing about others who had walked the long route from Femunden to West Cape, he was so fascinated that he decided he would complete the same trip himself within three years.

"I then started practising pitching a tent, building a fire, navigation, and all the basic skills one should have to survive alone," he explains.

Espen's best hiking tips

The 32-year-old has gained a lot of experience when it comes to travelling alone and sleeping in a tent for days. Here is his most important advice:

1. Check the weather forecast.

"In my eyes, the weather is a prerequisite for a good trip. It is not cool to just walk in rain, wind and fog. It does something to your mood, and you will not enjoy the moment as much as you might have."

2. Energy-dense food.

"Bring food that contains lots of energy. You can prep muesli or something similar yourself and mix it with powdered milk. Otherwise, I often buy dry-tech food."

3. Wear good shoes and a backpack that fits well.

"In addition to maps and compasses, and perhaps a GPS, the main equipment focus should be on good hiking shoes and a good backpack. If you do not have that, you will have a terrible trip. But if you do get blisters, I can recommend blister patches with linen tape, or sports tape, on the outside, covered by a women's nylon stockings that you cut off, and finally a sock on top. It is the friction and sweat that cause chafing, so this helps."

4. Good tent and sleeping pad.

"It is not nice to lie in a tent that has a bad water column or poor ventilation. Of course, you want to survive, but a trip should be about more than surviving — you go to enjoy yourself."

5. Learn step by step.

"Do you want to go on a trip alone, but think it's a little scary? Try practising with a friend by sleeping separately a short distance away from each other, so you cannot see each other. This helps you gain self-confidence, and you can try more alone later."

Where do you want to cross Norway?

5 ways to hike across Norway

Find hikes all over Norway

Explore the map and find hiking suggestions in the area you are planning to visit.

Your recently viewed pages