Much Better Adventurer, Catherine Allen, tells about her weekend kayaking, hiking and wild-camping in the Norwegian fjords.
Hi Catherine. Thanks for agreeing to speak with us.
No problem. Well, it depends what you’re going to ask me. Is the Norway trip one of your most popular trips out of interest?
It is one of our most popular trips, that’s correct. We’re just trying to figure out why!
Great. I did the two-day kayaking and one-day hiking trip at the end of August last year. I went by myself and joined a group of people I’d never met before.
Cool. So why did you book the trip?
For two reasons. Firstly, I’m getting into sea-kayaking, so it was a good taster for me to try some kayaking away from lakes and rivers, which is what I’d been doing up until now. And the Norwegian fjords is somewhere I’ve always wanted to see. This trip was a great way of combining both of these in one neat, short package.
That’s great, the fjords really are breathtaking. Did you enjoy the opportunity to develop new skills over a weekend?
Yes definitely. I have done a fair amount of kayaking before, but it did push me outside of my comfort zone. It was a very different environment to what I was used to. And the fjords are… big. *Laughs.*
Was it nice to meet other people with a similar interest in kayaking?
Yes it was. I was a little nervous though. I’m probably slightly older than your usual guests, but the mix of people turned out to be fantastic. We all got on really well and bonded over the new landscape and experience. At the end, we created a facebook group, swapped photos and messages, and some of us have stayed in touch ever since.
Can I ask how you found out about us?
Well, I was looking for trips in the Atlas mountains and stumbled across your website. I just really liked the idea of how much you can do in two or three days. I thought it was such a good idea. I didn’t have much annual leave, so the idea of seeing the fjords and doing some kayaking seemed like a real no-brainer. So I booked.
I also have to say I was impressed with the way you guys organised everything, I came away from my first experience with Much Better Adventures feeling very positive, so I will be booking again soon. Well done!
*Laughs* I’ll pass that onto the guys. In regards to the trip, how did the landscape match up to what you were expecting?
It was better than expected. I mean we’ve all seen documentaries on the internet, but your brain can’t comprehend just how unique the landscape is until you get there. And to see it in a kayak is probably the best way to see it.
We saw a couple of tourist speedboats whizz through in around 30 seconds. But that’s not really experiencing it. In a kayak you can spend the whole day paddling the fjord, to really appreciate it. But you should spend the whole day paddling the length of the fjord.
You smell it, you feel it, you see it. Just amazing.
So would you say that having a guide enhanced the experience?
Yes definitely. We had a great guide from New Zealand who did an excellent job. He knew the area well and was able to tell us a lot of the history and culture in that part of Norway. Having someone who knew the stories of the Vikings and the fjords really made it come alive.
He was also very good at keeping the forward momentum; when you needed to work together as a group to pitch tents and stow your kit and makes fires and the rest of it. So having someone who could keep everything together was really helpful.
I can imagine that in some circumstances, guiding a mixed-ability group could be like herding cats.
Nobody had any problems though, even though we were a mixed ability group, everyone enjoyed themselves and our guide kept us all together.
And what did you make of the wild camping?
I really liked that part of it. It brought everyone together. We all had to chip in with the washing up and cooking and everything, so it became a social activity.
You’d had a hard day walking or kayaking, and at the end, we all mucked in. We joked, teased, laughed, enjoyed the food. It was a really good time.
And the food was tasty?
The food was very good. Much better than I thought.
I have to say, kayaking is the way to see the fjords. That’s what I’ve come away feeling.
As opposed to viewing them from a motorboat I suppose?
Yes definitely. The Norwegians have banned aircrafts flying over that area of the fjords as it is a UNESCO heritage site, and there aren’t many tourist boats. So when there are no boats around, it is completely still and silent.
That’s certainly one thing that I will remember about wild camping. When you wake up, you watch the whole fjord wake up with you.
Imagine; It’s a little bit misty, there’s a few bird calls, very atmospheric. You can really feel it.
And in Norway, you are allowed to pull up and camp pretty much anywhere, providing you aren’t there for more than one night, I think. The law of ‘allemansrätten’ or ‘all man’s right’ I believe it’s called.
And how did you find the length of the trip?
Yes I thought it was great. At the end, I remember sitting at the airport with a few others from the trip, and it sort of felt like I’d been away for weeks or months – sort of like stepping out the closet of Narnia. As if you’d had a lifetime and everything else had only had a couple of days. But I suppose I felt a little deflated, as I could have happily carried on like that few more days doing that.
*Laughs* I’ve never heard that comparison before!
Well I mean it is a totally different landscape to anything you would find in the UK.
So what did your family and friends say when you got back from the trip?
Well, they were all quite jealous. I mean, everyone knows it is beautiful. They could see me being so enthusiastic, and get all dreamy eyed over the trip, so they could see there was something more going on.
Well, that’s fantastic to hear. Thank you.
Honestly, I was very impressed by you guys. You’ve set the bar high, so in the next trip, I’ll be expecting unicorns and rainbows!