A great way to have a fun time and experience the fjords up close is to join a rib boat fjord safari. We had a unique experience and so much fun joining Hardangerfjord Adventure for a sponsored rib boat trip in the Hardangerfjord. If you think a rib boat fjord safari is all about speed, think again. The boat is fast, yes, over 50 knots at the most, but as we learnt, this is not what it is all about.
We had an eventful afternoon allowing us to learn more about the history of the small communities along the fjords, see amazing nature along the way in Fyksesund, and even go ashore in the hidden inaccessible pearl of Botnen. We had coffee with one of the locals, learning more about how it was to grow up in this tiny community.
The trip we joined went to Utne, Fykseund and Botnen. We started at the key in Norheimsund outside the historic Sandven Hotel. The trip went out in the Hardangerfjord, the second longest fjord in Norway.
Going to Utne we crossed an open part of the fjord providing some speed and a bit of “action”, and a feel for the power in the engines and the impressions of the wild sea. Here the fjord is quite open and there is usually a bit of rough sea. The rib handles the sea very well, and I felt completely safe even at maximum speed.
Stopping at Utne allowed us to see the narrow Granvinsfjord and view the mountain Oksen from a distance. It was fun to the see the massive mountain Oksen from the fjord, as the last time we visited Oksen we went skitouring there, a mountain also worth visiting in the summer (see blog post Skitouring to Mt Oksen).
In fact, the Hardangerfjord Adventure also arranges trips called fjord and hiking safari allowing you to take the rib boat across the fjord to the mountain Oksen, and hike to the top.
We went on to the small branch of Hardangerfjord called Fyksesund. A picturesque fjord branch where the water was completely green. The high mountains along the fjord are at about 1000 m.a.s.l. giving it a magic feeling to be on the fjord by open boat.
As we went along the Fyksesund we passed an old closed down mining factory, some small farming communities, and even the old farm Skåro; a completely isolated farm on a mountain cliff 300 m.a.s.l with its only access through the fjord and from the sealevel.
We learnt more about the history of Skåro and the family living there. Our captain and guide Thor-Arvid stopped along way and told us interesting pieces of information with plenty of time to take photos.
I was surprised at how little I knew about the small Norwegian communities along the fjord, despite it not actually being that far from my hometown of Bergen. I really enjoyed learning more.
As we went all the way in to the Fyksesund, passing the Fyksund bridge, you start realizing why the route in here is only accessible by boat. High mountains create a narrow and very beautiful fjord.
We also went closeup to several waterfalls bringing melting snow water from the high mountain plateaus down the steep mountain cliffs.
No roads will bring you to the bottom of this fjord. Perhaps that is why the name of the village in the very end of this fjord is called exactly that; Botnen, meaning “the bottom”. The only other way of getting to Botnen is to hike from the other side of the mountains from the Granvin, Voss, Hamlagrø or Bergsdalen areas.
The highlight of the trip for me was going a shore in Botnen, knowing there would only be us and a few people residing there. Currently Botnen has only 1 permanent inhabitant, and a few people staying there for parts of the year.
As we went ashore there was a calm about the place, seemingly unaffected by the world. It was completely quiet, no wind, green fields, and high mountains. It was truly a piece of “Norway in a nutshell”.
We were even welcomed by one of the locals, living here for parts of the year, and had coffee at his veranda with a great view of the valley and the fjord. Time stood still while we learned more about the history and live in the community of Botnen.
Cruising our way back out through the Fyksesund looking back at Botnen underlined the experience. Looking back at the narrow valley secluded by the high mountains and the green water in the fjord. This is truly an amazing piece of Norway!
Going back, we had all kinds of different lights, the clouds and the sun playing out. In the open water in the Hardangerfjord back to Norheimsund we got some more speed, power, and adrenaline on the way back.
Thanks to the warm suits provided by Hardangerfjord Adventure I was not cold despite there being no wind screen in the open rib boat.
On the way back we passed the mountains Samlen, Grimsnuten, and Klyvenuten, to name a few, along the way. We also got close up to some sheep on pasture at the small island Kvamsøy.
As you ride along here you realize you have allowed way too little time to explore this amazing area. Sadly, we had to go back to Bergen the same evening, but I would have much rather stayed longer in Norheimsund for a few more days and explored more.
If you go to Hardanger, do not miss the opportunity to go for a trip with Hardangerfjord Adventure. In fact, it is well worth making the trip there to do this amazing adventure. And the best thing is that you will get a memorable experience regardless of the weather, I am sure.
We joined a 5-hour trip, and children was allowed on board. To avoid the spread of Covid-19 there were new social distancing rules in the rib boat which had reduced the number of participants allowed onboard.
This should definitely go on your bucket list for Norwegian summer 2020!