Kayaking the Narrowest Fjord in the World - Nærøyfjord
What does kayaking the narrowest fjord on our planet and a UNESCO World Heritage Site look like? When I first arrived at the kayak base in Gudvangen, I couldn’t believe my eyes - literally jaw dropping how beautiful this entire surrounding landscape is. The best part was that I got to call this my place my ‘work’ for two whole months and I am forever grateful to have that opportunity and to have met all the wonderful people on my tours while working with some fantastic guides. I still remember my first time kayaking out on Naeroyfjord, l was drooling over this Mountain-Waterfall-Fjord heaven.
Norway is becoming a popular destination, despite its notorious reputation for rainy weather and its wallet burning prices, you cannot deny that the landscapes of Norway are just out of this world. It’s a haven for outdoor lovers who don’t mind braving some harsh conditions, it’s also a photographers paradise with endless photo opportunities. I could rave on forever about Norway’s beauty but I need to keep some content for future posts so today I’m going to share with you a kayaking experience along the stunning Naeroyfjord. If you’re flying into Bergen and planning a trip to the well-known Flam and Aurland, or passing through Voss - you definitely have to visit this place. It is breathtaking and far less touristic than any of those other places. If you have some extra time and extra cash… I would highly highly recommend a guided kayak tour on the Naeroyfjord. I’ve also attached a map at the bottom with the main points pinned so you have some sort of geographical idea. Without further ado… read on for some serious travel lust!
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE NAEROYFJORD
Naeroyfjord is just around the corner from Flam and Aurland, two rather popular tourist spots. It’s also one of the many sub-branches from the world’s deepest and 2nd longest fjord - the Sognefjord. But despite being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I feel like not many people know about this little gem because when they see it on the map, it just looks so small and insignificant next to the Aurland and Sognefjord. However, I’m also secretly hoping it stays like that and doesn’t blow up too much because that’s kind of what makes it so special. Interesting fact: there is no road access after the village of Bakker. After that point, you can only discover the rest of the fjord on water either by kayak or boat/ferry. From the base of Gudvangen, you have the option of doing guided kayak tours with Nordic Ventures, which also offer multi day tours where you go camping and hiking. I will elaborate on this shortly.
When is the best time to go?
The weather was ridiculously fantastic during the summer of 2018 with temperatures reaching 30+ degrees Celsius and a total of 3 ‘rainy’ days in one particular month (which is not good for waterfalls by the way), but I heard they had quite the opposite in 2017. Therefore, it’s really unpredictable and makes it hard to say which month is best to visit. In terms of wind, however, because the fjord is so narrow and the surrounding mountains rather high - it creates an excellent wind protection making it less susceptible to ‘strong wind cancellations’, but it can and does happen. For those who want a more defined season breakdown, here are my opinions:
April and May: season starts late April. Still quite cold with some snow on the peaks which makes hiking up to the mountain summit quite difficult, if not impossible. Days slowly get longer.
June, July, August: best months to go, longest days and super short nights, supposedly the best weather period = peak tourism.
September: starts to get colder and rainier. Daylight shortens really quickly. Season usually finishes end of September.
If you want to avoid peak season with mass tourism, then I’d suggest visiting late May/early June before the peak hits and as the weather gets better and days get longer. Keep in mind, these opinions are derived from my experiences and from what I’ve heard from others. Always do your own research :)
(Also if you worry about getting lots of rain, just think about about all those crazy beautiful waterfalls that will be gushing down the mountainsides! We saw so many beautiful rainbows across the fjord thanks to the rain, so there’s always a positive to a negative. In fact, a mix of rain and moody clouds suits Norway best!)
2. K A Y A K I N G T R I P S
Nordic Ventures is the kayaking company I guided for and I can highly recommend them if you’re looking to do a kayak tour along the Naeroyfjord. They offer a range of different tours from half days to 3+ days, but I’m just going to mention the ones I guided for. Keep in mind the descriptions below are the more generalised tours and that stopovers, paddle routes and camping spots are always subject to change due to weather and other unexpected circumstances. All tours include food and very good cooked food, if I may add. Since the prices are probably subject to change on a yearly basis, you’re best to find out more on their website here: Nordic Ventures
Half Day Tour (4hrs including breaks and prep.)
The start point is in Gudvangen and you kayak down to a spot just opposite Bakker and the Tuftofossen. The tour takes you pass some beautiful waterfalls on both sides. If you are limited in terms of time then this could be an option. However, keep in mind that you can drive through a tunnel to get to Bakker so this stretch can actually be seen by car so-to-say (of course not when you’re in the tunnel). Cooked lunched is included.
Full Day Tour (7hrs including breaks and prep.)
In terms of best value for money and time efficiency - I would recommend the Full Day Tour, purely because it doesn’t cost that much more than the Half Day and you get to see the most beautiful parts of the fjord. You start from Bakker and paddle basically the middle stretch of the fjord with a quick stopover at an impressive waterfall (Odnesfossen) and then keep paddling until Dyrdal. From there you can also see the end of the fjord where it then joins up with the Aurland fjord. This also marks the half way point where you then stop for a long (yummy cooked) lunch break before heading back. The landscape is seriously amazing, couldn’t recommend these day trips enough!
Two Day Tour (Two Paddle Days + One Night Freedom Camping)
This multi day tour usually starts from Gudvangen and ends in Undredal with a one night freedom camping adventure somewhere near Dyrdal. The great thing about the multi days is that it’s a one way route, so you never paddle the same stretch twice, which keeps it exciting and interesting. The first day covers the same route as the Half + Full Day tours combined. The second day, you complete the rest of the Naeroyfjord and venture out along the Aurland Fjord down to Undredal, which is a beautiful finish point. So many stunning waterfalls along the way, this route definitely offers the best photography opportunities! I think the coolest aspect of this tour, is that you can walk away from this experience and tell people you kayaked an entire fjord! Just leave out the fact that it was only 18km + another 7km along the Aurland fjord - so technically you kayaked along TWO fjords! How impressive does that sound? :D
I think the camping part appeals to most people and it certainly is a very unique and special experience to camp along such a remote fjord. Food wise, I can promise you will never run out of food, the guides won’t allow that! Plus, there’ll normally be a campfire going and it’s just such a nice vibe to warm up next to the fire and yarn the evening away with your fellow kayakers.
Three Day Tour (Two Paddle Days + One Day Hike + Two Nights Freedom Camping)
Basically the exact same paddle route as the Two Day Tour but with an extra day in the middle for a nice big hike up to Breiskrednosi summit! Between the Two and Three day tours, I would recommend the Three Day if you have the time and extra money to spend - it really is so worth it. The second day is entirely taken up by the hike and the ascent is roughly 1200m of elevation. Starting early in the morning and getting back early evening, it’ll take roughly 9hrs return, including breaks - depending on how fast your group is and the number of breaks you take, of course. The track itself is not that demanding up until the last 1.5hrs and this is the point where some people want to just drop out. After 3.5hrs of uphill already they see another massive mountain and think “hell no, she can’t be serious?”. Trust me, make it up that mountain and the reward at the end will (quite literally) take your breath away. The photos here honestly don’t even do justice to that skipped heartbeat feeling as you stand at the edge of a 1000m face cliff drop and over look the dramatic landscape of the fjord. The coolest part about this tour is that you get to experience the fjord from the water and from above, plus all the benefits that come with the two day tour.
3. GUIDED TOUR vs RENTAL KAYAKS
Rental Kayaks: If you are on a serious budget or happen to be a rather confident kayaker, then you can rent out kayaks from Nordic Ventures. The minimal rental period is a half day (4hrs) and there isn’t exactly a maximum period, I’ve had people who rented kayaks for as long as 10 days! Nordic Ventures provides Safety Briefings for all rentals and you can also hire out camping equipment from them. However, I think the preference really depends on your personality type - but as a general rule of thumb, I would highly recommend you go with a Guided Tour unless you have the following personality:
“In all honesty, I myself would never pay to do a guided tour (despite having been a guide, which I absolutely love) because I usually travel on a tight budget and these tours aren’t exactly cheap. I’m the sort of person who loves my ‘alone’ time in nature, it’s when I’m most self-reflective. I also love the challenge and satisfaction of discovering new places by myself, of being independent and seeing it through all on my own. It would somewhat taint my pride to have someone do the cooking for me and have everything organised and stress-free - I know, I’m super weird like that, but it’s the challenges that fuels my sense of adventure.” - so if that is you, go for rental.
My Recommendation: It’s funny how the one I would recommend is actually not the one I would do myself. But if you’re planning a trip to Norway, I would recommend you go with a guided tour, because it’s highly likely you will have time constraints so you want to make sure things run as smoothly as possible. You will probably have minimal time beforehand to research all the nitty gritty that comes with doing everything on your own, so of course a guided tour with transport, equipment and decent food included is a better choice. Not only that, but you also meet other people on your tours, especially on the longer tours, new friendships tend to be made rather quickly. Plus, having a guide is a great ease of mind in terms of safety.
If you’re interested in some of the reviews about the different tours, you can check them out here: Trip Advisor - Nordic Ventures
4. WHAT TO BRING & HOW TO PREPARE
The good thing is, you have to bring very little because Nordic Ventures literally has EVERYTHING! Like it still blows my mind to think about the huge amount of gear they have. On top of life jackets and spray skirts, they offer: Paddle Jackets, Wetsuits, Wet Shoes, Dry Bags for your clothes, Waterproof casing for your phones and cameras, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, tents, even hiking poles. There’s a few more hidden surprises but I won’t spoil that for you. They’ve literally thought of everything to try make things as easy and smooth as possible for you guys.
However, here are a few things that YOU should make sure to bring:
- Gloves if your hands get cold quickly
- Extra pair of warm clothes if going on multi day trips
- Your own waterproof phone case if you don’t want a waterproof ’box’
If you are on the 3 day tour, try get some general fitness and mountain hiking in because it’s a long day and the hike is very steep. Many people find it challenging and some stop at the bottom right before the most spectacular yet hardest last ascent up to the summit - it would be such a pity to hike all that way and miss out on the amazing view point at the end. So don’t underestimate the hike and get your fitness before your trip.
5. GETTING TO NAEROYFJORD
You have a few options here. As most people come from Bergen, Voss or Flam, I’ll break it down into each of these start points. Of course there are other ways too, I’ve just simplified and narrowed it down to the most scenic routes to Gudvangen.
- Train & Car: Take a scenic train to Voss (1h20) and then pick up a rental car and drive to Gudvangen (45mins).
- Car: Pick up rental car in Bergen and drive the whole way - about 2.5 hours to Gudvangen.
- Pick up: Nordic Ventures does airport pickups if you book a multi day tour through Much Better Adventures (MBA)
- Car: about 45min drive from Voss to Gudvangen but would recommend you allow 1.5 hours to enjoy the landscapes and make a few photo stops. Since you have the freedom, I would highly recommend a stop at Tvindefossen on the way - this waterfall is a beast, especially after periods of high rain!! It’s a really pretty drive all the way to Gudvangen, so enjoy it and take your time :)
- Bus: about 50mins from Voss Stasjon to Gudvangen E16 (Aurland) usually with bus NX450. Download SKYSS.NO app for more up-to-date bus information. They also offer student discounts so if you’re a student… I recommend you take any discounts you can in Norway!
- Pick up: Nordic Ventures does pick ups from Voss for those doing Day Tours, Two Day or Three Day Tours only.
- Car: about 20mins from Flam to Gudvangen and half of the driving time will be through a very dark sketchy looking tunnel. Norwegians love their tunnels, and they are, in fact, very efficient.
- Ferry: the more expensive option and there are a variety of ferry providers. I’d say do your own research as I never took a ferry here so can’t really say!
6. Where to find accommodation?
There is a huge range of accommodation around the area of Sogn og Fjordane. Many people stay in Voss and just make the short 45min trip to Gudvangen for kayaking. There are some good hostel options, hotels, guest houses and also Airbnb. Others stay in the popular Flam and Aurland (Sognefjorden) region, which is of course more expensive. However, there is also accommodation right in the heart of Gudvangen near the kayak base, such as such as Gudvangen Camping and Gudvangen Fjordtell & Apartments. Keep in mind that freedom camping is legal in Norway, just do your research and be respectful of private property and nature, take what you bring and leave no trace :)
In this section, I’ve included some affiliate links that direct you to the particular accommodation region to make your life a little easier. If you book something through my links, I get a small commission and it doesn’t change the price for you at all! How great is that? There’s no expiry date either so you can always come back at a later date and use my click through links to book. Super cool way to support me if you want to see more articles like these and I appreciate it so much :)
7. Map of points pinned:
You can also use this link to open up this map on a new tab and then save it to your list: Naeroyfjord and Surround
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Flam & Aurland
Gudvangen & Bakka
Dyrdal - Hike Start
If you’re planning a trip to Norway then definitely check out the Naeroyfjord and the fantastic kayak tours with Nordic Ventures. This is not a promo, I simply wanted to share this beautiful place and experience with you guys and hope you found this insightful. If you have any questions for me, just comment below or use my ‘Contact Me’ page. Alternatively, if you have some other awesome kayak recommendations in Norway… share it with us all in the comments below! :D