Norway: The Glorious Islands of Lofoten

A few months ago, I visited Norway to discover the beauty of the Lofoten Islands. I roamed these magnificent islands over 15 days of hiking, bivouac, stunning sunsets and outdoor photography. Lofoten is home to some of the most beautiful places I have seen, culminating in my last bivouac at the Reinebringen summit.

The adventure began after a long flight from France.  I arrived in Bodø and took the boat to Værøy, an island in the south of Lofoten.  I found two hikes particularly interesting here; the first one at Nordlandsnupen with its view over the Lofoten Islands, and the second one at Haheia summit that I highly recommend if you are short on time.  The views from these vantage points are spectacular.  Should you be able to time your hike just right, the sun setting over the peninsula is a truly special experience that you won’t soon forget.

Værøy

The Lofoten islands have many amazing white sand beaches. One of the most beautiful is Kvalvika. It takes just an hour to reach this amazing beach, where you’ll be lucky to see a few courageous surfers riding the frigid waves.

If you want to continue up to the Ryten summit, you will need an additional two hours.  I set up camp for the night and watched the last light of the sun disappear into the ocean high above Kvalvika beach.

Kvalvika

The stunning beaches don’t end there; in the northeast, you’ll find the incredible Utakleiv  Beach to discover, with a wintry-white sand landscape featuring large rocks and boulders.

Utakleiv

A few kilometers past Utakleiv, you can catch another eye-popping view from Offersøykammen. This hike is not difficult and the view truly encapsulates the magnificent and diverse landscapes of Lofoten. Steep mountains with white sand beaches at its feet shape the fjords and a contrasting sea floor.

Offersøykammen.jpg

In the course of a few days of exploring Lofoten from south to north, I was left with a feeling of amazement and gratitude for experiencing so many natural wonders.  From the windy, snowy mountain storms near the Munkebu refuge to the charm of Nusfjord, one of the oldest fishing villages on the UNESCO world heritage list, Lofoten delivered some unforgettable experiences.

MunkebuNusfjord

During this trip, it was important for me to capture as many sunsets and sunrises as possible, so camping in the Lofoten mountains was my personal preference. Nonetheless, I was sure to spend a night in one of the many ‘rorbuer’ found in the area.  Typical to this northern fishing region, rorbuer are picturesque, brightly-colored houses built on stilts, straddling the icy waters below.  I chose one in Sakrisøy, a little fishing village between Reine and Hamnøy, surrounded by fjords and awesome mountains.  You can truly take in the Lofoten culture in one of these places.

Reine

After a short night in a cozy hut complete with a shower, kitchen and comfortable bed, I awoke at 3:00 am to enjoy the golden hours of the sunrise. An unexpected surprise awaited me in those early morning hours – as I slowly opened my curtains, a gentle snowfall greeted me.

Early mornings might not be for everyone, but discovering Reine under a snowy blanket definitely should be!  I packed my reflex camera, tripod and filters, and began my stroll throughout Reine, Sakrisøy and Hamnøy in the early morning light, alone in the midst of red and yellow fishing huts, seagull songs, and the scent of dried fish.

Reine 2HamnøySakrisøy

I spent two days exploring Reine before embarking on a final hike to the Reinebringen summit.  Probably my fondest memory, this challenging hike was 1 kilometer in length and 500 meters in height.  The steep climb rewards the adventurous with panoramic views of the fjords, with Reine, Sakrisøy and Hamnøy sitting 500 meters below.

The best moment of this experience was the weather. As I began to reach the summit, a winter storm enveloped me.  I urgently installed the tent and took some pictures of this incredible moment before taking shelter.  A few minutes later, the sun was back and I could enjoy my fish sandwich with this amazing view. In the evening, a second bigger storm left in its wake a thin layer of snow before the sunset.

I spent some time just taking in this magical moment, my eyes overwhelmed by the glorious landscape and atmosphere surrounding me. It was the perfect ending to my adventure, as this night was to be my last amongst the wonders of Lofoten.ReinebringenReinebringen 2

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