This is the video companions of our overnight backpacking trip on the Mueller Hut Route in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park.
The steep but short hike up to Mueller Hut in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is typically hiked as an in & out day hike with plenty of time to make the long drive back to town for a good meal. Being someone that is more about the views than just camping, I usually prefer just a day hike. However, it pays to take it easy and smell the roses sometimes. Rather breaking the hike up, camping on the top of the world, and under the stars was a worthy experience. From our tent, we could hear the surrounding glaciers crack and had a perfect view of the tallest mountain in New Zealand, Aoraki/Mount Cook.
This is the seventh entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series covering our tramp of to Mueller Hut in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.
When a group of friends were looking for some camping time near D.C., I remembered some prime spots along Little Stoney Creek during our hike of the Big Schloss, Mill Mountain, and Little Stoney Creek loop. While the discussion begin as car camping, they didn’t mind the mile walk along Stoney Creek to reach the best campsite
along the creek.
Don’t worry, our food choices were still inline with car camping.
We ended up base camping for two night giving us a free day to do a hike in the area, which ended up being Little Schloss. What was a surprise with the amount of wildflowers along the trail from a recent burn.
Our first hike of our trip into the Canadian Rockies was The Rockwall in Kootenay National Park. If granite rock faces are your thing, you will have all you can handle on this hike and more.
This is the second entry of our Canadian Rockies trip series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.
This is the companion preview videos to our trip report detailing our 3 day and 2 nights hike on The Rockwall in Kootenay National Park. The highlight of the hike were the granite walls of the Vermilion Range decorated with waterfalls and hanging glaciers.
You can find the detailed report of our hike linked in the index below.
In this second installment of our road trip, we started with a hike on Glaciar Exploradores in Puerto Río Tranquilo before starting out drive north ending at Futaleufú. These second 4 days were much smoother than our first as we did 3 hikes and had a run in with a local hawk. This is a companion video to my 2019 Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series, which is listed below in the index.
This is a companion video to my 2019 Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series, which is listed below in the index.
My current struggle in life is the constant feel of needing to optimize my time. It’s the feeling that I need to be productive whenever possible, but I don’t think I am actually any more than before in the overall scheme of things. Maybe I started to feel this way because of the combination of how easy I can waste a day and just the never ending to do lists. Whatever the reason, it makes it very difficult to relax as anything nonproductive comes with a feel of regret in the end. This specific struggle carries over into the realm of traveling as well when it comes to unplanned and free form travel. It is hard not to feel the need to do something at every minute. But at the same time, unplanned free form travel is the cure as you don’t have anywhere to be but to relax and immerse yourself in the beauty out there. There is no place better for me to relearn that than the remote regions in Chile on the Carretera Austral.
In the spirit of free form travel, the hikes and activities we throughout the rest of our trip wasn’t really in any organizable order. This is due to a few travel restrictions and situational parameters that are explained in the post. So this part of the trip report will cover our decisions as we went, the specific route that we took, and our driving experiences on the Carretera Austral. Subsequent sections will delve into the different hikes and major activities that I will mention in this overview of our trip.
We pick up this trip report the day after our Huemul Circuit hike (see part 2 of this series). This is part 3 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below. Read More
On my first solo extended out of the country trip, I found myself at a pub in Bruge drinking with the a bunch of new friends I didn’t know the day before. A quote that stuck with me from that night was that you travel not to experience everything, but to find all the great things about a place to return to. In the travel atmosphere that is suggestive of the bucket list and country counting attitude, I am all for the counter viewpoint of also returning to a place that once put you in a state of awe. The Huemul Circuit is currently my favorite hike in the world, so a return trip to Patagonia meant I’d head back there.
As I start to write this, I am not sure how this report will go. This is the first time I’m writing up the exact same hike on this page and it didn’t deviate much from my first trip. Secondly, my SD card crapped out during this trip leading me to lose a good portion of my data unbeknown to be until I started going through the pictures post trip. To that end, I’m approaching this write up of the Huemul Circuit as a complement to the my first report with the insight that the trail has gotten much more popular.
This is part 2 of my Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below. Read More
Over the past few year, we’ve had our delays and plans go awry. But it always seemed we were able to figure out new plans and were able to achieve what we wanted to do. So we were due to run out of luck at some point and the norse gods were happy to be the ones to bring all my plans crashing down and then some.
- the decision and planning
- trip report: getting in and setting up
- trip report: Lofoten Islands – Moskenesøya
- trip report: Bødo
- trip report: getting out via TAP business class & Lisbon
- final impressions and budget
Our decision to visit Norway came about with a one-way Oslo to Boston fare sale on TAP business class for $417 (see frequent miler’s breakdown of the deal here). This is more than we would typically paid for a one-way across the Atlantic, but it was an incredible deal for business class. It is still available for a couple hundred more at the time I’m publishing this a half year later.
We didn’t mind the destination of Norway either since there are plenty of hiking available to us there. However our decision of where to visit for our week in Norway wasn’t made until the very last minute, which added to the already costly nature of Norway. We narrowed our decision to 2 specific places, the Lofoten Islands or the fjords in southern Norway around Bergen. The type of the travel we planned for these 2 locations were specifically different. The fjords would consist of renting a car road tripping around for a combination of day hikes or short treks.
For the Lofoten Islands, I was able to find a few outlined multiday trekking options and that’s what we decided to go with (discussion of further research below). This aspect appealed much more to be as I really enjoyed the trips where we can just get in and hike such as my favorite past trips in the Chilean and Argentina Patagonia. It is possible to drive around and day hike as well, and I’ll discuss that at in my impressions of the Lofoten Islands.
From a financial standpoint, the comparative costs for our 2 options, including extra flights up to the Lofoten Islands or car rental for the Fjordlands, were pretty similar at estimated around USD$800 since I left this decision to the last minute. Norway is a very expensive country relatively speaking (Big Mac Index) and the cheapest way to counter that was to camp and be out on the trails, which made our decision for the Lofoten Islands final.
A major reason for our decision to head to the Lofoten Islands was simply because I found a 5 day trek that fit our schedules pretty well from Alexandre de Brébisson covering the southern island of Moskenesøya. Moskenesøya island, as part of the Lofoten Islands, is said to be the best aesthetically with the highest peaks, mountain lakes, and beach camping. That sounded good to me.
For additional trail information, Hiking Lofoten provided a few more difficult off trail alternatives through the trek of Moskenesøya that bags a few peaks in the area and included gps trackings for their routes. They also have a longer trek that spans the whole of Lofoten Islands, something we’d have to save for the future.
If you are planning to do this trail, a key connection aspect is catching a ferry between Vindstad and Kirkefjord. The schedule of the boat can be inconsistent and they might not always stop in the same order listed on their webpage. It is a good idea to call them ahead of time to confirm your pickup and dropoff. As far as cell phone reception, there was signal at Vindstad with our phone service.
general and trail information
For the best online guides and trail listing for the Lofoten Islands, there are 2 awesome websites listed below and I will cite throughout my report.
- 68 North: travel information and list of day hikes including camping options.
- Hiking Lofoten: travel information, list of day hikes, and 2 trekking options
northern lights and midnight sun
The lofoten islands are above the arctic circle it’s situations for the northern lights and the midnight sun at different times of the year. 68 North has an excellent write ups about both the midnight sun (that takes places between the end of May to middle of July) and the northern lights (main season is September to March).
Norway has a very generous freedom to roam laws (allemannsrett). Generally, free camping is allowed unless you are within 150 meters of any buildings or in specific restricted areas (innmark). However, campers are expected to show respect to the landowners and practice leave no trace (as everyone should do always). For more details see here and here (which also specify locations you can get camping supplies around the Lofoten Islands).
maps and gps
For topographical maps, I downloaded the free Openstreemap for Norway map from alternativaslibres.org for my Garmin. However there are several versions for Norway differentiating the winter ski and summer hiking trails found at frikart.no. In browser, you can find the topo maps from norgeskart, with marked trails listed, and ofcourse user trackings from wikiloc.
money and other logistics
Norway is expensive, however everything is very modern and there are plenty of grocery stores to stock up food in Bødo. Utilizing the markets was the inexpensive way to go, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t good food. When not on the trail, we ate both fresh and smoked fish with fresh baked bread, veggies, and tubed cheese. The fish was so fresh, no cooking was needed. For planning purposes, grocery stores in Bødo open early in the morning while the sporting good store are open around 9:30-10am, and the pharmacies open around 8:30am. Across the Lofoten Islands, you can also resupply most villages (list compiled by Hiking Lofoten).
Credit cards are accepted everywhere in Norway we were at, even on the Vinstad ferry while in the middle of the lake. Meg was very happy about this since it meant she had a good amount of left over cash to go shopping with, even more so regarding the quality of the shoes she bought there and it was similar in cost compared to the US.
Lastly for communication purposes, google fi worked without a problem in Norway and even had intermittent reception as we were in the backcountry trekking. There was reception even at Vindstad, where we could call the ferry to confirm our extraction.
With our one-way business class flight from Oslo (OSL) to Boston (BOS) booked, we’d have to get ourselves to Norway and have reposition flights on both ends. Fortunately, getting across the pond is very cheap with so many budget airlines. Norwegian airlines made this specifically easy as they offered many cheap flights from the US to Norway. The lowest fare we found was a direct flight from Providence, Rhode Island (PVD) to Bergen, Norway (BGO) for USD$140.8 each ticket (USD$281.6 total). Since this was before our decision of where to go in Norway, BGO worked as it was the cheapest and a good starting point if we decided on the fjords.
Repositioning to PVD from the DC area (Baltimore, BWI) and back from BOS was easy for use through Southwest points and our companion pass (guide from FrequentMiler). Direct flights to PVD for the 2 of us was 2330 SW points and USD$11.2 in fees and direct flights, again for the both of us, back from BOS was 3603 SW points and USD$11.2.
For our flights to get to Bødo (BOO), a gateway to the Lofoten Islands and the best place for our intended trek, our booking was pretty much last minute and the prices reflected such at USD$427.50 each ticket. The flight would connect us from BEG to BOO and back to OSL to connect with our return flight. To dampen the out of pocket cost, I used 57k US Bank Altitude points earned through the signup bonus to cover the entire USD$855 cost. There are a few options to fly directly to different sections in the Lofoten Islands in Harstad/Narvik (EVE), Svolvær (SVJ), or Leknes (LKN) airports.
Our total flight itinerary covered 5 different bookings and we would earn 5712 United miles each from our TAP business class booking. There were other earning option if we attributed TAP flights to other frequent flyer programs, but the United miles are much easier for us to utilize since we already have balances with them.
Once we reached Bødo, we would need to travel to Moskenes to begin our trek via a large car ferry that leaves at least once per day (One-way 221 kr per person, ~USD$28 in 2017). The schedule for the ferry can be found here, be sure to note the date that the schedule switches between winter and summer. Tickets can be purchased at the time of boarding.
For transportation around the Lofoten Islands, there is a public bus that travels along E10. However, it isn’t very frequent or reliable (see here for schedules). 68 North provides a good guide for getting around the islands.
The equipment we brought was our typical loadout. The weather in the Lofoten Islands can be pretty punishing (as we witnessed first hand) so a good tent and good layering is recommended. The locals say that it will most likely rain everyday, but in patches. They also told us just to simply look outside to determine what to do.
For our traveling gear, we were able to store a backpack in Bødo at our hotel.
Our flights to Bødo would be spread across 2 days accounting for the time zone change. We left the house around 5:30am for the Baltimore Airport (BWI) on Saturday and walked into our hotel in Bødo around 11:30pm on Sunday. Across the 4 flights, the main portion of our Saturday and Sunday was spent on the ground, allowing utilize the time to get some work done. The airports at Bergen and Providence were both small airports and Oslo did not have a lounge we could access with our Priority Pass, so we packed a few sandwiches to eat along the way as a means to minimize paying for overpriced airport food.
Our flight from BWI to Providence (PVD) was uneventful was asleep the entire time. PVD wasn’t the smallest of airports, but there wasn’t much in term of real food landside. We walked the 20 minutes to a local diner for breakfast. Afterwards, we spend the rest of the afternoon working at the Starbucks back at the airport until check-in for our flight. Since this was an international flight, we had to manually check-in to have our passports validated.
Our experience on Norwegian’s budget cross Atlantic experience wasn’t bad at all. We did not pay to pick seats so we were assign ones at the back of the plane. Luckily as I expected based on the seatmap, the flight was nowhere near full and both Meg and I were able to stretch across our entire row. The seat themselves were not the most comfortable, but there was a good amount of legroom for a budget flight. Our plan was to go to sleep right away since the red-eye flight would only be around 6 hours. Having had our dinner before boarding and sleeping through the entire flight, we didn’t need to purchase any additional services. One thing to remember is to bring your jacket or your own blanket on these flights there aren’t any provided and it gets pretty cold. I’d take these flights again in the future with these prices.
Immigration and customs were very quick at Bergen (BGO) as we arrived early Sunday morning. We didn’t plan to drink while during our time in Norway since it is very expensive to drink there. If you do plan on buy alcohol, duty free is your cheapest option before entering the country.
While we could have taken the trip into the City, we opted to stay at the airport rather than lugging our backpacks around the town since was no storage at the airport. Airside, there were several areas that was in the process of renovation, but there were also plenty tables, seats, and power outlets where I could do some work and some last minute research on our trek. Interestingly, we had great internet access as all the Norwegian airports were equipped with the same educational network “eduroam” that our university utilizes. Lastly, there were plenty of places for napping as well helping us to adjust to the time difference.
Our last flights from BGO to Oslo (OSL) and connecting onto Bødo (BOO) were uneventful.
The walk from BOO to our hotel in downtown Bødo took about half an hour, but it was nice to stretch our legs before turning in for the night. We used a few Hotel.com gift cards that we bought for 80% value and earned back an additional 10% at the Scandic Bødo Hotel. The hotel ran for $146.53 and was pretty basic with a good bed and a very nice full breakfast. We were fine with the higher spend after the traveling and wanted to have a good rest before heading out on the trail. The Scandic Bødo is part of the Scandic hotel group, but since it’s not a group we would have much opportunity for frequent stays, going though Hotels.com provided better value for us. For travel hacking purposes, Choice hotels provides excellent redemption values for Norway and Europe in general.
The Scandic Bødo is central in downtown Bødo and about a 10 minute walk to the ferry station and train station. The next morning, we went around stopping at grocery stores for supplies, sporting good store for butane/propane gas, and the pharmacy for sea sickness medicine. The sporting good store was the latest to open around 9:30am.
Unfortunately for us, the ferry schedule switch over to the winter schedule on the day we arrived so instead of having a morning ferry option, we had to wait for for the afternoon ferry. Even the locals and the hotel managers were caught off guard of the change, so make sure you check for yourselves.
It wasn’t too bad since we would only lose half a day. After the morning around Bødo, which I’ll get into more details later, we headed for our ferry.
We paid for the ferry while in line for it to pull up. The seating on the ferry was first come first serve and we headed up to the top deck where there was a pretty cool forward cabin view.
I don’t get sea sick very often, but the slow rock of the the ferry did start to get to me half way through the decently long ride and I had to take a nap.
While on the ferry, we met Julien, who guides trips from France to the Lofoten Islands. The company he works for sets up tour groups with different lodging up the Lofoten Island chain and he would guide the group on day hikes and does the cooking for everyone in his group. We would see him through the few days we spent on trail and if you are interested in join his trips, contact me and I can get you his contact information.
As we neared the end of our of ferry ride, the islands starts to appear out of the rainy clouds.
It was quite the mystical sight as we pulled up and I had a feeling like we were pulling up to Jurassic park, though a bit colder.
We filled off the boat to the dock area at Moskenes port.
A short ways from the dock, there is a campgrounds called Moskenes Camping that provides showers, but reviews aren’t great there. Several people we’ve talked to have said they just walked further along the road and found a remote place to wild camp. Other trip reports suggest the best place to spend the night is actually at the waiting room for the harbor to the right after exiting the boat behind the bus stop.
Since we had lost half a day due to the ferry schedule change, we decided to start at the southern end of the trek closer to Moskenes rather than waiting for a bus to start at the northern end at Fredvang. Our trailhead would be a mile or so south of Moskenes at he town of Sørvågen. Our new friend Julien offered to drop us off in Sørvågen with their rented shuttle since they were heading that way as well, which we accepted gratefully.
- name: Sørvågen to Vindstad
- type: point to point
- distance: 11.8 miles
- elevation change: 5077 ft ascend & 5094 ft descend
- time: 2 days (14 hours)
- location: Lofoten Islands – Moskenesøya
- There were several alternative side hikes/scrambles up to different peaks. We didn’t attempt any of them due to the weather. Our original plan also included the section from Kjerkfjorden to either Fredvang or Ramberg to cover the majority of the Moskenesøya Island.
After we were dropped off in Sørvågen, we still had some daylight so we decided to get as far along the trail as we could before setting up camp. There were a couple of alternatives we could do through the first section of the trail including the rarely summited Støvla, the popular Munken, and the tallest in Hermannsdalstinden, so we wanted to knock off a couple miles to plan for our possible climbs.
Turning from the main M10 road, we passed a parking lot and there are a few signs for Munkenbu we followed initially.
We were under a light drizzle as we passed a structure and the trail narrows.
It also starts to rise moderately over the first lake of Sørvågvatnet wit ha Star of David over looking the lake. Around this area, there are a few trails that turn to the right and looping around the lake. From the openstreetmaps and the overhead satellite photos, there seem to be a shelter toward this area. It wouldn’t haven been a bad idea for us to head there, but we didn’t know of it then.
A little further along the trail we come to Lofoten Falls. There are a few more trails branching to the right that you can reach the shelter after the falls.
We continued up the muddy slope to the next lake, Stuvdalsvatnet. The trail rounded the shores of the lake without any good place to camp, so we continued on. The only plausible areas were close to a couple houses.
After the houses, the trail splits with the right trail heading toward Munkebu while the left trail seem to head toward the route to summit Støvla. We decided to head to the left as the gps showed a possible flat where we may be able to set up camp. Shortly after the split, we came to a cascade.
We crossed the cascading stream over a footbridge and started looking for any dry and flat area to set up camp.
Unfortuately, most of the grassy areas around were marshy and water soak. We ended up finding a mix area of flat rock and moss to set up our tent.
It was dark by the time we got our tent up, but the view we had next morning was pretty stunning.
Our first day was only about 1 hour covering 1.5 miles with 775 ft ascent and 217 ft descent as it was late in the day by the time we arrive on the Lofoten Islands.
Even though our camping spot was very beautiful, we were in a position where the wind swirled around us the entire night and it wasn’t a big area to set up our tent. Had we known, it would probably have been better to set up at the shelter area right after Lofoten Falls.
The wind was still whipping when we woke the next morning. After packing up, we thought we’d take a look at what the route would be like for peaking Støvla. We continued to follow the trail up including a couple sections with chains.
The clouds were moving fast over head as we continued up.
The follows the cascading stream upwards until
we reached reached another marshy flat with the wind on full blast. The trail ended at the flat. Looking ahead to bushwacking climb and the questionable weather,
we decided to continue back to the Munken trail.
We hiked off trail toward the outlet of the lake Fjerddalsvatnet.
We cross the rushing stream that was about knee deep, but our shoes provided good grip as we waded across.
A slip down the stream wouldn’t have been fun. The more challenging part was climbing up the rockface on the other side. We threw our bags up and climbed up.
Looking back toward Støvla, we were happy we didn’t attempt it with the exposure and heavy winds.
We hooked up with the Munkebu trail just as Julien’s tour group was at the junction.
The well marked trail follows a scramble alongside another cascade before curving around a couple muddy flats.
At the final flat, there is a nice outcrop where the lakes of Tennesvatnet and Krokvatnet are seen sitting under the tallest peak of Hermannsdalstinden.
The views continue as the trail starts downwards.
Shortly after, there was a small hill of Djupfjordheia that provides a pretty cool view of the fjord and E10 bridge.
Julien’s tour group can be seen heading toward the red cabin Mukebu.
The wind did not relant during lunch, so we decided not to try for any of the peaks. Our plan at the time was possibly camping around Krokvatnet lake or the hill directly above that. After the stream a few couple times, the trail downward was muddy, a precursor to the trail that waited for us after the hut and lunch.
Once we slip and slided our way down to the bottom of Tennesvatnet Lake before another scramble up a boulder section.
At the top of the climb, the sun broke through briefly.
We headed down to the lake to refill out water supply. Fishing is a big attraction here in the Lofoten Island lakes, so bring a rod if that’s your thing.
We headed up to the top of the hill for a possible camping spot, but the wind was relentless and the sun was gone. Since we still had plenty of day light, we made the call just to keep on trucking. The view from this hill was among my favorites on this section and the peak in the distance reminds me of a half dome clone.
The next section was one of the steepest downhill we’ve encounters on this trek. With the wind howling, we made our way down the muddy trail with wires and roads aiding our descent at times.
At the outlet of Tennesvatnet Lake, there is a power station and a cement platform where we thought of stopping, but at this point we thought the idea of camping on the beach would be better. We saw the afternoon ferry from Reine drop someone off at the power station below us.
From the powerstation, the trail around the inlet to Vindstad was some of the worst trails we encountered the entire day. There were no markers the entire way with was the most difficult in the initial section where we were scrambling up and down on mossy boulders. The best markers we had were crushed blueberries on the ground that those before us left. The trail eventually was more pronounced as a muddy trail. It was much slower going then the distance and elevation profile suggested. If you have the option, take the ferry and skip this section all together.
Another unfortunate thing for us is that the berries were not ripe yet due to a late berry season. In the area, there are many wild berry varieties including blueberries, raspberries, and the highly valued “Golden” berries (Cloudberries).
We were happy to enter Vindstad, but there really isn’t any places near the village to camp.
The weather looked like it was going to be ok as we made our way through the village of Vindstad toward Buneset beach.
However the rain came down on us as we rounded the top of the hill toward Buneset Beach.
There was an out house at the beach and there are a couple piles of garbage that campers have brought in, but it was a quiet nice view. We were eager to setup our tent and turning in for the night. We tried to find a place behind some rocks to help shield the swirling wind got even stronger.
It was so strong, that our tent pole snapped as we were holding on trying to prevent the tent from blowing away (our tent has since been repaired by the awesome staff at Sierra Design for free, thanks Nate for handling my inquire and Kathy for doing the repair). This day was the worst wind we ever experienced in our trekking careers, even more than Patagonia.
So being dejected, we packed up and headed back toward the Vindstad. We had passed a community center/cafe that had a hallway open and a couple of bathrooms in Vindstad and squatting there for the night was our plan with our shelter broken. After cooking dinner we fell asleep to the pouring rain and wind gusts continuing overnight.
For the day we hiked a total of 10.2 miles with 4302 ft ascent and 4878 ft descent over 12.5 hours.
It was a challenging day with the weather, but still provided great views along the way. The weather prevent us from attempting to bag and of the peaks, it will be something we’ll have to come back to next time. The big bummer was that our trekking trip was over with our tent snapping, it’s fortunate we found a place to squat at and right where we can take the boat to the town of Reine the next day.
The rain and wind continued to pound the area as we woke up the next morning. As we were cooking breakfast, another camper, Daniel, came in from the rain. He had spend the previous night at Buneset beach braving the weather, holding his tent up, repairing the tears from the wind, and not sleeping at all. It sounded like we got the better end of the deal.
My phone had both reception and internet at Vindstad so I was able to make a Airbnb reservation for the night in Reine and call the ferry company for a pickup.
We found that the hut by the pier was open and offered another option to crash at should others be stranded.
Luckily for us, rain stopped briefly as we headed out toward the pier.
We were able to pay on the boat with a credit card and we had plenty of seats.
The boat had stopped at Vindstad first and headed over to Kjerkfjorden before returning to Reine. This would have been convenient for us had we still had a working tent, but it was opposite of their schedule. It would be advised to contact them with your plans the day of your trip.
There were several of us getting out of the weather in Reine.
While walking to town, our airbnb host Toming saw us and waved us in. The airbnb was 1 of 2 rooms on the top floor of his house. It was a comfortable house and a good place to spend the rest of the day sheltered from the storm that continued throughout the day and night. We supplemented some of the food we already had with some fresh fish and cheese from the market and spend the rainy day reading and napping.
The word was that the ferry between Bødo and Moskenes was canceled a couple times while we were on our trek due to the weather so we made the decision to head back to Bødo the next morning since the weather outlook was poor. Toming offered to take us to the ferry since his family was heading for Bødo as well, we were grateful for him saving us the walk along the road.
If the weather would have been better, we could have stayed in town and hiked Reinebrigen.
- views: 4. Even though the weather prevented us from summitting any of the peaks, the aesthetics of the many lakes and waterfalls among the granite peaks made for the trip. Adding on the remote beaches, the Moskenesøya Island of the Lofoten Islands are quite stunning. I am giving it a bit leeway here as well since other’s experiences may be much better in terms of the weather. Not only that, there is also the prospect of the midnight sun or auroras to possibly enhance the experience here. These are motivations for me to come back.
- difficulty: 3 (4 – summits). The weather obviously played a big factor for our trek. We didn’t attempt the summits because of how harsh the winds were blowing. I would only imagine the wind being worth further up making the steeper climbs worse. There is also a good amount elevation change among this route, making it a decently high endurance route.
- technical: 3 (4 – summits). In terms of navigation, the popular areas are well marked, but not so much the areas in between. There are no markers and you are following trails the best you can without much cairns in those less travelled areas. The trail has some decent scrambling and some very steep and muddy sections. The summits I expect are more technical in the steepness and scrambling needed, but we didn’t attempt them this time around.
A big limitation to our trip was that was we had only a week in Norway and we needed much more time to truly flush out and enjoy the Lofoten Islands. For our planned trip, we only had planned 5 days to hike. It was cut short first by the ferry schedule changing leaving us with about 4 days to trek the route that we wanted. Then the terrible weather and our tent breaking, left us with 2 nights of camping and a day of hiking. But if we were there exactly a week later, we would have gotten very lucky with clear days and a solar flare leading to the northern lights showing up early in the aurora season. So next time.
With spending money for housing rather than wild camping and a rental car, it’s possible to still have a great experience driving around and doing the day hikes. The major viewpoints and peaks mostly can be done as day hikes and the trails connecting them are pretty poor since they aren’t used much. Most that come and camp in the Lofoten Islands do so at the beaches (Buneset, Horseid, or Kvalvika) rather than a trek, so walk your own walk.
The next morning, we rode with Toming and his family to catch the morning ferry back to Bødo. It was a stormy and rocky ride, so I spent most of the time with my eyes closed napping. We stayed in Bødo for a couple of nights at the cheapest airbnb we can find while relaxing, doing a hike, walking around town, and shopping. Danielle and Alex rent out both of their bedrooms at the airbnb, so it was small but adequate for us.
Bødo is known as the gateway to the Lofoten Islands and is the most southern city where you can see the midnight sun, during the top summer month. Again, there are plenty of groceries (open early), outfitters (open around 10 am), and pharmacies (open around 8:30 am) should you need supplies. Additionally, there is a Sunday farmer’s market.
During our couple of days in Bødo, we mainly bought fresh and smoked fish, cheese, fruits, and veggies for our meals. However we did have a hardy traditional Norwegian meal from the Kafeteria, which was one of the cheapest restaurant around outside of fast food.
There is a tourist center downtown and there are free city walk tours offered by a local. The walk involves heading up to the free observation floor of the Scandic Havet – the tallest building in Bødo, the church, and seeing several of the street around the city.
An attraction about 30 minutes south of the city in Saltstraumen and can be reached by public transportation is the Saltsatraumen Maelstrom (youtube video captured by Gheorghe Falcaru). It is the place of the world’s strongest current that takes place every 6 hours when the tidal change has water rushing from the Skjerstadfjorden to the Saltfjorden.
There are several hiking trails leading away from Bødo as well, the most popular is Keiservarden. It’s what we opted for during our day in Bødo instead.
- name: Keiservarden
- type: in and out
- distance: 3.3 miles
- elevation change: 1214 ft ascend & descend
- time: 2 hours (1.5 hours moving)
- location: Bødo
The trailhead is on the northern side of town. There are couple of trailhead the one we took was at the bottom of the uphill. However there is another one with a carpark further up the hill.
There are 2 ways around the first small lake of Øvre Vollvatnet, both are pretty much the same. We took the left route up.
Following the left route, there is a T intersection. To continued straight at the intersection is a less hiked and more aggressive uphill. The standard Keiservarden route takes the right path at the intersection, which we did.
The first section is among the trees and then continues onto a section of boulders and flat rocks. The final approach to the top are a few sets of stairs, which we climbed into the clouds.
At the summit of Kieserverden is a big flat area with a shelter. From there we can see Bødo in its entirety.
With less cloud cover, the island of Landegode could be seen out at sea. The clouds lifted a little as we started to head down revealing a nice rainbow.
After eating a snack we headed down to get out of the wind.
- view: 3. The views from the high point is a nice 180 view of the city of Bødo, bay, the mountains opposite the bay, and Landegode Island. If you have some time to in Bødo waiting for the ferry or plane, it’s worth a quick 3 mile hike.
- difficulty: 1. The trail is mildly sloped and not very long. Many locals run up the mountain as their exercise.
- technical: 1. The trail is clear and no difficulties.
After 2 nights in Bødo, we had an early 8 am flight to connect to Oslo. We walked the 30 minutes to the airport and our time in Norway came to an end.
I napped on the short flight back to Oslo (OSL) to catch the first of our TAP airlines flight back to the USA. At Oslo, we were able to access the OSL Lounge since our TAP flight was a business class ticket (priority pass is no longer accepted there) for lunch and our first drinks in Norway.
Our flight from OSL to Lisbon (LIS) was in coach, but it was a short uneventful flight.
We landed in Lisbon in a completely different weather. At the airport, we bought a 24 hour metropass that took us to our hotel and allowed us to head downtown during our 18 hour layover. We stayed at the Lisbon Marriott using our free night certificate as part of the Chase Marriott card.
After checking in, we headed downtown for dinner and to walk around. Our first option was to head to the well known Vervejaria Ramiro shown on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, but they were closed for renovations. So we settled for the next door Cervejaria Barcabela. Their service was a bit lacking as specified by some tripadvisor reviews, but we enjoyed seafood meal.
We spent the rest of the evening walking around the pretty cool city. The castle at the top of the city just closed when we reached it, so we will have save it for the next time. We enjoyed Lisbon during our layover and really felt the similarities between Lisbon and Rio, though Lisbon felt more relaxed. We’ll have to return for longer next time.
We left for the airport early next morning and had breakfast at the TAP’s new flagship lounge as part of our business class tickets. It was fortunate we left for the plane a little bit earlier as immigration took longer than expected. There were automatic kiosks, but they only worked if Portugal is your port of entry into the EU.
TAP’s business class flight were on Airbus A330-200 planes with a 1-2-1 business class lay flat configuration. It would have been more useful if this was an overnight flight, but we enjoyed getting pampered watching movies and napping.
We landed in rainy Boston (BOS) and spend a fun evening with our friends, thanks Tashuana and Roger for hosting us! Our flights early morning on Southwest back to BWI was uneventful and our quick trip came to an end.
It was a hard decision on where to spend our time in Norway and the Lofoten was much more appealing than the crowded fjords around Bergen. Even though we did experience some wonderful views in the Lofoten Islands, I’d recommend just renting a car and doing day hikes in the fjords around Bergen.
This is because the amount of additional travels to position to the lofoten Islands via flights and ferry really only left us with 4-5 days compared to 6-7 if we just has our Bergen flight. Secondly, the extra flexibility to prepare for the weather is much needed for the temperamental weather above the arctic. Should you have longer than a week, I would highly recommend the Lofoten Islands.
Consider the costly nature of Norway, I was pretty happy with our budget even though we had extra housing and food costs from having to spend 2 more days off the trail. We save money by not drinking and eating out once during our time in Norway. Our flights were more than we could have spent, but it was Business class for about US$300 more.
We spent a total of US$2334.93 out of pocket. We redeemed 57000 US Bank Altitude Points, 5933 southwest points, and 1 Marriott category 1-5 free night from the Chase Marriott credit card worth a total of US$1039 based on thepointsguy’s August 2017 valuations. The total value of the trip is worth US$3373.33 for 2 people. The detailed spreadsheet is listed below.
Lastly, we were able to earn 5712 United Airline miles for both of us with TAP business class flight and 67 Norwegian Reward points.