Kayaking in Kabelvag

kabelvag-250Kayaking in Kabelvag was an adventure on my first visit to Norway and I have returned twice a year since. I fell in Love with the idea of Norway due to the jutted edges of the coastline. Looking at an atlas, Norway has similarities to the west coast of Scotland which is exceptional for wild country camping near water. My idea of the best scenery in the world is shared by many and comprises of mountain peaks towering above the sea or a lake. The length of the west coast of Norway offers this more than any other country and the altitudes directly abutting the ocean to boot. After further research, I also found that wild country camping is a must in Norway and the Fjords were exactly what I was looking for.

It is important to consider the extent of your camping skills, camping in the cold climate needs training and technical equipment. It is important to note that you will most likely require an expedition guide to offer you both.

Then I was to work out which season I should visit. The first activity I wanted to do was kayaking around the coast, fjords and islands, boat excursions to enjoy sea-life and dog sledding across the snow covered landscape. Northern Lights were also a consideration but I found that something had to be compromised to ensure I could enjoy being in the water and snow with beautiful light conditions. I decided to go north rather than south to accommodate the dog sledding and being within the Arctic Circle to top off this experience of a lifetime.

I turned my head to the atlas again, there it was: the Lofoten Islands so prominently reaching out to sea. I then read that the National Geographic considered the archipelago one of the top three most beautiful in the world.

Many would consider kayaking in Arctic conditions a little harsh, but the season gave us complete tranquillity. Spring here is generally considered out of season, I am looking to change this perception as I believe it to be the ultimate time. Nature is reborn and alive, unspoilt by man’s many footprints. Hardly a tourist in sight anywhere and although writing about it will encourage others, I am inclined to be unselfish! It is a truly beautiful season.

A rare opportunity to see snow partially covering white/golden sand and dispersing to show the beautiful beaches and crystal blue water

I came early April as the season is turning to experience milder winter conditions and Northern Norway allows you to incorporate all the activities. I was absolutely right in every way! The sky was constantly blue, the sun drenched the landscape and most importantly their was ample snow everywhere.

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On arrival to the beach at Kabelvag, I saw outstanding beauty. I don’t think another location could have provided such an inviting and luxurious back drop. Snow rolling over the golden sands towards crystal clear waters and surrounded by the coastline of high peaks, little pointy islands and a scattering of Norwegian spruce trees. This was utter Bliss!  Having returned so many times since, its hard to believe how many locations offer this “magic” in Northern Norway.

Kristin my guide from Lofoten Kajakk and I unloaded the kayaks onto the snow, where she showed me how to prepare and load the kayaks for the day and future expeditions. I was being totally spoilt having Kristin my guide all to my self!

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Superb equipment and dry suit was provided, looking smart and a drysuit is always flattering! Good quality base layers are essential to bring of course, plus woolly hat and wool socks which worked exceptionally well under the dry suit. I was toasty warm and just right. My UK standard Army patrol socks had proven to be better than most very expensive technical socks. They are a must for any Arctic trip!

IMG_7299Very excited to be getting into Arctic waters for the first time and being well equipped, I couldn’t feel any temperature difference at all. There was a feeling of absolute purity and fulfilment looking at my surroundings, then seeing such clarity through the water beneath. Kristin taught me everything I needed to know about sea kayaking and then pushed me off the beach. This was the most peaceful and clear headed I had ever been!

The clarity of the water invited you to look down any time you were not taking in the views above. Everywhere you looked was pure and thought provoking. A number of sea eagles passed us above and although so quiet, the sound of oyster catchers occasionally broke the silence.

We explored islands of different sizes and found one to get out of the water and have lunch. Kristin picked well with a 360 degree view. The colours of nature that surround us are probably the most under rated component of a view. Here it is unmissable, the blue’s of the sky and water, the white of the snow, the charcoal grey of the mountains and the green of the spruce trees, all complimented by the yellow of the kayak. Again, I find myself wondering, is there another season that offers such perfect conditions?

My general rule is to experience a region at different times of the year, but I can’t imagine losing one of the components that made this trip so special. The ability to be in the water one day and take off to the snow the next, what more could you ask for?

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Uniqiue to Lofoten and Northern Norway is the sweet and salty smell of the cod drying in the open air. It awakens the senses and exceptionally pleasant on the nose. A good aroma helps memories last longer.

Lasting thoughts on the picturesque journey back to Henningsvaer was how the golden beaches would change throughout the seasons, who is mad enough to climb the vertical 1000ft of The Priest, a famous climbing crag on route (it turns out Kristin does) and witnessing hundreds of spiked summits that push out from the sea from the smallest of vessels, the kayak! The ultimate juxtaposition guaranteed.

baffin-babesI thoroughly enjoyed meeting Kristin and the inspiring content of our conversation. I was so enamoured by her and our surroundings I felt a need to ensure Kristin didnt take it for granted. Of course she doesn’t! Hence why Kristin spends every second of her time amongst the elements here and around the world, one of the Baffin Babes, a travel journalist and photographer, I am proud to know her. Keep up to date with her incredible work by subscribing here: Kristin Folsland Olsen Photography 

We were to travel to Unstad the following day to surf the Arctic waters. To find out how to experience Norway on Expedition, email us at info@tomorrowbear.com or subscribe. We have exciting opportunities coming up….

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