Leaving Bergen behind, we ventured inside the fjord country on a road towards Sogndal and beyond…
And off we went… through countless tunnels piercing through Norway.
Early morning mists over one of the fjords – note the snow patches in the mountains…
It might be early, but not for this cheery viking dude 🙂
As we were driving along, the lanscape became more and more mountanious with numerous waterfalls…
…and rivers running along the valleys.
Entry to the vast and spectacular West Norway Fjord area – UNESCO’s World Heritage Area
It so fascinating how in Norway, the landscape changes so dramaticly by just driving around the corner
At one time you are driving through narrow glacier valleys…
…which seem neverending…
…and all of a sudden, a fjord appears in front of you.
Lærdal road tunnel – the longest road tunnel in the world!
Architect was clever enugh to break up monotony of driving in a tunnel by creating such galleries every few kilometeres…
which are all “painted” by different colours of light, so you are in constant anticipation of the next colour and the drive through feels like a breeze.
And as soon as you exit the tunnel, the Sognefjord greets you. This is the longest fjord in Norway reaching 205km inland from the ocean.
Bright red Sogndal’s Stedje church with graveyard.
Beside the chuch stands a rune stone from aprox. year 1100. The inscripton says: “King Olav shot between these stones”.
The main target of our first full day in Norway was a climb up to Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) cliff. Probably the most famous cliff in Norway (besides Trolltunga) and much more accessible to the masses. Luckily, September is a month, when crowds disappear and although there were people up there, it was not as crowded as it can get in the summer months.
Recently, Preikestolen featured in the final scene of final episode of Season 2 of History Channel Vikings series, with King Ragnar Lothbrok sitting on the cliff.
Parking at the foot of the Preikestolen trek. Parking costs 100kr for cars and prepare to have change with you.
Informative sign of what lays ahead of you. While it says 2 hours of walk, we climbed in 1.5hrs with a rather poor physical condition at the time. There are two steeper parts, one right at the beginning and the other one just before the 2km mark.
Typical Scandinavian forest greets you most of the way, but you will enjoy limited views of the fjord just at the start of the tour. Oh and don’t be affraid of zip-liners over your head.
One of the steeper, rockier parts. Good footwear is essential and even more so, when there’s bad weather.
Soon after climbing the second bigger and at the same time steepest climb, the terrain flattens and you are greeted by two lakes.
Surrounding views from there are just spectacular… It feels like you’ve entered some other dimension… maybe even some Lord of the Rings movie.
Did I mention spectacular before?
Almost at the top of the climb.
As you reach the top, the path gets narrow and follows the curve around the top of the mountain. There are some cracks along the way.
A view of the Lysefjord, just before reaching the Preikestolen.
And finally, the Preikestolen in sight! And what a sight it is!
A crack on the plateau – ultimately, the cliff will fall down into the Lysefjord but geologists say that this will not happen in the foreseeable future.
While on top, a Search and Rescue Eurocopter arrived, responding to an emergency call near the Preikestolen.
Some are more brave than others, but I didn’t want to risk vertigo at the edge of the 604m vertical fall to the fjord.
A view of the Lysefjord towards the East.
When we arrived to the plateau, we noticed almost anyone who arrives, jumps near the edge, while someone else is taking photo of their feat. Initially, that was not our plan, but then a man approached us with a photo request and after we took photo of his jumping family, he insisted he will return the favor. So we did jump after all!
Saying last goodbyes to this amazing geological work of Nature.
Arriving to the Oslo Gardermoen airport in the afternoon, we picked up our rental Volvo and took the road to the South – to Kristiansand on the southernmost tip of the country. Driving experience was similar to Swedish one – calm drivers with fluid, speed limit respecting traffic – a real joy to drive on such roads.
After a short night’s sleep in a camp, just outside of Kristiansand, we were greeted by a sunny morning and the dawn brought a symbolic start of our Norwegian experience.
You can’t get a better start of a journey than this – sunlit calm waters of mini fjord by the camp.
Rocks covered by bushes, moss and lichen and a view of the North sea.
Small house in the little fjord – must be the pirate’s stronghold 😉
Our goal for today was reaching Stavanger, but in the process, see the southern part of the country and the prize of the day, climb and see the famous Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) cliff.
It is not likely, that you will drive really fast in Norway. Usual out-of-the-town speed limit is 80km/h so plan your travel times well ahead with plenty of reserve.
As we went along, landscape changed from rather flat to quite hilly.
Some clouds threatened to spoil our good weather luck by this fjord.
But soon the sun prevailed and the bright house colors started to reflect in the lakes.
Did I mention reflections before? Yes, Mirror like reflections!
Peaceful farms with mountains in the background.
The scenery started to become more and more beautiful.
And countless lakes and rivers spread between fjords and mountains. It’s hard to find such a picteresque place, that just goes on and on…
Below the steep mountain side towards even more mountains.
Glacier valleys and a multitude of colours – driving long distances as we did is a breeze with the scenery like this!
Just a short ride to the Preikestolen starting point – waiting for the short ferry ride. Bridge connects both sides of Lysefjord.
Tightly packed for 10 minutes and we are off towards new adventures.
Small island at the beginning of the Lysefjord.
Following a good night’s rest at Göteborg’s hostel, we headed north. First to satisfy my aviation needs, we visited Göteborgs Aeroseum (which will be presented in a separate post) and then headed north through West coast archipelago.
Just to visualize 3rd day’s trip. I have to admit, a tour of Aeroseum took (unsurprisingly) longer than planned, which meant we were on a rush a bit.