A Norwegian Adventure: Aurlandsfjord

Aurlandsfjord is a 29km long branch off of Sognefjord, the longest of the Norwegian fjords at 205km. In contrast to Nærøyfjord, Aurlandsfjord is broader and much more exposed to prevailing winds. Shortly after exiting Nærøyfjord on the Gudvangen-Flåm ferry, you come to the quaint village of Undredal, situated at the lower end of a deep, glaciated valley. Known for its goat cheese and stave church, the village was only accessible by boat prior to construction of the Gudvagen and Flenja tunnels. Because of 500m gap between the two tunnels, residents were still able to access Flåm despite the closure of Gudvangentunnelen.

Topographical map of Nærøfjord and Aurlandsfjord.

Topographical map of Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord. Undredal is located at the end of the deep valley between the two. The green indicator denotes the approximate location of the truck fire which closed Gudvangen tunnel for over a month

Mountain farm perched high on the mountainside between the mouth of Nærøfjord and Undredal

Stigen farm perched high on the mountainside between Nærøyfjord and Undredal. Note the kayaks in the water

Undredal and heavily glaciated Undredaldalen

Undredal and Undredalen

Passengers disembarking from ferry, Undredal

Passengers disembarking from ferry, Undredal. The stave church (not seen) is the smallest in Norway and dates to 1147

Past Undredal, the fjord broadens and makes a sharp turn south. At the inner end lies the town of Flåm, terminus of the famous cog railway connecting Fjord Country with the Oslo-Bergen mainline (more in an upcoming post). Because of its importance as a transit hub (train, ferries, highway), the town is popular tourist destination for exploring Sogn og Fjordane and a popular cruise ship destination.

Flåm, with a cruise ship in port

Flåm. Because there is only one dock, passenger on subsequent ships must be transported ashore on emergency craft

View of cruise ship arriving, Flåm marina

View of cruise ship arriving, Flåm marina

For a more authentic Norwegian experience, the town of Aurlandsvangen (Aurland) lies on the eastern shores of the fjord at the mouth of the spectacular Aurlandsdalen (next post). Despite being larger than Flåm, the town falls off the tourist radar. Although we were scheduled to stay here two nights, the infamous tunnel closure meant that we were only able to stay one night. Our hytte was situated on a bluff overlooking the town with magnificent views over the fjord.

Aurlandsvangen (Aurland) and the mouth of Aurlandsdalen

Aurlandsvangen (Aurland) with low-lying clouds over Aurlandsdalen

Approaching the dock, Aurland

Approaching the dock, Aurland

Waving the ferry goodby. Similar to Styvi and Undredal, you have less than 5 seconds to get your butt off the boat...

The fery after dropping us off in Aurland. Similar to Styvi and Undredal, you have 5 seconds to get your butt off the boat…

Vangen Kyirke (Aurland church) in the center of town. It dates from 1202...

Vangen Kyrkje (church), dating to 1202, situated in the centre of Aurland

View of Aurland and Aurlandsdalen

View of Aurland and Aurlandsfjord

View of Aurlandfjord from our hytte

View of Aurlandfjord from the front porch of our hytte

Peaceful early-morning view over Aurlandsfjord

Peaceful early-morning view over Aurlandsfjord

Following our stay in Aurland, we took public transit to Flåm. In preparation for our hiking trip in the rugged Aurlandsdalen, we had kindly been permitted to leave excess luggage at a hytte we would be staying at later in the week. With no car (where we intended to leave our luggage), we decided to use the opportunity to ride the railway before catching one of three buses daily to Aurlandsdalen late afternoon. However, upon arriving, we found the train fully booked for the entire day, further throwing our plans into disarray (for those of you wondering, online booking is not possible). After purchasing tickets for later in the week, we visited the tourist bureau where we were provided with several hiking routes.

We chose one that followed the shores of the fjord back towards Aurland before climbing up to the mountainside farms of Otternes and Vikesland. While Otternes has been converted to a museum, Vikesland still functions as a goat farm.

Otternes, a former farm converted into an open-air museum

Otternes, a former farm converted into an open-air museum

Simple yet solid construction...

Simple yet solid construction…

View back towards Flåm as we climb towards Vikesland

View back towards Flåm as we climb towards Vikesland

Vikesland. And in case you can't tell, it is still a functioning farm...

Vikesland. And in case you can’t tell, it is still a functioning farm…

With land freely available, they are free to roam where ever they want (and block the road)

These boys and girls are free to roam where ever they want, including blocking the road if they wish.

They are also shockingly nimble on the steep. rocky terrain

They are also shockingly nimble on the steep. rocky terrain

Are you looking at me?

Are you looking at me?

View over Vikesland towards Flåm. This was our view for our lunch break

View over Vikesland towards Flåm (bottom right). This was our view for our lunch break

View of our hiking route from Flåm. Otternes is located directly above the cruise ship while Vikesland is in the upper right corner.

View of our hiking route from Flåm. Otternes is located directly above the cruise ship while Vikesland is in the upper right. Note the emergency life boats transporting passengers ashore

Our departure from Aurlandsfjord on the Gudvangen-Flåm ferry

Our departure from Aurlandsfjord on the Gudvangen-Flåm ferry

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About Canadianindenmark

A Canadian expat working in the biotechnology industry in Copenhagen, Denmark
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