May 05, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer

Through light rain, the towering vastness of the Norwegian fjord lands was revealed to us by the dawn’s illumination. Giant cliffs dwarfed our vessel, as if the ship and the surrounding coastline were on different scales. We reached the end of one of the fjords’ arms, and anchored in Loen under snowcapped mountains.

A number of options were made available at this point, depending on people’s interests, all of which were centered around one of the region’s ice caps, Jostedalsbreen. Some opted to take a short boat journey across a lake, from the coast into the interior, to a viewpoint overlooking one of the arms of the ice cap. No excursion in Norway outside of the true, deep wilderness would be complete, of course, without coffee and some form of pastry. In this case, typically Norwegian waffles.

Those who were in the mood for a bit more of a leg stretch opted to visit another arm of the ice cap, which required a short trek through the narrow valley of Briksdal. This path gradually wound upwards alongside the river of glacial water weaving through the low woodland. The path finally terminated at a glacial lake beneath the hanging Briksdal Glacier. This glacier has receded dramatically in recent years, but is still dramatic in how it creeps down from the ice cap. After some time in the area taking in this spectacle in the company of calling ravens, the group headed back down to enjoy more of Norway’s delights—this time in the form of cakes and coffee.

Back in Loen, where the ship was anchored, one rather special facility was also at our disposal. The skylift, one of the world’s steepest cable cars, took us up over 1,000 meters to look down upon the fjord below. The ship, beneath us, looked miniscule, surrounded by Zodiacs looking like tiny flies. This was a perfect first taste of what Norway has to offer.

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About the Author

Peter Wilson


Peter comes from the town of Cobh, County Cork, on the south coast of Ireland. He is both a working archaeologist and a naturalist.  Growing up and living next to the sea, he developed a fascination with whales and dolphins, along with birds and the broader natural world. Ever varied in his interests, he studied English at University College Cork and went on to complete a master’s degree in Old English. 

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