Winterhike blog – Skarvan og Roltdalen 2015

Intense Arctic IV – Leadership Expedition Norway

The next morning the group discusses the goal for the day. We decide to leave our camp where it is and hike to the nearby lake. The wind is still very strong, preventing us from climbing the higher summits in the park.Is it really climate change or just a very mild Arctic winter? When we landed at Trondheim Vaernes Airport it was six degrees and the area was free of snow. This is 63 degrees North, only a few hundred kilometers short of the Arctic Circle! The taxi driver who took us into the mountains had never experienced such a snowless and spring-like February in this area of Central Norway. Would this become a spring hike in winter? Would we be carrying our full winter expedition gear across green fields filled with flowers? Continue reading

Scandinavia for kids – Norway

Scandinavia_with_kids_028Norway is one of the richest countries in the world. And if you discount the tiny city states that preceed it in the rankings, it is the richest country in the world. But in Norway this wealth is hardly visible on the street. It is hidden in all kinds of benefits to society, like pension funds, road maintenance, airports, hospitals and schools. Most of this wealth is created by oil, which is almost entirely sold to other countries, as the country itself runs completely on clean and abundant hydroelectric power. Norway is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, but that has nothing to do with its financial wealth… Continue reading

North of the North Cape

Nordkapp_Norway_Mar2014_009The North Cape is one of those places that is on most traveller’s bucket lists. Known as the northernmost point of Europe, situated at 71°10´21˝N, some even claim it is closer to the North Pole than it is to Oslo. It may certainly feel that way and it is good tourism marketing, but it is not true. First of all, it is not the northernmost of Europe. The northernmost point of Europe is Cape Fligely, on Russian Rudolf Island (81°48′24″N), or if you don’t consider that Europe, it is the island of Rossøya on Svalbard, both over 1,000 kilometers north of the North Cape. Those places are definitely closer to the North Pole than to any sizeable city like Oslo. Those places are also virtually impossible to visit, so no travelers ever make it there. Unfortunately for the North Cape it is also not the northermost point of continental Europe, as it lies on a small island. That title goes to nearby Cape Nordkinn (71°08′02″N), a difficult place to visit, but a few hikers make it there every year. Continue reading

40 Years of Ferries

DFDS Seaways Prince of Scandinavia modelI blame this shipmodel on board the DFDS ‘Princess Seaways’. I saw it at the deck 6 lounge of this modern ferry a few weeks ago. It is a scale model of the “Prince of Scandinavia”, a 1975-built ferry that sailed for DFDS Seaways from 1981 to 2003. One of my oldest childhood holiday memories is of this ship, which was originally registered as MS ‘Tor Britannia’, sailing for Tor Line in 1979. I still have a postcard that I got on board that ship, as an eight year old kid.

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Winterhike blog – Barents Sea Expedition 2012

Kirkenes_Norway_24Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz explored the seas around the Northern tip of Norway three times, looking for the infamous northern passage to Asia. On his third journey, in 1596, he stranded in heavy sea ice on the barren island of Nova Zembla, where he ultimately perished after spending the winter in the famous ‘Behouden Huys’, made of the wreckage of his ship in 1597. In an urge to relive some of the crew’s endurance, a small Dutch expedition ventured out to Kirkenes in Northern Norway, to see the part of the Arctic Ocean named after our national 16th century hero, in the middle of the Arctic winter. Continue reading

Winterhike blog – Skarvan og Roltdalen 2013

Intense Arctic Expedition III

Norway Skarvan Roltdalen 2013 09This was the third Intense Arctic Expedition that we organized since 2011. The ‘intense’ concept means that participants have a very short, but intense arctic experience. Three nights of hiking and camping in the snow of a challenging wilderness is enough to have a lifelong impact. It is also intense because it brings you from inside your comfort zone to ‘outside your comfort zone’ – there where the magic happens – in just a few hours. Our favorite location is the rugged Skarvan and Roltdalen National Park in Central Norway. It is close to the Trondheim-Vaernes Airport, which offers several daily direct flights from Amsterdam, by KLM. It is also the northernmost destination you can fly directly from Amsterdam. Perfect for this short experience!
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Winterhike blog – Kilpisjärvi 2011

“Don’t go in the mountains!”

Extreme koude onder het Noorderlicht op 69˚N

Winterhike2011_0321SFins/Noors Lapland 10 t/m 15 febuari 2011 – Dit was de meest noordelijke en koudste tocht van tot nog toe. Via Oslo reisden we naar de Noorse havenstad Tromsø, vanwaar we met de bus naar het Finse Kilpisjärvi gingen. Vanuit deze kleine nederzetting trokken we een van de grootste Arctische hoogvlakten van Lapland op, richting Noorwegen. Op zo’n 500 meter hoogte sliepen we in tenten en bivakzakken onder het Noorderlicht. Het is in februari langer donker dan licht, maar we hebben de zon zeker wel gezien. ‘s Nachts daalden de temperaturen tot rond -35C. Een echte uitdaging! Continue reading

Winterhike blog – Hardangervidda 2009

The real heroes of Telemark

NOR2009_005Noorwegen, 12 t/m 16 maart 2009 – Na enkele jaren op rij te zijn weggeblazen uit de Schotse Cairngorms werd het tijd voor een nieuwe uitdagende bestemming. De mariniers gaan er al jaren heen, dus moesten wij het ook kunnen: in de voetsporen van de ‘Real heroes of Telemark’ die in 1942 de voorraden zwaar water bij de Vemork centrale in Centraal Noorwegen opbliezen. Op 12 maart vlogen we naar een dichtbewolkt Sandefjord en kwamen van een vroege lente in een heftige winter terecht. Gelukkig werd het een prachtig lang winterweekend langs de rand van de Hardangervidda. Kijk snel! Continue reading