This trip is the ideal introduction into the magic of Norwegian walking; it is undertaken from several centres using easy transportation on trains and boats in between. From Oslo, you travel by rail to some of the wildest, most spectacular, classic “picture postcard” settings within the realms of Norwegian mountain and fjordland. Many people enjoy taking a leisurely cruise up the coast to see the beauty of the country from below, but on this tour you can be looking down and walking amongst the highlands, a much more engaging experience. The route embraces the famous Hardangervidda area of western Norway where there is the potential for a heady mix of highland walking through the manifestations of the last Ice Age. The retreating glaciers once overwhelmed and molded this landscape; gouging out the great coastal grooves which, with post glacial rising sea levels, have become the fjords. Of these the beautiful Sognefjord is the longest and deepest in the country. There are a wide range of walks to take in the highlands, which lead you right up onto the glaciers edge; it is even possible to go out onto the ice to take an excursion. There are also the lusher walks down into the pastoral settings of the Flam and Aurland Valleys. These are furnished with forests, farmsteads, cascades and churches. All in all an unforgettable experience, especially if the Nordic Gods favor you with good weather and that you read your notes carefully.
We grade this tour as moderate (grade 3), with some challenging options; anyone used to hill walking with a daily height gain/loss of up to 3,300 feet (1000 metres) should find the tour within their capability. Most days are a lot easier than this. There are usually walking options and experienced walkers can of course extend their range if they want to. There may be a chance to do an optional glacier walk from the hotel in Finse, which will require a local payment of about 590 NOK. Although items like crampons are supplied, if you want to do this guided trip, you should at least make sure that your walking boots are stiff enough to be compatible with articulated walking crampons. This option is subject to availability and weather conditions. Day Stages: The duration of walking per day varies. You will have to attend to a morning train (or a ferry transfer) on some days to get you to the next hotel; these are normally under an hour’s journey. So you have to fit in the walking with this. However you will normally be able to spend up to 6 hours happily walking per day in most cases. In Geilo one walking route can be shortened by taking the Geilohogda chairlift (not included) this runs up to mid August. This tour is not suitable for solo travellers.
Make your own way to Geilo. If you are arriving into Oslo today, ensure that you arrive in the morning. The last train you can catch is mid afternoon.
Accommodation: This hotel is the perfect place to relax and is within walking distance from the centre. Rooms are newly renovated and there is a cozy informal atmosphere. Facilities include restaurant, indoor swimming pool, sauna, tennis court, lounge, bar and pub.
Geilo is superbly located by the Hardanger Vidda Mountain Plateau, at 800m above sea level. You can until mid August take the chairlift to access the Hallingskarvet Mountains to reduce the height gain and complete a great introduction walk with great views in reasonable weather. We offer a challenging walk to climb Prestholtskarvet 1859m in the Hallingskarvet, or there is a nice moderate moorland walk, or an easy Lakeside ramble.
Option 1: Ascent of Prestholtskarvet 1863m, 10 km / 6.2 miles, 4 to 6 hours - challenging
Option 2: Prestholtseter- Tuftelia - Vestlia, 14.5 km / 9 miles - 2 hours, moderate
Option 3: Walk around Ustedalsfjorden, 10.5 km / 6.5 miles, 2 to 3.5 hours, easy
Morning train to Finse; a place first populated by British aristocrats before the railways arrived. Then you can undertake a walk across the moorland towards the ice of the Hardanger Glacier for a picnic. Or you can do a return walk along the old railway workers track that connects Finse with Myrdal, where Captain Scott did his winter training for the Antarctic. In good weather, strong walkers may like to attempt the ascent of St. Paul (1700m)
Option 1: Trek to Sankt Pal 1694m, 16 km / 10 miles, 4-5 hours - challenging
Option 2: To the Fagernut along the Rallarvegen, 20 km / 12.5 miles, 5 hours - easy/moderate
Accommodation: Stay for 2 nights at a cosy chalet styled hotel with spectacular views. The hotel is a short walk from the train station. At 1222m, the hotel started as a shelter for the occupants of snow bound trains (now an increasingly rare event). Over the years this cabin has been through many upgrades. Converting it into an extraordinary hotel with the emphasis on outdoor activities within a superb landscape. Rooms are basic but comfortable often with great views. There is a little pub in the basement that has become a bit of a museum with railway memorabilia. There is a relaxation centre with a sauna and ice bath.
On your second day in Finse, choose another walk or if the weather is good, there is the option of doing a local guided crampon walk up on to the glacier. Details on booking are provided in your route notes. Call at least a day in advance to check the status of the walk, as it does not necessarily run everyday and not in poor weather. The walk begins from the hotel / station area and the cost paid locally is: 590 NOK. Equipment is provided, but note that your boots will need to be reasonably stiff to take a crampon. Itineraries and availability will depend on the weather conditions.
This is a classic walk! Hand in your luggage at Myrdal for local train transfer down to Flam station (80 NOK per bag approx, paid locally). The walk down to Flam is beautiful, following the lush valley route, through woods and pastures, always with the sounds of rushing waters. Eventually drop down to the Aurlandsfjord, a branch off Sognefjord.
Accommodation: A cosy basic pension which is located next to the Aurlandsfjord, only 400 m from the famous Flåm railway. The pension is not too ‘flamboyant’ but has an informal atmosphere. There is a room with an open fireplace, TV-lounge and a large garden. The rooms are the most basic of the tour, but are warm and simple ensuite.
A short ferry journey takes you to Aurland for two nights, giving you plenty of time to walk round this beautiful area. There are some little circular walks you can do, or walk up the breathtaking Aurland Valley, using a local bus at the start and end of the walk. In some ways this place is lost in time, from Ovstebo, you can only follow a mule track into the higher pastures, enjoying the sights and sounds of this landscape.
Options of walks over the next two days could include;
Option 1: To Skjerdal return via Bell farm, 13 km / 8 miles, 2 hours, easy/moderate
Option 2: Østerbø - Vassbygdi, 19 km / 12 miles, 6 hours, challenging
Accommodation: Your hotel overlooks the stunning fjords. It is spacious with fine rooms, there is a café bar and the restaurant has a great evening buffet to offer.
Another day to enjoy the walks of the area, otherwise we recommend a four hour fjord cruise (about 295 NOK) into the Sognefjord described as the most beautiful destination in the world by “National Geographical Magazine.”
Depart from Aurland to Oslo. Bus or taxi to Flam and then catch the scenic Myrdal - Flam train, a private line claimed to be the steepest “normal gauge” railway in the World. You should get beautiful views back to Sognefjord and around. At Myrdal, join mainline trains back to Oslo. Local train to airport for late afternoon or evening flights. We would recommend you to have an extra night in Oslo so that you can make the most of what this city has to offer.
Very helpful staff when we had to delay the start of our trip. Will definately consider another Sherpa trip. High points, ascent of St. Paul, walk Myrdal - Flam, Fjord cruising, friendly Norwegians, the train journeys.
R. Ducker, Southam, UK, 15 Aug 2016
Per Person, Twin Share