Hang out with goats in Norway. // © 2015 Flam Guide Service
Feature image (above): A view of a fjord // © 2015 Simon Dannhauer
Out of all the activities on my Norway itinerary, the “fjord safari” in Flam was the one I knew the least about. I was expecting a quiet morning boat ride until our guides began to hand us the bright-green survival suits.
I have to admit that this took me off guard — our guides were two young women who barely looked old enough to be out of high school, let alone lead a safari deep into the mountain lakes of Norway.
I later found out that these green suits were meant to serve as our protection from both wind and water. Our craft was a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) offering virtually no protection from the harsh elements. Once we were settled and out onto Aurlandsfjord, I immediately realized why the suit was so necessary.
A fjord is a deep mountain lake surrounded by magnificent peaks. Aurlandsfjord, in part-icular, is hundreds of feet deep with dramatic cliffs rising abruptly from sea level. Luckily, the fjord was calm enough where we could maneuver the RIB at speeds that would have been deadly anywhere else.
We rode past the brown-cheese making town of Undredal and glided near the remote mountain-top homes that were accessible only by climbing 100-foot ladders.
Wildlife was everywhere. I noticed porpoises playing in the water, curious seals approaching our boat and majestic eagles dipping low to watch as we passed.
The moment our boat came to a stop in the town of Skjerdal, we shed the suits and moved on to our next adventure: an hour-and-a-half uphill hike. Our guides had already given us what felt like the experience of a lifetime, but this is where the tour really began.
As we trekked higher, we picked and ate apples off trees. We learned of childhood legends that required us to throw stones at a boulder resembling a troll. We were introduced to locals we saw on the way. We crossed over bridges, passed waterfalls and bisected a massive herd of noisy goats.
At the end of the hike, we found ourselves at the Leim mountain farm, where we dug into packed lunches made with the freshest local ingredients (so fresh, in fact, that we could see where they were harvested from where we sat on our mountain perch). We gazed down at the endless green blanket of grass leading all the way to the fjord, listening to the jingle of goat bells in the distance.
Our guides made us feel more at home and welcome in this beautiful place than we could have ever imagined. As the time to begin the trek back down to the fjord approached, I realized I never wanted to leave.