In 1999, I was kayaking the Lustrafjord for the first time. In June 2019, twenty years later, I did it again. It almost went wrong, but I was lucky and “Saved by the Bell”.
The Lustrafjord is the innermost branch of the 204 kilometer long Sognefjord which is the King of the Fjords. The Lustrafjord and the Luster area is one of the most beautiful spots in Norway, where the fjord meets the top of Norway with it´s numerous mountains and glaciers.
Driving from Oslo to the Fjords
I drove from Oslo in a car stuffed with kayak and equipment, and my goal for the day was Skjolden at the innermost part of the Lustrafjord. This was the starting point of this summers kayak adventure. The last part of my drive that day was along the fjord I should paddle the next days, and I could feel the joy when driving in this beautiful scenery.
Video from my Kayak Adventure on the Lustrafjord
Kayaking out the fjord from Skjolden
It was almost midday before I glided into the Lustrafjord in my kayak. It was partly cloudy, and the fjord was calm. I headed over to the western side of the fjord, and continued paddling on this side for a long distance. It was a beautiful day, but the weather got even better and the fjord calmer as I paddled along. It took some time, I had to immortalize the beautiful scenery in both pictures and film.
Just before the small village Luster the fjord became wider, and I decided to cross the fjord here. I continued along the eastern side of the fjord, this is the part of the fjord where small wooden houses and farms are beautifully situated by the fjord. I would love to live in a small cozy house, just like this.
Saving a drowning Humble Bee
In the middle of the fjord, it was around one kilometer wide at this point, I passed a humble bee that was floating on the water. After a few seconds I thought it probably needed a helping hand, and decided to turn around to try to help it out of the water. I managed to pick it up with my paddle-oar, and placed it on the front of my kayak. It stayed on my kayak for almost ten minutes. Then it started to move the wings slowly before it vibrated the wings as it was drying itself. Suddently it “took off” and flew away. We were much closer to the shore now, I hope it made it to safe ground.
Towards Feigumfossen Waterfall and Kroken
I continued on the east side of the fjord and arrived Feigum and 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, it takes an hour and the path is well marked. I decided to just look at the waterfall from the kayak this day, it was a beautiful sight as I glided quietly past it.
I passed another beautiful village before I found a place to sleep for the night. It was by a boat house on the headland just before Kroken. I slept in open air, with a great view to the fjord and towards Mt. Molden on the other side of the Lustrafjord.
Next Day – Kayaking to Urnes and Urnes Stave Church
I continued the next day and rounded the headland towards Kroken. It was a beautiful day, no wind, and the fjord was calm. A great day for kayaking. I passed Kroken and continued towards Urnes. It took some time, and after a few hours on the fjord I reached Urnes. The kayak was left by some boat houses before I walked along the road uphill towards the UNESCO-Protected Urnes Stave Church.
Urnes Stave Church is the oldest of the remaining Stave Churches in Norway, and is one of four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Western Norway. The Stave Church was built around year 1130. During summer you can join a guided “tour” outside and inside the church. There is also a small café at Urnes Gard close by where you can buy local made refreshments. It was a warm day, and I visited the café and drank some ice cold local made Raspberry Lemonade. It was the best lemonade I have ever tasted!
The outer part of the Lustrafjord
It was late afternoon, and back in my kayak I decided to cross the fjord to Solvorn and to end my journey there. Solvorn is a beautiful village down by the Lustrafjord on the opposite side of Urnes. Here you have the oldest historical hotel in Norway, the beautiful Walaker Hotel.
But in the middle of the fjord I changed my mind and decided to continue out the Lustrafjord and into the Sognefjord to my original planned goal; Kaupanger. The outer part of the Lustrafjord is wider and more exposed for wind and weather. It was a long but nice paddle where I passed some waterfalls and even had the company of an eagle for a while.
Entering the Sognefjord – Wind, Waves and Rescue
It was close to midnight when I finally entered the Sognefjord. This is where the three branches Lustrafjord, Årdalsfjord and Lærdalsfjord meet the main fjord, the Sognefjord. The 204 kilometer long Sognefjord is at its widest here, and the winds and currents change rapidly. Even though the weather forecast said no wind, I could feel the wind and waves were increasing.
When I passed Mannheller Ferry Pier, the wind increased resulting in more frequent and larger waves. I decided to “strap” all my camera equipment in watertight bags and to continue kayaking the last part to Kaupanger. It looked better farther ahead.
But the wind and waves increased, the cliffs were steep and it was impossible to enter land. Time had passed midnight, the water was cold, the waves were large and I started to feel anxious. And the distance towards Kaupanger was much longer than I thought.
Then suddently after a kilometer, I discovered a small concrete wall that was stuck into the fjord. I paddled towards it, grabbed the upper end of the wall and dragged myself and my kayak up to safe land. I stayed in that place for the rest of the night. Saved by the Bell!
Next Day – Kayaking the last part to Kaupanger
The next morning I woke up early, it was only five o´clock, and the Sognefjord was flat with no waves. What a difference from last night. I have been kayaking for more than twenty years, this was the best feeling I have ever had in a kayak. When I glided out into the mighty Sognefjord that morning, the fjord was like a mirror and the beautiful sunrise…it was indescribable. It was a beautiful moment, and after some time just “taking it in”, I paddled towards Kaupanger which was my end destination. What a beautiful day it was…
Travel back to Skjolden to get my car
The name Kaupanger origins from the two norse words “Kaup” (to buy) and “angr” (bay). Kaupanger is also one of two ports from where the Sognefjord Fjord Cruise departs and arrives. This is a two hour fjord cruise (you can bring your car) on the Sognefjord, Aurlandsfjord and the UNESCO Protected Nærøyfjord. This is the most beautiful “Ferrytale” on earth.
I left my kayak and equipment beside the Sogn Fjord Museum by the Ferry Pier at Kaupanger and walked up to Kaupanger Stave Church. This Stave Church has been in continous use since it was built around year 1140 by the Vikings. It is one of the largest Stave Churches in Norway and is situated on the hillside above Kaupanger Bay which originally is an old Viking trading town.
I then took the bus from Kaupanger to Sogndal and spent some time there before I got on the bus to Skjolden to pick up my car. It was a two and a half hour bus drive, 78 bus stops in total. So many funny names on those bus stops.
I drove back to Sogndal, picked up my equiment at Kaupanger and had a delicious dinner and an ice cold beer in Sogndal. The night was spent at Sogndal Hotel before I drove home the next day. What an adventure I have just had in two of the most beautiful fjords in Norway.
On this kayak trip I was paddling alone and without drysuit. That was a stupid thing to do, and it could have ended fatally if I did not spot the concrete wall in the middle of “nowhere”.
You should never paddle alone and always use drysuit when paddling the Norwegian fjords. You can join guided kayak-trips on the Lustrafjord and Sognefjord. I recommend you to use guide. The Sognefjord and it´s branches can be exposed for strong winds and currents, the water is cold and the weather can change rapidly.
- This adventure can be done with guides and equipment from Hvitserk Expeditions which have a six day long guided kayak-adventure on the Lustrafjord, Sognefjord, Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord.
- If you want to go kayaking on the inner part of the Lustrafjord, you can drive to Marifjøra in the middle of the Lustrafjord. From there you can easily explore this beautiful fjord in all directions. At marifjøra you can rent kayaks and equipment from FjordSeal. Guiding and introductory lessons are also available.
If you are kayaking without guide, I recommend you to avoid the outer part of the Lustrafjord and end your trip at Solvorn instead.
LUSTRAFJORD – Useful Links
Tourist Information about Luster and the Lustrafjord: Sognefjord.com
Skjolden – Where fjord meets the mountains: Skjolden.com
The UNESCO Protected Urnes Stave Church
Ferry across the Lustrafjord: Lustrabaatane
Glacier Guiding on Nigardsbreen Glacier: Jostedalen Breførarlag
Breheimsenteret Glacier Center in Jostedal: Breheimsenteret
Mountain Hotel in the Hurrungane Mountains: Turtagrø Hotel
Sognefjellet National Tourist Route: Norwegian Scenic Routes
Guided Kayak Trip on the Lustrafjord: Fjordseal at Marifjøra
Hvitserk Expeditions: Guided kayak-adventure on the Lustrafjord
Guided Motor Boat Tours at Lake Styggevatnet: Ice Troll
Accommodation in Luster
Hotel at Skjolden: Skjolden Hotel
Guesthouse in Luster: Nes Gard
Norway`s oldest hotel: Walaker Hotel at Solvorn
Bed & Breakfast at Solvorn: Eplet Hostel & Juice Factory
Hotel at Marifjøra: Tørvis Hotel
Fjord Cabins in Luster: Luster Fjordhytter
Exclusive stay at Hafslo: BesteBakken
Fjord Tours: Norway in a Nutshell
Fjord Tours: Plan and book fjord travel, accommodation and activities
Go Fjords: Big and Small Fjord Experiences
Fjord Pass: Great Discounts on Activities and Attractions in the Fjords
Visit Norway: Official page for Norway
Fjord Norway: Official page for Fjord Norway