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Fjord Fashion
By Trish Smith
12 October 2010

When Dressing for the Fjord, Choose Function over Fashion

The ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ tour is a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure kind of tour. There are several destinations, various modes of transport, many stop-overs and numerous activities to indulge in. You just have to figure out what you want to see, how many days you have available, and how big your budget is. I wanted to see the fjords. I had two nights and three days. And I decided early on that it was worth investing a big chunk of my Oslo budget in this tour because why on earth would you travel to the other side of the world and NOT see the thing that the country is best known for? It would be like coming to Australia and not seeing a koala. Or the Sydney Opera House. Or a poisonous spider.

A Fjord Safari was on offer from the town of Flåm where I had decided to spend my first night. Actually there were a few Safaris to choose from, but only one had any seats left (note to others: book early). I ended up joining the Heritage Safari with three other tourists, a trip that would take us from Flåm to Gudvangen. These two towns are at the ends of two different ‘fingers’ of the Sognefjord. Imagine your arm is the Sognefjord. Flåm is at the tip of your index finger and Gudvangen is at the tip of your thumb. But you have to travel a bit further toward your elbow before you head back up to your thumb. OK not a great analogy.

Having spent the night in Flåm I already knew it was fairly cool outside; jeans and a light jacket weather. But when you’re on a boat that travels quite rapidly across the water in Norway at the start of autumn you want nothing less than an Arctic-graded sleeping bag with sleeves. Fortunately, they are provided, and come with the added benefit of being buoyant, in case you’re foolish enough to fall overboard:
That’s me on the left in my fetching orange float suit

Our driver joked that they had never actually been proven to be buoyant because nobody had ever fallen in but we could try them out if we wanted to. No thanks.

The hoods, goggles and gloves are also provided. If I can offer some further advice to would-be Fjord Safari passengers, it would be to wear a thick scarf, a warm hat and an extra pair of gloves. If you have thermal underwear, wear it. And I would think twice before taking children on this tour this late in the season; my kids would have been miserably cold.

Getting ready to board the boat

We were in the boat for a couple of hours. Our driver slowed down a few times so that we could get a better look at the small towns we were passing, and he stopped in front of the more spectacular waterfalls so we could take photos and generally gawp at the scenery. He was also very knowledgeable about the area, the towns and history. It was quite fascinating.

We were hoping to catch sight of whales but didn’t, however we did see a group of seals sunning themselves on some rocks. Look carefully and you can see three seals on the rocks, and a couple in the water.

The next leg of the ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ tour also takes that same route from Flåm to Gudvangen, but in a slower boat - the Ferry.

This is actually a really lovely journey along the fjord, and if you don’t have time for the Fjord Safari tour from Flåm you will get to see it from the deck of this Ferry. I am glad I signed up for the Safari, and I’m glad I stayed the night in Flåm. I love Flåm so much I even bought a t-shirt that said “I *heart* Flåm”

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