If you have seen the list of my favorite Dubai-based Instagrammers, you know that Ayesha (@ajtravel) has made it to the list due to the amazing landscape pictures she takes in Dubai and around the world. One of Ayesha’s go-to destinations is Norway which remains to a large extent off the tourist radar of Middle East-based travelers. I asked Ayesha for reasons she thinks you should visit Norway. Here is what she had to say:
You can follow Ayesha’s adventures on Instagram at @ajtravel.
“I recall many late nights as a child reading fairy tales of a land where the Vikings once roamed, where trolls and giants climbed jagged edged mountains and drank from the eternal waters off of a long and winding river. Little did I know that all these tales stemmed their inspiration from the beautiful landscapes that make up Norway.
As a landscape photographer, I am always in search for a new challenge and I wasn’t sure what my journey through the Norwegian landscapes would bring. Three trips later I could not get enough of the endless mountains, the majestic fjords and the glaciers that remarkably are distinct from any part of the world. Here are some reasons why I think you should visit Norway:
1. Land of the Midnight Sun: The thought of an endless summer where the sun never sets sounds something out of a Tolkien series, but in actuality this phenomena exists up in the northern parts of Norway known as “Midnight Sun”. During the summer months the sun never sets above the Arctic Circle, which means you can enjoy watching the sun set on the horizon and rise back up right in front of your eyes. The Norwegians take advantage of the long days and enjoy various activities including midnight kayaking or midnight whale watching. If your journey could not take you up to the Arctic Circle you can still enjoy late night sunsets like this shot I took at 11:45PM at the outskirts of Oslo.
2. Mystical winters: After the long summers, autumn and winter brings about long nights, but nights filled with stars and mystical green and pink lights that dance throughout the night. It comes as no surprise with the ample amount of Auroras shots flooding our Instagram feeds as many people have placed this beautiful phenomenon on their bucket list. From my various experiences in chasing Auroras, there is nowhere as beautiful as Norway to experience it. Starting September all the way through to April people flock to the island of Lofoten or the northern parts of Norway to enjoy some of the most beautiful backdrop with the Auroras.
For the wanderlusters who would like to tick the Auroras off their bucket list it would be best to watch the Auroras from northern parts of Norway. A connecting flight from Oslo could take you to Tromso, Navrik or the Lofoten Islands, all places that have ample amount of tours available for you to book during the Aurora season.
3. Endless Roadtrips: There are many places to explore around Norway so be prepared for the long journeys and do not be misled by what Google Maps defines as your route. Expect detours that will extend your trip from a typical 4 hour trip to perhaps 6 but it will all be worth it. So prepare your GoPro & camera and be ready to jump out at any point for an epic shot.
4. Natural Adrenaline Rush: Other than photographers, Norway’s Arctic Circle is a haven for adrenaline junkies. The Islands of Lofoten has now become an popular location for surfers, boulder climbers and divers. Can you blame them though? Some of the world’s wildest landscapes and toughest terrains can put the adrenaline junkie’s skills to test.
5. Waterfalls: If there is one thing Norway is not in shortage of it has to be waterfalls. Just to paint you a picture, according to the Norwegian tourism board, 10 out of the 30 tallest waterfalls in the world flow through Norway. Whether you like to enjoy a picnic by one during the summer time or climb frozen ones during the winter, both time of the years have so many different choices for you to enjoy. Ensure you put together your wishlist and sometimes you will still find some waterfalls which were never part of the list to begin with during your roadtrip.
6. The Friluftsliv Life: While people dream about staying in white stoned villas in Santorini or over water bungalows in the Maldives, you cannot leave Norway without staying in one of the many iconic Fishermen cottages, also known as a Rorbu during your trip. These are ideal places to disconnect from the outside world and focus on what the Norwegians call the “Friluftsliv” Life – which translated to returning back to nature. One of the most iconic fishing villages in Norway is Reine, part of the Lofoten Islands.
7. Wildlife: With wild landscapes and seas comes a variety of wildlife. Norway gives you an opportunity to be adventurous and have a close encounter with humpback whales and Orcas. Some travel far north to spot a polar bear during a boat right up in Svalbard. But for those who would like to venture in the central parts of Norway, keep your eyes peeled for reindeer, wolves. and moose.
8. Food: When it comes to Norwegian cuisine, it is no surprise to many to find their restaurants filled with a wide variety seafood and one of their biggest exports that we find in every supermarket we roam is their salmons but they have a wide variety to enjoy. However, it wasn’t just seafood that these mighty Vikings lived on. So be prepared to try some elk and reindeer meat! One of the greatest finds (perhaps why I have returned often) is the soft and smooth Brunost cheese which can only be found in Norway. This cheese is made with both whey and milk which I must admit, I have had more than one should have in a normal serving!
My Suggested Summer Itinerary:
Day one and two: Dubai to Oslo
— Enjoy the beautiful capital on your own slow pace. Enjoy the quirky spots and coffee shops that make this city unique before you are set for the long road trip ahead.
Day three and four: Oslo – Eidfjord
— Let the road trip begin! As mentioned before, expect many stops along the way and one particular one is to Vorginfossen, one of the most famous waterfalls in Norway. This waterfall is a must before you make your way to your place at Eidfjord.
— The next day, strap on your hiking boots and get ready to venture out to Troltunga, one of the locations that is on many bucket lists of the visitors of Norway.
Day four and five: Eidforjd – Bergen
— Although the trip may not take long but there are worthy stops along including Modabal Canyon, a waterfall you can walk through! However I do recommend leaving some time to explore Bergen.
— Take the next day to explore the surroundings of Bergen such as Voss known to be a great spot for some water adventures and waterfall spotting.
Day six and seven: Bergen to Balestrand
— Leave the city behind to enjoy life back in the fjords of Balestrand, perhaps rent out one of the many fishermen cabins by the fjord take the next two days to switch off and enjoy some of the wild landscapes of Norway.
Day eight and nine: Balestrand to Geiranger
— Today your set for a long drive to Geiranger however the scenic route is filled with so much beautiful spots you are bound to make many pit stops including to the Jostedal Glacier, the biggest glacier in all of Europe.
— Take the day off from driving and get active and enjoy a bit of hiking or kayaking around the fjords. There are many opportunities around Geiranger to be active .
Day 10: Geiranger to Oslo
— While you have the option to travel to the city of Vodal (a two hour drive from Geiranger) and take an hour flight to Oslo to return home, make another stop in the small town of Lillehammer (making your trip 5 hours rather than 8) before you head back out to Oslo.