Below the Arctic Circle

Vast spaces of lush green, mighty fjords and giant waterfalls – even if you are spoiled by the beauty of the Lofoten Islands, you will be amazed by what the world below the Arctic Circle has to offer!

Rondane National Park, founded in 1962 is Norway‘s oldest national park. Due to the clouds that covered the sky the entire time I spent in the park, I couldn’t see any of the mountain peaks; however, the ground was almost entirely covered in green-yellow lichen which gave the landscape a uniqueness I had never imagined before. Seemingly the same but yet so different and beautiful wherever you look, with its hundreds of creeks and lake Rondvatnet which is surrounded by mountains that make it look like a fjord, the park as a whole, combined with the heavy clouds created a spirit of silence and peace.

Shaped by glaciers millions of years ago, the Geiranger Fjord is just one out of more than a thousand Norwegian fjords. But for sure it is one of the most beautiful ones, if not the most beautiful. Therefore it is no wonder that the little village of Geiranger at the end of the fjord is crowded with thousands of tourists. Busses and giant cruise ships eject masses of people each day that all fan out to take selfies with troll statues, waterfalls, the fjord, their cruise ship, the grocery store or whatever else they can find and then stream into the little souvenir shops to buy elk-shaped cheese slicers and t-shirts or key chains with the Norwegian flag on them before they swarm back to their ships and busses in the evening, but not before having posted a card for their loved ones at home. It seems thus to be difficult finding a calm place where you can enjoy nature by yourself. But it actually isn‘t – you just need bad weather. And Norway has to offer a lot of that. Hiking in the rain can be uncomfortable, but it gives you a tranquility that you only share with nature and a handful of other hikers. The low-hanging clouds create a unique atmosphere that you won‘t get on any other day. And the most impressive thing to do is, of course, hiking along the ragged walls of the rather small, but therefore even more formidable Fjord.

Trolltunga – the troll‘s tongue – is another tourist attraction. It is one of Norway‘s most popular hikes, attracting 40,000 people annually. Most of the visitors choose to hike the 23 kilometers (round trip) in a single day, but if you want to enjoy the view without the masses, it is better to bring a tent and camp on the mountain which gives you the opportunity to have Trolltunga just for yourself, in the evening and the early morning. That‘s what I did. Hiking in the rain – again – with a backpack full of supplies and a tent was demanding but manageable. I started the trek at around 7am so when I arrived five hours later, the place was already full of people. I put up my tent (in the rain!) and slept until the evening when there were only a few hikers left. Soon after the hikers left, the rain left too, and I was nearly alone, sharing the spectacular view with only a small group of fellow campers as well. Again, the bad weather made the dusky scenery look fantastic, creating a gloomy and mysterious mood which peaked when fog rose from below, enwrapping the troll‘s tongue and hiding it in a hazy veil of mist. By 6 o’clock the next morning, all of the fog was gone and it was sunny. Campers woke early for morning photos and the first hiker had already arrived. It was nice to see some sunlight, but it couldn’t beat the misty evening vibes. After some more hours of sleep, I started the trek back, again in the rain…

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