Looking for warm sunshine, sandy beaches, ubiquitous blue skies, a lounge chair, and a travel itinerary set in stone? This might not be the trip for you.
The Norwegian islands above the Arctic Circle reflect perpetual change and variety. They demand your attention—physically, mentally, and emotionally. Open-minded travelers willing to put in a little effort will enjoy the unpredictability of this mystical place: golden moments when the clouds break and light beams down on the dramatic landscape below; impromptu laughter shared by former strangers now forever linked by common memories; horizons lengthened through the discovery of new cultures, ideas, cuisines, and lifestyles; vistas that take your breath, slow the world, and arouse introspection. It’s all on WT’s Hiking Norway’s Lofoten Islands and Beyond adventure.
My partner and I love seeing what is around the next corner, especially when it includes striking landscapes, engaging activities, and interesting people. When our long-time traveling companions suggested a trip to the Lofoten Islands some months ago, we couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. What’s not to like? For us, the trip represented a fresh destination, both geographically and latitudinally (we were heading above the Arctic Circle, after all!). We would spend nine days sharing adventures with our pals and making new friends too. Past experience indicated Wilderness Travel would ensure worthy guides and a compelling itinerary. Let’s go!
During our trip, we enjoyed sunshine, rain, wind, clouds, sleet, and more sunshine. In fact, sometimes we enjoyed that within an hour! Being in the far north close to the summer solstice meant that the sun appeared in unusual places to us southerners, but never left the sky altogether. The relentless change in atmospheric conditions created fascinating, moody skyscapes in constant flux.
Destination viewpoints were on the money! Our eyes feasted on knife-edged ridges reigning thousands of feet above rich, blue fjords. Five of the seven hikes in the itinerary went without a hitch and two were shortened by weather or canceled due to ferry schedules. Again, some flexibility is required. Even the guides can’t control the weather or national bureaucracies and decisions have to be made based on the facts and circumstances at the time. In short, we weren’t shortchanged on scenery. The rugged seascapes are firmly etched in our memories.
By Wilderness Travel standards, hiking was moderate in length and elevation gain. Some trails had stable, firm footing and a clear path, while others were less structured. In those latter cases, due care was needed to avoid slippery areas and unstable rocks. A couple of the hikes had optional scrambles to even better vistas. We thought they were all worth the effort.
Extreme northern latitudes require hardy species to weather the cold temperatures, wind, and exposure. Focusing away from the grand vistas often proffered glimpses of colorful small plants eking out a hardscrabble existence and birds of many shapes and sizes, deftly soaring on brisk breezes or fiercely protecting their summer nests.
Between our trail outings, we enjoyed comfortable lodging and excellent food. Non-hiking excursions included kayaking among the picturesque islands in Senja and visiting a Sami reindeer farm and the Lofotr Viking Museum, both fascinating opportunities to learn about earlier generations, food practices, and culture.
Our trip leaders took care to balance the itinerary and make decisions based on changing conditions and interests. We were proud to share our adventure with Naoise and Leila, and to benefit from their guidance and tutelage.
We returned from Norway with our minds full of striking imagery and newly discovered notions about thriving in tough conditions, and the infinite possibilities and value of lifestyles other than our own. Thanks to all of the members of the Wilderness Travel team who made this experience possible.
—Text and photos by four-time WT adventurer Kit Johnson, Hiking Norway’s Lofoten Islands and Beyond.