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EXPERIENCE THE FJORDS FROM THE COCKPIT OF A KAYAK

By  December 5, 2015

We glide unobtrusively above the mirror-like surface of the fjord. Our disturbance generates paltry ripples that emanate away from the underside of our sea kayak. Tiny droplets spatter onto the deck as the paddle blades are raised into the air; we are also caught in the drizzle.  The paddle shaft rotates mechanically in my left hand and with each rotation each blade takes a turn to propel us soundlessly forward. Paddling in unison, we find our rhythm, and gently wrinkle the perfect reflection as we skim ahead. In the distance we can hear the sound of rushing, flowing water progressively increasing in intensity: leaking through then cascading from the towering precipices that surround us. In the mountains’ shadow we still feel warm comforted by the numerous layers overlaid by our lifejacket. Out here in the open water I feel in harmony with nature; privileged to witness such unique beauty. We are no longer in the London rat race. Now acclimatised to the slower pace, I feel at peace.

Photo 1. The view of Aurlandsfjord from the cockpit of a kayak

Photo 1. The view of Aurlandsfjord from the cockpit of a kayak

Our Irish guide raises his paddle horizontally above his head. He wants us to stop. As we practised this morning, the three tandem kayaks huddle together in parallel rows. Our guide flicks his long, auburn fringe from his forehead and begins to explain what a fjord (pronounced fee-yord) is, ‘A deep valley carved in rock by glaciers and eventually filled by seawater.’ ‘We are on one of the fingers of the Sognefjord, the Aurlandsfjord,’ he describes as he raises his open left hand. For several minutes he relays his knowledge of fjord facts and figures maintaining our attention with the occasional question. ‘The mountains either side of the fjord can indicate…,’ his voice trails off and he stops midsentence.

Distracted and speechless his gaze is fixed beyond us. We all hear a soft, muffled noise like the sound of an air pistol and our guide’s eyes widen as he excitedly gestures behind us. We clumsily try to turnaround in our cockpits. Scanning the foreground of where he had pointed our stare is drawn to two more spitting sounds. There we see them as one lunges and is mimicked by the other. At first seeing the distinctive dorsal fin we immediately exclaim, ‘Dolphins!’, however we were later corrected.

Photo 2. Can you spot the harbour porpoise?

Photo 2. Can you spot the harbour porpoise?

Typically they have been mistaken for seals but these were harbour porpoises and although common it is the first time our guide had come across them this season. Spellbound we all followed the lunges of the pod of porpoises, four in total, as they circled our position. We eagerly predicted where their rounded heads would surface next so we could awkwardly capture a photo. The crystal clear water under our kayaks revealed a porpoise darting below our hulls: just a fleeting image. We sat captivated for some time before we decided to restart our tour and complete the return journey to stony Flåm Beach: the location of the wooden huts belonging to the kayak company, Njord.

Photo 3. The tandem sea kayaks do require some cooperation!

Photo 3. The tandem sea kayaks do require some cooperation!

The tandem sea kayaks are the perfect vehicle to explore the fjords. Silent and unobtrusive your impact is minimal. From this platform you experience the immenseness of the adjacent cliff faces as your miniscule kayak gently bobs in the pristine water. From your close proximity to the bordering mountains the roar of nearby waterfalls are heard crisply. Shy porpoises are not intimidated by the fibreglass hull and curiously come closer to investigate: to share their world with you. It is as if you were part of their natural habitat. This unity and peace you feel with nature are to be savoured and when you are caught on a crowded London tube remember there is an escape. Even if it is just for the weekend.

~ Jesse Gerwien

Flam, Aurlandsfjord, Norway

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Arrived in Bergen on 4 September 2015 (see post ‘A Rainy Afternoon In Bergen, The Gateway To The Fjords’ for more information).

Travelled to Flåm from Bergen on 5 September 2015 (see post ‘A Different Kind Of Seaside Holiday’ for more information).

Kayak Tour Package: ‘Fjord Paddle: 10.00 A.M.’ with Njord Sea Kayak and Wilderness Adventure Day Tours, Flåm Beach (7 minute walk from rail station), Pb 65, 5743 Flåm, Norway. Fjord Paddle is a 3 hour tour and includes 30 minute instruction on Flåm Beach. Tour concludes at 1.00 P.M. Luggage can be stored in the boathouse for the duration of the tour. Waterproof, sealed bags of all sizes are provided to carry any electronic equipment like cameras. Tour is suitable for young children over 5 and no experience is required. Only place in Flåm that hires out kayaks and conducts tours. For more information refer to their webpage, http://www.njord.as/

Total cost for 2 people: 2 x 600 = 1200 NOK (GBP 92).

Note Njord is a Norse God for the sea and sea faring.

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