I headed towards Marifjøra in Sogn, a great place to start kayaking on the Lustrafjord which is a branch of the 204 kilometre long Sognefjord. It was late autumn, but the weather was nice and it felt like summer.
Marifjøra is in the middle of the Lustrafjord, and from there you can easily explore this beautiful area in all directions. My goal was just to have a nice day in my kayak on the fjord, but I also wanted to visit Urnes and Solvorn, two idyllic villages on each side of the fjord.
Kayaking on the Lustrafjord
I started at Marifjøra, not far from Tørvis Hotel which is a great Base Camp if you want to explore this part of Luster and the Lustrafjord. It is wonderful to just glide into the fjord in a kayak, it is only you and the silence and the nature. I paddled south along the western side of the fjord, and just before Solvorn I crossed the fjord towards Urnes. Urnes is a beautiful small village on the headlands by the fjord with hundreds of apple trees, a few wooden houses and a stave church from the Viking Age. The stave church, Urnes Stave Church, is our oldest stave church and part of our common UNESCO World Heritage. It was built around year 1140, and is really worth a visit if you are in the Luster area.
There is a ferry that goes daily between Solvorn and Urnes during summer, making it easy for tourists to visit Urnes and the stave church. From Urnes it is also great to do some biking and hiking in the area. The road along the Lustrafjord towards Skjolden at the innermost part of the Lustrafjord is almost without traffic, and the view to the fjord and the mountains and villages on the other side is great. You can combine bike and hike and see the Feigumfossen Waterfall with a vertical drop of 229 metres. You can hike to where the waterfall cascades into the the Feigeelva River. The hike is easy and takes around an hour, the path is marked. It is also possible to continue the hike to the top where the waterfall goes over the edge.
Urnes and Urnes Stave Church
I entered the shore just by the ferry quay at Urnes and walked up to the stave church. It is a short 15 minutes walk up hill to the church, and I had a guided tour inside the church and also wandered around it just to see the beautiful church and all the fantastic wood carvings on the north wall of the church. From the church, there is also a beautiful view over the fjord towards Solvorn on the other side. The autumn colours were beautiful and the apples were ready to be picked down from the trees, and the sound of the nature was fantastic.
Soon I was in my kayak again, now on my way across the fjord to Solvorn on the other side. The ferry passed me, and I felt small in my kayak when the waves from the ferry reached me from behind. But this is also the great part of kayaking, you are small and in the touch of the nature elements.
Solvorn at the western part of the Lustrafjord
Solvorn is another beautiful small village, on the western side of the Lustrafjord. Right beside the fjord in Solvorn lies Walaker Hotel. This is a charming family hotel and an attraction in itself. The hotel from 1640 has been owned by the same family since 1690 and is the oldest hotel in Norway, with more than 370 years of history. I had my mandatory stop there, and had a stroll around in the village and in the beautiful garden at Walaker Hotel. I also visited Gallery Walaker 300 in a building in connection to the hotel.
After stretching my legs and eating an ice cream at Solvorn, I again glided into the fjord and paddled north along the fjord towards Marifjøra and back to the starting point of this small but great adventure. I had a fantastic day on the Lustrafjord in my kayak and visited some beautiful places by the fjord.
While you are in the Luster area in Sogn
I can highly recommend you to visit Luster and the Lustrafjord area. This is one of the most beautiful spots in Norway, where the fjord meets the top of Norway with it´s numerous mountains and glaciers. These are some of the adventures you can experience in Luster:
A one hour hike to Svarthiller or 2 hours hike to Mt. Molden (1118 m.a.s) in Luster gives you a tremendous view towards the Lustrafjord and the surrounding mountains. Start at the parking place by the road between Hafslo and Mollandsmarki in Luster (500 m.a.s). The path is marked.
From Hafslo in Luster you can drive to Veitastrond. From there, drive the private toll-road to Tungestølen (4-5 kilometre), from where you have a nice and easy 2 hour walk to the Austerdalsbreen Glacier. There you can see 3 different glaciers (Loke, Odin and Tor) falling down from the plateau glacierJostedalsbreen, together creating the beautiful glacier down in the valley named Austerdalen. The glacier has only minor crevasses, and if it’s not covered with snow, it should be fairly safe to walk on it. You should always use rope and guide. Use the guide service from Jostedalen Glacier Guiding, order in advance.
If you want to go kayaking on the Lustrafjord, you can drive to Marifjøra, where you can rent kayaks and equipment from FjordSeal. Guiding and introductory lessons are also available.
From Gaupne close to Marifjøra, take to the left towards the Jostedalen Valley and Nigardsbreen Glacier. There you have Breheimsenteret Glacier Centre with its exhibition, multimedia glacier slideshow, information about the glacier and guiding and equipment-rental on the Nigardsbreen Glacier. You can also drive to the end of the Jostedalen Valley to Lake Styggevatnet, a “semi-artificial” dam, from where you have a view to the edge of the glacier calving into the lake. From here you have an easy hike to the glacier. If you are close to the glacier, pay attention to the danger that the glacier can be calving into the lake; this can cause big waves and it can be dangerous to stay close to the shoreline. Ice Troll arrange guided kayak trips at Lake Styggevatnet.
From Gaupne, you can also drive through Luster to Skjolden and Fortun.
Stay at Skjolden Hotel, a beautiful hotel with local food down by innermost part of the Lustrafjord. You can hike into the Mørkrisdalen Valley from Skjolden and the Fortunsdalen Valley from Fortun. The Fortunsdalen Valley is more spectacular the deeper into the valley you drive, but drive carefully. At the end of the road lies Nørstedalsseter Mountain Lodge, a good starting point for mountaineering.
From Skjolden, you can drive in the direction of Sognefjellet Mountain Road (National Tourist Route) and Lom. The first stop is Turtagrø Hotel, a new and modern mountain hotel, where you can get information and guiding to the Hurrungane Mountains, one of Norway´s wildest mountain areas. Turtagrø can offer guided hikes and climbing on mountains with views over most of the Jotunheimen National Park. A little further and you have the Sognefjellshytta Mountain Lodge on the top of Sognefjellet. It has fantastic views and is cheap to stay overnight. Guided walks across Fannaraak Glacier to Fannaraaken (2068 metres above sea level) can be done from here. Just a few kilometres from Sognefjellshytta you arrive at Krossbu Mountain Lodge. Guiding across Smørstabbreen Glacier can be done from here.
Tourist Information about Luster and the Lustrafjord: www.sognefjord.com
Information about Urnes Stave Church
Norway`s oldest hotel: Walaker Hotel at Solvorn
Bed & Breakfast at Solvorn: Eplet Hostel & Juice Factory
Hotel at Marifjøra: Tørvis Hotel
Guided Kayak Trip on the Lustrafjord: Fjordseal at Marifjøra
Urnes Stave Church
Ferry across the Lustrafjord: www.lustrabaatane.no
Official page for Norway: www.visitnorway.com
Official page for Fjord Norway: www.fjordnorway.com
Plan and book fjord travel, accommodation and activities: www.fjordtours.com
Fjord Pass Discounts: www.fjord-pass.com