Travel Tips for Norway
When to Go: Depends on the region you want to go to... Telemark is the first to go and typically goes in late May to June. The Voss (Hordaland) and Sjoa (Oppland) tend to be later June and July. And the further north regions are July and later...
Entry into Norway: Passport is of course required... but no Visa for folks coming from the US.
Getting to Norway: Bergen or Oslo are the two common entry airports. Bergen is closer to Voss. Oslo to Sjoa. We used Oslo and drove a loop to Telemark, then to Voss, then to Sjoa, and back to Oslo. Or if you drive to Norway from Europe, check the ferry schedules for the entry locations.
Ferries into Norway: In case you are driving in from somewhere further south in Europe... check the ferry routes and schedules
Gauges: There are websites for river gauges... the challenge though is that some rivers have different names, some display in feet above sea level (which the locals know what that converts to etc). I found that for the most part... only a few rivers were easily understandable for knowing what the flow was. Gauge site here .
- Info in English is readily available. Klatz/Obsommer wrote a great guidebook that is in English and German that was very useful, "Norway the White Water Guide" (Amazon Link). It is pricey but totally worth it. Also check out the UKRiversGuidebook write-up here. There is also another guidebook that is in pdf form that I am uncertain of copywrite restrictions. Because of that I am hesitant to post my copy of it, but if you are looking for it I can get a copy of it to you if you can't find it. (I actually don't know the author's name nor the title of it as I don't have the introduction section).
- One thing to note: The river ratings here are harder than you would typically see. We did a few class III-IV runs that were very much class IV+ with a very real risk of flush drowning if you swam. Class IV to V felt like V. Class V felt like V+. The class VI in the Klatz/Obsommer book must feel like next level shit! Of course, California has a similar reputation, but I feel it is more closely similar to British Columbia as far as runs being plain and simply... really hard!
- Also, just an FYI if you get the book, over the past few days I have been mapping the runs to build my write-ups and the info I find on distances is VERY different than much of the book's write-ups. For example, they list the Lower Jori as 17 km (10.5 miles) where as I just measured and remeasured it as 6.2 miles. Same thing for the Åsengjuvet section on the Sjoa... 8.7 miles versus the 7.8 that I measured.
Water: OK to drink from faucets etc.
- You do not need an international driving license... but, rules are changing more and more in Europe, if you get pulled over an international drivers permit ($15 from AAA) are requested. Some rental car agencies are also stating it is a requirement... though to date I have not heard anyone actually be asked for it at the counter. So... better safe that sorry right?
- Tolls are present in Norway. though for the most part it is for bridges or some of the longer tunnels. There are also a few when you are going into various National Parks like on the Store Ula.
- There are also a lot of speed camera's... and they are sticklers. It is best not to speed... which is hard since their speed limits feel very low. But I have been told the tickets are VERY expensive, like $500.
- One final note on driving… be aware your car will likely be a stick (almost all are) and will take Diesel fuel (almost all do). So know how to drive a stick and make sure to put the correct fuel in the car.
- GPS: Last year in Italy/Switzerland I found an app called Navfree (now it is called NavMii) which is basically Google Maps but offline. This means that you can search and route your way around the country without internet or a data plan. So that is awesome. It is one map per country and they run 200-500 mb but work great. This year I also had a map Galileo which allowed me to save the .kml files from my planning (that I have on the website's map section) so we were able to see all the way points and camping spots etc. That map app wouldn't route though so we had to use both apps.
Vaccinations: No extra needed.
Money: Plenty of ATMs that take US ATM cards. Just make sure to tell your bank before you go, in some countries 4 digit pins (no more) are required... Also, even on your credit card, get a pin put on. Also, much of Europe requires credit cards with chips on them. So look into that… Also bring more than one. We had cards work at one spot, and others not… and then vice versa at other locations. Also, just an FYI… Norway uses the Norwegian Krone, not the Euro as some might think.
Prices: I was prepared for the worst... but perhaps because of how strong the dollar is (2015 it went from 7.74 Kr to 8.1 Kr while we were there) things werent that bad. Meat and Beer was not so cheap, but we still found relatively cheap meat to cook. Prices at restaurants were expensive so we cooked all our own meals. Some things like nuts, were actually substantially cheaper than in the US.
Food: Honestly... we did not explore the local cuisine due to the cost of eating out.
Boats: Bring your own... there is nowhere that I know of near these areas to rent. The kayak shop in Voss is now closed, I do not know of one in Sjoa either... you could probably arrange to buy one off of someone who is traveling in prior but finding that boat for sale etc could be logistically hard. Though with that said, I have noticed lots of people seeking and selling boats for sale on the facebook group "Kayaking Norway." So that seems like a legitimate route to try!
Accommodations: We camped every night. Norway has a very open policy about camping... they view land as a right to the public as long as you are not disturbing anyone. You might not want to leave tents set up for several days or be next to someone's house, but basically anywhere that looks ok to camp is. There is also pay camping everywhere if you want a shower. In Sjoa there is the kayak camp which for 50 kr (2015) is a great place to go to meet other boaters or get beta on flows in the area. Voss had some places that were well travelled but we tended to bounce around camping near each river we were boating and did not interact much with other groups.
Weather: The weather can be all over the place. We had warm days and cold rainy days. Even the warm days though... dry suit was good. Bring extra layers in case it is especially cold. The water is VERY cold all the time, so be prepared for it. We actually used pogies on one or two days.
Night / Daylight: Don't bother bringing your flashlight... you won't need it. Near the Summer Solstice the sun sets at 11:30 pm and rises at 3:30 am. Though it never gets dark. At no point could you not read under the ambient light from the sun just below the horizon. For this reason, I would also highly suggest you bring eye masks to aid in sleeping. Unfashionable perhaps, but very functional in Norway!
Random Thing to do: I really enjoyed driving around the Hardangervidda National Park. Really beautiful and somewhat close to Voss. Also, the drive from Voss to Sjoa was amazing.
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