Hello, and welcome to my in-depth review of my 3,5-week road trip across Norway and northern Lapland. This post is going to be different than my regular monthly updates, as I want to focus mostly on what I did every single day and what beautiful things I and my girlfriend got to see. I will still reflect on how this entire trip impacted my happiness but will leave it to the very end of this article. This post is going to be filled with the most beautiful places and areas the Scandinavian countries have to offer. So without further ado, here is my day-to-day review of the most epic road trip across Norway in September 2017!
Wait! Not yet. I first have to seriously warn you.
Reading this post will put you at a certain risk. I will show you some of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, and I don't know whether you'll be able to handle it. There is a likely - near certain - chance that you will become obsessed with the Scandinavian countries after reading this post. You WILL want to visit the countries after you've scrolled through this article. You WILL be impressed by the sheer beauty of these countries.
If you are currently planning your road trip to Norway, then that's GREAT. Look no further. Because this article will show you ALL the places I and my girlfriend have been to, from the southernmost point right across to the cold Arctic Circle. Oh, and you should brace yourself since this post will be LONG. Epic, but long...
You're still here...? Great, let's get started on this adventure then!
Day 1 - Traveling from the Netherlands to Kristiansand by taking the ferry at Hirtshals, Denmark
What was our plan? My girlfriend and I were to start in the Netherlands and had 3,5 weeks to reach the airport of Tromsø, Norway. We had booked our return tickets on the 3rd of October.
My parents would fly to Tromsø on the 2nd of October. We were going to drive their car all the way up North, hand the keys over on the 2nd of October and fly back to the Netherlands. It was then up to my parents to make their way back to the Netherlands. It was a pretty cool plan, which allowed us to see the most of these countries within a relatively short time.
So we start on day 1. The day we left the Netherlands and had to reach the ferry from Hirtshals (Denmark) to Kristiansand (Norway).
We left early in the morning on Saturday the 9th of September. The car was jam-packed to the brim with our clothes, my parents' clothes, our camping gear, food, you name it! We had everything we needed in order to camp our way up to the Arctic Circle!
YES! We were going off the grid for the most part. Wild camping is allowed in the Scandinavian countries, as long as you don't leave any shit behind. I had dreamed of this trip for a long time and always imagined myself waking up in a beautiful forest, on the edge of a calm lake or fjord. It was going to be epic.
Anyway, we first had to actually reach Norway! So the entire first day was spent inside the car. We drove about 1.000 kilometers to the ferry in Denmark. It was constantly raining during this drive, which made us quite nervous.
We wanted to camp as much as we could, but that would only be possible if the weather allowed us to. September is THE RAINIEST MONTH in the fjordlands of Norway. The odds were against us!
When we reached the ferry, it finally stopped raining. It gave us hope. Maybe we had left the rain behind?
Day 2 - Driving from south to west Norway, our first night wild camping
We spent our first night in a nice little hostel in Lyngdal, where we arrived the night before in the dark. It was nice to have a solid roof over our head and a warm bed and we used the occasion to fully charge our phones and power banks.
We were going to head to the many fjords in the South of Norway.
The roads in Norway were an absolute JOY to drive on. And even better: it didn't rain!
We were really excited about all the things we were going to see. This was also going to be our first night of camping in the wild.
We decided to not enter Stavanger because we wanted to see as much of the beautiful nature of Norway. We also wanted to find a good place to camp in the open, which we did around noon!
You see, wild camping in Norway is only allowed when you are not within at least 150 meters from the nearest inhabited house or cabin. The place also needed to be accessible to our car, as it contained literally ALL our possessions. So it was actually quite challenging to find a place that matched the criteria.
Luckily, we found a nice little spot off the roads and used the remainder of the day to explore the area! We found a trail that led up to a nice lookout over the Gitlandsåsen area which we really enjoyed!
We headed back to our camping site to set things up. We had bought a really convenient pop-up tent. It literally took me no more than 1 minute to set it up. After just 15 minutes, we had created our very own "hotel" in the middle of nowhere.
We had ramen noodles that evening for dinner, freshly prepared on our little portable camping stove.
Day 2: success!
Day 3 - Driving to the Lysefjord and hiking Pulpit Rock
After a PERFECT night in our tent, we were more-than-ready for another adventurous day. On day 3 of our trip, we wanted to hike our way to the Pulpit Rock: a massive vertical cliff sitting on the edge of the Lysefjord.
The forecast was decent enough. It would rain a little here and there, but it would stay dry for the most part. Which was OKAY for us! We didn't have the time to wait for a perfectly sunny day since we had a plane to catch (our plane would leave in 22 days!)
We did some shopping at a food store before heading to the Pulpit Rock. We needed to stack up on food and calories! Our options were pretty limited since we only had a small portable stove to cook with. But we managed to do quite well. We bought a shitload of sausages, pancakes, eggs, soup, noodles, and bread, enough to last us for a couple of days.
The weather was REALLY interesting at the Lysefjord, as it could change in the blink of an eye. When we parked our car at the foot of the hike, there was not a single cloud in the sky.
To say that my girlfriend and I were thrilled would be a MASSIVE understatement. We were super excited to get to the top of this Pulpit Rock while the sun was out. "Think of the wonderful pictures we can take up there?!?!"
The hike took us about 1,5 hours and was really nice. As we climbed to a higher altitude, the forests slowly made way for rocks and grasslands. It was a beautiful hike and we were filled with joy.
What didn't exactly fill us with joy was the sudden change in weather as we climbed our way up. It started RAINING!
When we reached the top of Pulpit Rock, it looked like we were in the middle of a never-ending rain cloud. It was super windy, cold and wet, which was a bit of a let-down.
Nonetheless, it was an AMAZING experience to sit on the edge of this huge cliff. I'll be honest, my knees were a little shaky when I looked down the massive 600-meter drop but the adrenaline rush was awesome. Sure, the weather was bad, but it didn't keep me from smiling from ear to ear when I looked at the sheer size of the Pulpit Rock.
Ironically, the weather changed as soon as we were back to our parked car... It didn't rain for the rest of the day, which was nice of course because we needed to find another place to camp for the night!
And boy, did we find a place to camp.
We found a nice grassy area near Josenfjorden, right next to the water. Our tent might not have exactly been 150 meters away from the cabins, but the people that were there didn't mind at all! It was a perfect camping site.
There was even a rainbow for a short moment. A freaking rainbow, guys! How cool is that?! It was the stuff I had dreamed about when planning this trip.
We enjoyed a couple of pancakes before calling it a day. This was a seriously epic day, of which many more followed in the next couple of weeks.
Day 4 - Crossing the many waterfalls in the Western Fjordlands up to Tyssedal
After another perfect night under the stars, we were going to cover a lot of ground on our 4th day. The weather forecast was merciless: constant rain for the entire day. My girlfriend and I decided to focus on driving to the North, only stopping for short breaks.
What we didn't know, however, was that this section in Norway is filled with literally HUNDREDS of waterfalls. They ranged from small to big (but mostly big) and were amazing to witness. It might have been raining the entire day, but it was still amazing to stop every now and then to head out to the base of these giant waterfalls. We especially marveled at the Låtefossen Waterfall, a raging amount of water that was only bigger due to the constant rain.
After driving for a couple of hours, we decided to continue to Tyssedal, a small and old industrial port town. We booked a small apartment for the night, for two reasons:
- The rain wouldn't stop before nightfall, and we didn't feel like setting up camp (if we'd even be able to find a good spot) in the pouring rain.
- We decided we were going to do the 10-hour hike to the Trolltunga the day after!
The Trolltunga hike was easily going to be a highlight of the trip. The weather forecast was GOOD (no rain), and the paths would still be open to regular tourists. We were going to leave early the next morning, as the hike would take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours.
We enjoyed a nice warm meal stuffed with calories before calling it a night.
Day 5 - Spectacular Trolltunga hike
Day 5 was special. It was one of the best days of our trip.
We woke up VERY early, in order to drive up to the carpark that was closest to the start of the Trolltunga trail. It was still dark when we started hiking. After climbing for about an hour, it started getting light. We saw a lot of clouds above our head and hoped the weather would remain nice and dry.
Now, the Trolltunga hike is quite special. Not only is the hike really LONG (14 km to the end-point), it's also nearly impossible to predict the weather. In these mountains, the weather can change within the blink of an eye. My girlfriend and I had experienced it when hiking the Pulpit Rock.
I filled my backpack to the brim with enough food and water, and my girlfriend and I had multiple layers of clothing on. We felt ready to take on this monster hike!
After two hours of steady climbing, we reached the top of the valley which offered us the most spectacular view ever. It felt surreal to hike in this area, and had to stop every couple of minutes to just grasp the magnitude of what we were seeing.
It was especially magical when the sun decided to break through the dense layer of clouds. The rays of sunshine on the black face of the mountains were absolutely breathtaking. My girlfriend and I simply sat down and took a deep breath to take it all in. We thought we were in a dreamland.
The Trolltunga was located on the other side of this valley, so we still had a long way to go! Luckily, the weather stayed the same. We felt really lucky, as it never started to rain. In fact, the sun would occasionally break through again, which resulted in more spectacular views.
We arrived at the Trolltunga at around 12:00, and there were only a handful of other people there.
My girlfriend and I were exhausted from the hike, but it didn't bother us. We were so happy to be in this wonderful place together. The combination of the low-hanging clouds, the water below, the size of the drop and the black rocks created a very mystical vibe. We both posed on the tip of the Trolltunga and made a BOATLOAD of pictures together. These pictures sadly do NOT justify the beauty of it all. You really have to visit the place in order to fully appreciate it.
Anyway, the Trolltunga hike was spectacular, and one of the most breathtaking moments of my life. This was the moment I officially declared my love for Norway.
The way back down to the car park was pretty exhausting, and we were both really tired when we made it back.
We still had to find a place to camp before it got dark. We decided to continue our drive North, and if we'd come across a nice place to camp, we would call it a day.
Luckily for us, we found that place pretty fast!
We pitched our tent on the edge of another beautiful lake, near some abandoned fishing cabins. Another perfect location! We felt like we were getting the hang of this whole wild camping idea. More importantly, we were quite lucky with the weather! The forecast told us that the next couple of days were going to be SUNNY!
We went to bed under a clear sky full of stars (but no northern lights yet!)
Day 6 - Traversing the beautiful Fjordlands and Aurlandsfjellet by car
We wanted to continue our way up North on day 6 of our road trip. We felt like we already covered a lot of ground, but in reality we were still in the South of Norway.
When we woke up, my girlfriend and I were treated to a spectacular view. The sun was shining on the lake in front of our tent and it felt like all the clouds evaporated in front of us. This is why my girlfriend and I decided to go camping. we would NEVER wake up like this if we had opted for a hotel. To us, this was the richest experience of our Norway trip: to go to bed and wake up in the beautiful nature.
It was the start of a beautiful sunny day.
As we continued to drive North, we passed some amazing sights. The weather was PERFECT, which resulted in a couple of breathtaking stops. What about this perfect mirror on one of the many lakes we passed?!
We also passed a couple of dozen waterfalls again. And we made sure to stop at every single one of them. How do you like the Skjervsfossen Waterfall? 🙂
The water combined with the sun created a beautiful rainbow, which sometimes seemed to complete a whole 360 degrees loop right in front of us! Color me impressed!
Driving in Norway was also amazing. We passed multiple fjords and straits every day, which was always a pleasant experience. The network of ferries in Norway is very well arranged.
While we waited for one of these ferries to show up near the Sognefjorden, I glimpsed something in the corner of my eyes. Was it true? Is it possible?!
They were DOLPHINS.
My girlfriend didn't believe me at first. No way, she said. But then they showed up again. We were both staring at these dolphins with our jaws on the floor. Nobody told us there would be dolphins in Norway?!!? We watched in awe as multiple pods of dolphins swam by.
I believe this was the moment my girlfriend officially declared her love for Norway as well.
We continued our way further North, to the beautiful Stegastein lookout. We had the possibility to cut our route short by traveling through a LONG tunnel underneath the mountains, but we choose to cross the deserted mountain pass itself.
This mountain pass - called the Bjorgavegen Fv 243 - took us across the Aurlandsfjellet, a rough and deserted plain of rocks, snow and boulders. We were pretty much alone on this road, which made it really special.
After crossing even more ferries, fjords and mountains, we eventually found another PERFECT camping spot. It was a beautiful location, next to another quiet lake. The sun was still out, so we used this opportunity to cook some killer pancakes.
We felt like true adventurers. We didn't have much, but we sure had all we needed. And more importantly, we had EACH OTHER.
These pancakes were delicious, and we sat outside until well after the sun had set. It was the ending to another PERFECT day in paradise!
(We obviously made sure to clean up after our stay. We carried a garbage bag with us in the car at all times!)
Day 7 - Hiking at the Nigardsbreen Glacier
For our seventh day, we decided to take a small detour to the Nigardsbreen Glacier. The weather was still in our favor, so we wanted to enjoy it while we still could. We continued our way North and crossed a lot of beautiful sights again.
The detour itself was already really nice. We entered the long and beautiful valley and headed towards the glacier.
We were able to park our car quite close to the Glacier. After an hour of hiking, we were VERY close to the face of this enormous wall of ice. It was really spectacular to see and hung around for an hour or so before going back to the car.
As we headed back, we heard a big cracking noise coming from the glacier. As we turned around, we saw a gigantic block of ice - about the size of a minivan - break off the face of the glacier. This resulted in thousands of floating shattered ice crystals, which passed us in the stream of water as we walked back to the car.
It's sad to imagine that this glacier will continue to shrink, and maybe disappear altogether as a result of the climate change. My girlfriend and I felt lucky to have witnessed this beautiful piece of nature before it was too late.
Anyway, we continued our way North and eventually found another perfectly hidden camping spot off the roads. This spot was not located on a lake, but in the middle of a forested area. These trees stopped the wind from reaching our tent, and actually kept us comfortably warm at night! We were also accompanied by a happy little squirrel, which was a nice addition to our camping experience in the wild nature!
As we slowly made our way to the North of Norway, we continued to look out for the Aurora Borealis at night.
My girlfriend and I dreamed of seeing the northern lights, and we were NOT going to miss them when they showed up. I had a total of 3 apps installed on my phone that would alert me whenever there was a possibility of seeing them. I also set multiple alarms at night, to just check the status on these northern lights.
My girlfriend and I had to wait a little longer though, as we didn't see them this night. Our patience was tested, but we were okay with it. We still had a LONG way to go.
Day 8 - Traversing the Trollstigen and the Geiranger Fjord
After another perfect night, we had a lovely breakfast in the forest where we had set up our camp. We wanted to cover a lot of ground again, so took off quite early in the morning.
The weather was pretty good again: no rain, and partially clouded with a bit of sun!
As we continued our way through the country, we passed a dozen of beautiful areas again. And guys, I kid you not: every single corner unveils yet another beautiful view in this country.
For example, we passed a beautiful forest area with a mix of colors I had never seen before. The autumn had kicked in, and the sight of these trees was simply mesmerizing.
We eventually reached the beautiful Geiranger fjord.
While my girlfriend and I planned this entire trip, we had read the most amazing things about the Geiranger fjord. It was apparently a hotspot for tourism, because of the many waterfalls and sheer beauty of the fjord.
It was all true: the Geiranger fjord was beautiful! But we didn't understand exactly why THIS fjord was a tourist hotspot. It was on par with literally any other fjord we had passed by then.
We learned that the beauty of Norway cannot be captured in a single location. The Geiranger fjord is magnificent, yes, but a lot of other places are just as beautiful, if not better!
My girlfriend and I felt lucky that we were able to traverse the country with a car. This way, we'd get to see EVERYTHING.
We eventually reached the Trollstigen: another major Norwegian highlight if you believe the many magazines, Trip Advisors, Lonely Planets and tour operators.
And we had the same feeling: the Trollstigen was really cool! I especially enjoyed the beautiful roads as a young civil engineer! But my girlfriend and I felt like there were countless of other places that were just as awesome.
Again, we felt lucky to be traversing the ENTIRE country with our car (okay, my parents' car).
We eventually found another place to camp for the night, after having looked for about an hour. It was pretty challenging to find a place that would fit our criteria. So we had to settle for a simple field of grass off the side of the road. It worked for us!
The temperatures at night were quite alright. It was certainly cold, but not freezing. My girlfriend and I had prepared quite well for these circumstances. While our tent was rather simple, we made sure to buy GREAT sleeping bags. Even though it was cold outside, we were always warm inside our cozy little tent.
Day 9 - Entering Trøndelag and visiting Trondheim
By day 9, we were finally heading into new territory. We crossed the entire Western province of Norway (Vestlandet) and were heading into the middle part of the country: Trøndelag.
We had been camping for 4 nights in a row, so decided it was time to book a small apartment again.
We tried to stay clean by bringing disposable washcloths with us, but I'll be honest: we were in need of a shower at this point! As we looked on Booking.com, we found a nice little apartment in Trondheim, only a couple of hours away.
We reached the city quite early in the day, and after checking into our small room, we decided to explore some of the city.
This was quite a relaxing day for us. We prepared a nice warm meal for ourselves, and actually watched a movie on Netflix before going to bed! The next couple of days were going to be intense again, so we didn't feel bad for going to bed early!
Day 10 - Traversing the beautiful Kystriksveien
We were now entering a large stretch of Norway that was different to the rest. You see, this entire section is relatively uneventful. And I have to be careful with the word "relatively" here.
The landscape was less extreme when compared to the South of the country, but it was still impressive nonetheless!
We were going to continue our way north via the Ocean Road, also known as the Kystriksveien. Every guide to Norway recommended that we'd take this road North, instead of the quicker highway, and we soon found out why.
We spent the bulk of the next days driving on these beautiful roads. It was really nice to travel like this, as the scenery continued to take our breath around every couple of corners.
We eventually found another quiet and secluded camping place in the middle of the forest and decided to call it a day. The weather was starting to get worse and it started to rain just as we finished our dinner.
Day 11 - Ferry hopping the ocean road and reaching Mo i Rana
The next day, we continued our way up the Kystriksveien.
We had gone to sleep the night before in the rain. My girlfriend and I were really surprised when we were woken up by the SUN!
It was the stuff of my dreams again: waking up in a beautiful forest in the middle of nowhere.
We completely missed the beauty of our camping spot the night before, because of the shitty weather. This eventually turned into a PERFECT morning. We made sure to take our time and enjoy the beauty of our little camping site.
We continued our way up the Kystriksveien, continuously hugging the coastline. The blue emerald waters were beautiful, and the sun kept shining the entire day.
We also had to take the ferry a couple of times. Unfortunately, we underestimated the time it took to wait for these ferries and decided after our 4th ferry that we'd had enough. We were going to start looking for another camping site.
This was much harder than it sounded, as we couldn't find an area that matched our criteria. All of the roads we entered were fruitless and turned out to be private land, not level or inaccessible by car.
Our process was always the same:
We entered small little roads that didn't have any mailboxes or signs. This would indicate that it was likely not owned by a person.
We then continued until we either found a nice place to pitch our tent, or had to turn around because of a dead end.
After our XXth try, we had to turn around again due to a dead end. Quickly after starting my turn, the wheels of the car sank in the topsoil within an instance. FUCK. We were stuck in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE.
So I put on my runners and decided to just run to the nearest farm. My girlfriend was on guard duty and stayed with the car. After a mile or so, I found a couple of farms and hit the figurative jackpot: a nice local with a good heart and a tractor!
He spoke perfect English (like all Norwegians that we met) and agreed to help us out. I offered him one of the beers we brought with us, but he kindly refused. I was really amazed by his willingness to help us out. That guy literally saved us that day.
Trust in humanity: RESTORED!
When we were on our way again, we decided to just continue until the city of Mo i Rana and book an apartment there. We both agreed that we had our fair share of stress for that day.
Day 12 - Entering the Arctic Circle and hiking in Storjord Saltfjellet - Svartisen National Park
After having a good sleep and shower, it was great to hit the roads again. The weather was sunny, which was great but it was also super windy. We reached a huge milestone on this day, as we entered the Arctic Circle! My girlfriend and I had never been this far North, so it was nice to share this milestone together.
We drove a fair bit until we reached the Saltfjellet - Svartisen National Park, a beautiful forest park with lots of hiking possibilities. We got there quite early, so had plenty of time to explore the surroundings!
But we first had a great lunch! Check out this beautiful omelet! 🙂
We picked a nice trail that would take us to a lookout point, and just started hiking. The sun was out, and the wind did not bother us as we were covered by the trees! It was a perfect day.
As the sun got down, we found THE MOST AMAZING camping spot in the entire world.
I have said it before: I used to dream of camping in the forest near a stream of water, with nothing but the nature surrounding us.
This was it, guys! I've praised our previous camping spots before, but this one easily takes the cake. It was truly amazing to camp here. I couldn't have dreamed of a better place, really!
My girlfriend came up with the idea to build a fire. I was skeptical at first since I didn't think we'd be able to find any dry wood. But we actually managed preeeetty well.
We even warmed up a nice can of soup on our little fire, which only completed the whole outdoorsy experience. We stayed up as late as possible, to enjoy the sunset and the bright night sky as the fire slowly died.
As usual, I set multiple alarms that night, hoping I'd wake up with the Aurora Borealis dancing above our tent. But no luck. Maybe we weren't going to see the northern lights at all? We had to stay patient!
Day 13 - Taking the ferry from Bodø to Moskenes (first Northern Light sighting)
Day 13 of our road trip was mostly spent on the road (and on the water!) We had booked our ferry ticket from Bodø to Moskenes, one of the Lofoten islands.
We slowly made our way into Bodø after visiting the Saltstraumen maelstrom. We also refilled our car with groceries, in order to camp for a couple of nights again!
We departed from Bodø to Moskenes at 16:00 in the afternoon, and arrived in Moskenes at 20:00. When we arrived, it was already dark! We were hoping to find a decent little camping spot, just like we always had, but it was nearly impossible. Not only was it dark, the Lofoten islands are completely different than the mainland of Norway. The number of level surfaces on Moskenes that were not privately owned was virtually ZERO.
Therefore, we gave up and booked a pitch at the Moskenes camping ground. We still wanted to sleep under the stars, so decided to just pay for a camping as opposed to booking an apartment.
This turned out to be one of the best decisions of the entire road trip.
When we were done showering and pitched our tent, my girlfriend and I laid in our tent looking at the sky.
Then suddenly, out of nowhere, there appeared a weird looking light. I first thought it was a cloud, as it moved really slowly and didn't seem to emit any light.
But we kept track of that cloud, and over time it grew. Could it be...? Could it be a northern light?
We didn't know, but we started to get more excited. Was this finally happening?!?!
After another minute it was totally clear. We were watching the AURORA BOREALIS evolve right in front of us. What started as a small cloud, slowly turned into a magical river of light that slowly moved across the night sky.
Guys, this was a surreal experience. My girlfriend and I couldn't believe what we were seeing. We cracked open one of the beers that we specifically packed for this occasion, and cheered to a successful trip. It was a dream come true. We were witnessing the Aurora Borealis, and it was everything I had hoped it would be, AND THEN SOME.
I tried to capture it with my smartphone, using a tripod and the biggest long-exposure setting I could find and was pretty impressed with the pictures I managed to take! Unfortunately, the Aurora Borealis disappeared after about 45 minutes and it never came back.
Our show had ended. We were filled with joy and had a wonderful night knowing that this trip was already the best thing we had ever experienced together.
Day 14 - Driving through Moskenes and hiking Kvalvika Beach
Our first full day on the Lofoten island of Moskenes was amazing. We were looking to explore as much of the islands as possible and decided to visit the Kvalvika beach.
Kvalvika beach is reached by a pretty steep hike, so we had a different strategy for this day. We would find a camping site BEFORE actually starting this hike. Luckily, it was much easier to find a nice place to camp during the day, so we marked it on our map and made our way to the start of the trail!
And guys, we were again SO lucky with the weather. It was mid-September already, and we were enjoying so. much. sun! The weather forecast was beautiful, which made us both really happy. The Lofoten islands were amazing, and the hike down to the white sandy Kvalvika beach was really spectacular.
After the hike, we made our way back to our camping spot and set up our camp. After a nice and humble outdoor dinner (simple pre-cooked pasta bolognese), we decided to build a fire again. And so we were off to enjoy another great night under the stars.
We were almost getting used to the life of troubadours. At night, we mostly enjoyed a game of Yahtzee, read a book or just watched the stars. Our life on the road was simple but beautiful!
Day 15 - Traversing Vestvågøy, Nusfjord and hiking Uttakleiv Beach
After yet another beautiful morning, we drove to the second island of Lofoten: Vestvågøy. We did some much-needed grocery shopping in Ballstad, after which we headed to Haukland Beach.
We had read about the Haukland Beach online, and it was supposedly a public beach with great camping facilities. And they were even FREE. After arriving, we knew that the internet was right: this place was perfect for us to pitch our tent.
But we first decided we wanted to climb the Mannen mountain, which was right next to the beach. The weather was great again: no rain, a little cloudy and decent temperatures! We were very lucky to have this weather in mid-September!
After a short - but steep - climb of 1,5 hours we reached the top of the mountain. This resulted in yet another magical view.
The view allowed us to see a big part of the Moskenes Island, the one we had explored the day before! It was quite windy at the top, so we couldn't stay long. It was alright, though, since we still needed to pitch our tent and have a warm dinner.
After some lovely sausages - cooked on our little camping stove - we called it a day and decided to just sit back and enjoy the beauty of this place. We were treated to an AMAZING sunset. Our tent was pitched just a couple of meters from the ocean, so the constant sounds of the little waves were super relaxing.
We did it! We had found another PERFECT place to camp.
And guys, these pictures do NOT do the place justice. It was surreal to camp in this place. I could have never imagined a place this perfect prior to this trip.
Oh, and something funny happened that night!
We were treated to our second round of Aurora Borealis!
It was similar to what we had seen on our first night. What first looked like a cloud slowly transformed into this beautiful green river of light. Unfortunately, it was really cloudy that night, so our view was blocked quite a lot. The clouds eventually covered the entire sky, which sucked because we could see bits and pieces of the northern light pass through the cracks.
We didn't complain though, as we were still happy to have seen a part of the show. And we had plenty of time left on our journey. We were confident this would not be the last time we got to see the lights.
Day 16 - Hiking Glomtinden and camping on Rorvikstranda
Waking up on the beach was as good as it gets. It was a beautiful start to a great day. We packed our stuff and left the Haukland Beach behind. We continued our way to the next island, where another cool hike would await us.
We had found this hike via a great hiking website of Lofoten. It was a rather short and easy hike to the top of the Glomtinden mountain. It took us about 4 hours to make the return trip, and the view from the top was - you guessed it - spectacular again.
On our way across the islands, we passed a beautiful small beach called Rorvikstranda. It was another great place for us to set up camp.
We decided we wanted to have something special to eat on this day. We had already pitched our tent, and we still had a little time on our hands. So we drove to Svolvær and had dinner in a great pizza restaurant - creatively named Peppes Pizza! After having camped so much the last couple of days, it was nice to not have to cook for once.
We finished our pizzas in no-time, after which we quickly made our way back to our tent in order to catch another beautiful sunset. We built another bonfire and eagerly waited outside our tent for another glimpse of the northern lights, but it never came. After the fire died, we called it a night and were off to bed.
Day 17 - To Andøya and Stave
On day 17 of our mega epic - and by this time hugely successful - road trip, we made our way to the island of Andøya. We had booked a whale watching tour on the next day, so we needed to get as close to Andenes as possible. This meant we had to spend a lot of time in the car. We decided to take the western ocean road across the island, and it was another great decision.
The long journey to Stave - where we found another place to camp - was wonderful. We passed beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, steep cliffs and the greenest fields of grass. Sure, we drove for about 6 hours this day, but every minute of this drive was wonderful.
And we were still very lucky with the weather! The sky was clear and the sun did its very best to keep us warm.
Before setting up camp near the beach at Stave, we decided to climb yet another one of the mountains. After 45 minutes of steep climbing, we were treated with another magnificent view. These views never got boring. Every single one of them took our breath away.
Once we got back down, it didn't take long before we had set up our camp again. We had mastered our routine: pitch the tent, inflate our mattress, get the sheets, pillows and sleeping bags and throw 'em in the tent, grab our little camping stools and table and start cooking!
What was on the menu?
Only the greatest pancakes ever?!
It was another fantastic day, and it was great to end it inside our small but warm tent. We went to bed with the constant sound of the crashing waves, which had an almost hypnotising effect on me. I slept like a baby that night, even though it was getting pretty cold at night!
Day 18 - Whale watching tour Andenes
We left early the next day, in order to get to Andenes. We had booked a whale watching tour with a great crew in the port of Andenes, and we had to be there at 10:00.
After an interesting tour of the great museum, we were allowed to board the boat that was going to look out for the mighty sperm whale. We had just learned - in the museum - that these mammals get up to 12 meters long. Holy shit. I had never seen a creature THAT big.
Our tour lasted about 4 hours, in which the crew managed to spot 2 sperm whales. It was spectacular to see these huuuuge animals from this close, and I was happy to cross this off my list. Whale watching? CHECK. 🙂
On our way back to the port, we witnessed another marvelous sunset. It was already getting dark when we got back on dry land, so we decided it was time to sleep in another apartment again.
We found the most perfect lodge in the Kvalnesbrygga camping. The guy who owned the place was extremely friendly and showed us his lodge with a lot of pride. After 5 nights of camping in the open, we felt like we could definitely use the luxury of a bathroom!
I stayed up extra late in anticipation of the northern lights again but had no luck.
That all changed the next day, though!
Day 19 - From Andøya to Langstranda (Northern light show!)
We had less than a week remaining on our road trip, and we still wanted to do a LOT. So we decided that we were going to cover a LOT of ground on day 19. We made our way back to the mainland of Norway, passed the town of Narvik. We eventually passed another nice beach called Langstranda, and decided this would be our camping ground.
It was a beautiful location on the edge of another fjord. After having a simple dinner - sausages on a bun - we were treated to yet another fantastic sunset.
We checked the weather forecast and found out it was going to freeze this night. Holy cow?! We didn't know if we'd be ready for the cold, but I guess we had no choice. We decided to build another fire again, to keep us busy and warm for the time being.
When the sun was gone and the darkness set, we headed inside our tent to get warm and comfortable. Then suddenly, I got a notification from my smartphone: look outside and you might see the northern lights!
I peeked outside through the opening of our tent, and yes: there it was! It was a small beam of light, that was slightly smaller than the ones we had seen before. We watched it move across the sky for about 15 minutes before it disappeared. It was COLD outside, so we quickly got back into our tent and continued our game of Yahtzee.
After my girlfriend threw YET ANOTHER large street, I was done with the game. I had my ass kicked too much for one night. I decided to have one more peak outside, before going to bed.
And holy shit, you guys. What I saw gave me goosebumps.
The sky was FILLED with the most beautiful green lights. This was it. This was the kind of thing I had heard so much about, the lights that you see in the time-lapses on YouTube. My girlfriend and I were freaking out as we danced around in complete joy outside our tent.
The lights were constantly shifting shapes, and we just sat there in awe trying to grasp what exactly we were seeing. Then, after about 30 minutes, the lights started to move more rapidly. They were previously just crawling the sky, moving at a slow and steady pace. But now, they started dancing and morphing into all kinds of shapes.
It was something I couldn't believe, and it was happening right in front of me (well, above of me, you get the idea). The colours of the light also started to change. The green made room for little orbs of orange and blue light. And they continued to race across the sky like it was some kind of magic.
It was easily the most bizarre thing I had ever witnessed. We were treated to a fantastic northern lights show, and it was something that I will NEVER forget. My girlfriend and I were smiling from ear to ear after it was finished. We were cold as ice but didn't care. We had just witnessed something truly magical. There were no words to describe what we had just seen.
We decided then and there: this road trip was the best thing we had ever done together.
By the way, I captured the northern lights on my smartphone with a basic tripod and the longest exposure option. Although I think I got some decent results from this setup, I really want to be better prepared for the next chance I get. This is why I have saved this awesome astrophotography for beginner guide. My next pictures of the northern lights will be MUCH better!
Day 20 - Driving from Norway to Kiruna, Sweden
We both woke up the next day feeling slightly less happy. Our smile had vanished and we were feeling quite shaky. It was freezing when we woke up, and we had a pretty rough night because of the cold. I also started to feel a little ill.
It was pretty clear: the weather got too cold for us to continue camping. We had made it pretty far, we were deep inside the Arctic Circle, but our camping days were over. We decided to book lodges and hostels from now on, our first one being in Kiruna, a major city in the north of Sweden!
We spent a couple of hours driving and entered pretty nasty weather. Not only was it cold, it was also very clouded, rainy and misty. I was looking forward to passing the Lappish Gate, but it was invisible because of the thick clouds.
We decided to just head straight to Kiruna and check into our hostel. You can imagine the smile on our faces when the lady at the check-in told us we were free to use their sauna. 🙂
We had a bit of a day off. I was feeling ill anyway, so it was a nice opportunity for us to rest and prepare for the last leg of our journey.
Day 21 - Visiting husky farms in Sweden
On day 21, we had planned an entire day with the husky dogs in Lapland. It was going to be a fantastic day, as we were going to ride our very own cart with these dogs.
I love dogs. I truly think they are amazing animals and love to get close them. But I'm nothing compared to my girlfriend. If you think YOU love dogs, then you haven't met my girlfriend. From the very moment we left the Netherlands, she had been counting down the days till she would get to spend a day with the dogs.
We booked a tour with Husky Tours Lapland, which was a great experience. They had us get familiar with the dogs, gear them up and take them out for a drive through the beautiful Swedish forests. It was super cool to ride these carts and to command the dogs. And they loved every single moment of it as well.
When our tour had ended, it was only 14:30 or something, so we still had quite a bit of time to hang around for a bit.
We were in for a treat. Imagine the look on my girlfriend's face when they allowed us to pet the husky puppies! They had 3 nests of puppies, and we were allowed to see them all.
It was also great to learn about the life on these husky farms. These people truly love dogs, and the dogs seem to like it as well. They are beautiful animals, and we had a blast during our time with these guys.
We still had to find a place to stay, though. And that was when we found the Snowtrail Dogcamp Lodge on Booking.com. This place was quite a bit off our route, but the description was just too good to neglect.
The Lodge was super remote and off the grid, and also had dozens of Alaskan huskies. The buildings itself were beautiful and made completely out of wood.
The electricity for the lodge was provided by a small generator which was turned off at 21:00. It was pitch black and quiet, and the lodge was a terrific place to spend a night in. Every now and then, the Alaskan Huskies started howling which would result in a strangely beautiful wall of sound.
It was a special place and a beautiful night.
Day 22 - From Sweden to Ounasloma Hetta Lodge in Finland
We had only a couple of days left on our epic road trip, so we had to cover a lot of ground again. We decided to head into Finland as we found a beautiful lodge to stay in.
It was great to drive through the beautiful forests in Sweden and Finland. Even better, our lodge for the night was located in one of them! We arrived at the beautiful Ounasloma Hetta Lodge late in the afternoon and decided to just relax for the remainder of the day.
Our lodge was awesome. The price was REALLY cheap, especially when considering that the lodge even came with a SAUNA. My girlfriend and I made full use of this feature and had a very relaxing evening.
The sky was completely covered with clouds that night, so unfortunately, there would be no northern lights show for us. It would have made the night perfect! Although, we were in no position to complain! 🙂
Day 23 - From Hetta to the tip of Finland
We continued driving our way to the North of Finland, by continuously hugging the border with Sweden. We found a nice little nature reserve in the area of Saivaara Leinonen, which allowed us to put on our hiking boots again.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous on this day. The landscape was completely different than anything we had seen, which was impressive as we had seen a LOT at this point.
The area was extremely quiet and peaceful. As far as we knew, we were the only persons there. After climbing a small hill, we decided to build a little stoneman - a tower of stones. We had never been this far North, but we both knew we would someday return together. And when that day comes, we will visit the same place, hoping our little stoneman will still be standing.
After hiking for about 2 hours, we decided to call it quits and head to our next lodge.
Our lodge was another FANTASTIC place to relax. We enjoyed another beautiful sunset from our balcony and spent the night playing games by the fireplace before we went to bed.
Day 24 - The Lyngenfjord and Tromsø, Norway
This was the final full day of our trip. We wanted to make the most of it, so headed out early in the morning to drive to the Lyngenfjord.
Deep inside the mountains of this Lyngenfjord was the beautiful Gorsa bridge, an aluminum bridge covering a massive crack in the earth. It was extremely windy that day, so the hike itself was pretty cold. Still, the views from the bridge were stunning. After all this time we had been on our trip, we were still impressed with these epic pieces of nature. We couldn't get enough of them.
We eventually decided to head to Tromsø, our final destination of the trip. The road to Tromsø was nothing but spectacular.
We still had some time on our hands when we arrived in Tromsø, as my parents would arrive in the evening. My girlfriend and I decided to buy a ticket for the Fjellheisen, a cable car that flies all the way up one of the mountains next to the city.
It was pretty cold up there, but the views were beautiful nonetheless. It was our last day in Norway, and it was great to end our trip with another BEAUTIFUL sunset. The views over the bay of Tromsø were really amazing.
When we headed down, it was time to go to the airport of Tromsø to pick up my parents. We shared a lodge together for our final night. It was great to see my parents after this epic journey, and we had a LOT to talk about.
Day 25 - Flying back to the Netherlands
This was it. Our final day... After having traveled over 5.000 kilometers, it was time to end it. We had been on this trip for nearly an entire month, but it still felt like we had only left the Netherlands a couple of days ago.
My girlfriend and I have seen some of the most beautiful things of our life. This entire road trip was simply PERFECT, and it could not have gone any better. We had been very lucky with the weather and made it to the end in one piece.
Now it was my parents' turn. They were about to go on their own adventure, by driving all the way back to the Netherlands. And they had a BLAST. It makes me happy to this day: my parents also had an amazing time together. They saw a couple of northern lights shows as well and did much of the same epic stuff my girlfriend and I had done as well!
It had taken us 3,5 weeks to reach Tromsø, the tip of Norway. Now, we were about to enter a plane which took us back to the Netherlands within a couple of hours!
This trip was the BEST adventure I have ever been on. It was everything I had ever dreamed of, AND THEN SOME!
So, that concludes my enormous trip report.
This is quite a different article than what I usually post here on Tracking Happiness. You know, this still is a site about tracking happiness!
So what about it, anyway?
My personal happiness during this beautiful road trip across Scandinavia?
I continued to track my happiness during every single day of this trip, and the below table shows the results.
So my average happiness rating of September was a 7,75.
You'd expect a LOT more, right? After having read everything about this supposedly EPIC road trip? What the hell happened? Why was this not the happiest month of my life?!
We need more info to answer that question.
Therefore, the chart below visualises exactly what my happiness ratings looked like throughout September 2017. I have added a tiny bit of comments here and there again to add some context to this data.
So now you probably see why this month was not the happiest month of my life...
I left for Norway on the 9th of September. And unfortunately, the few days leading up to the 9th were some of the WORST of my life...
I had my wisdom teeth removed at the end of August. The operation went fine, it wasn't painful and the medication took proper care of me.
But a few days later, my wounds started getting infected. It gradually became worse, until I wasn't even able to TALK. I had to get another operation, which was one of THE worst experiences of my life.
This little "episode" had a huge influence on my happiness, and I will cover it in more detail in one of my "Bad days" posts. More on that later!
The table below shows all the happiness factors that influenced my happiness in September 2017.
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This table better shows what this trip did to my happiness. As expected, it was one of the most HAPPIEST PERIODS OF MY LIFE.
When you exclude the bad start of the month, the average happiness rating of September was actually an 8,26! One of the highest I ever recorded!
Let's have a look at all the positive happiness factors!
Positive happiness factors
The chart below shows the positive happiness factors of September 2017.
I probably don't need a lot of words to explain this chart.
This road trip through Scandinavia was such a GREAT period for me and my girlfriend. We had a truly PERFECT time together.
It could have gone a lot worse. We slept in a tent together in pretty challenging circumstances sometimes. Also, we only had each other to entertain ourselves with.
But it went PERFECT. We had a blast together. Sure, we experienced some bumps in the road (for example when our car got stuck in the mud), but we NEVER got into a fight during the trip. This entire road trip solidified the GREAT relationship we have, and we are able to look back on one of the most special experiences we have shared together.
What about the negative happiness factors, then?
Negative happiness factors
The chart below shows all the negative happiness factors of September 2017.
As you might have seen already in the table, most of these negative happiness factors occurred BEFORE this road trip started.
The entire episode of my infected wounds was terrible. There's no other way for me to describe it. I am going to make an entirely separate post about that experience, and what it did to my happiness.
However, there were still a couple of negative happiness factors that had nothing to do with these infected wounds. And most of these were related to a bit of anxiety.
You see, this trip was amazing, but there was a LOT that could go wrong. I had tried to plan everything, but there was only so much I could control.
On a couple of days, I let the things which I couldn't control anyway dominate my mindset. I constantly worried about these potential risks. What if the car breaks down? What if our possessions are stolen? Will my parents get to enjoy this as much as I do? Will the weather stay this good? These thoughts were constantly running through my head, and I let them negatively influence my happiness on a couple of days.
I was most worried about my parents. I wanted them to have a great time and worried about the things that could go wrong for them as well. At the time, I didn't know that I wasn't thinking rationally. There was simply nothing I could do for my parents. It was beyond my influence.
I was extremely happy to hear that they also had a great time. This trip became a great experience for all of us! And we were extremely happy because of that. We had planned this entire road trip as a team, and we pulled it off!
And with that said, I want to end this - rather strange - monthly happiness report! I think this could be considered more as a trip report. Anyway, this entire road trip was PERFECT and it had a great effect on my happiness. It was everything I hoped it would be, and then some. It was going to be difficult to adjust to the normal life again, after having spent so much time on the road. This would become my biggest challenge in October. But more on that later!!! 🙂
I hope these posts give you a general idea of what tracking happiness means to me. Because I'm tracking my happiness ratings and factors every single day, I am fully aware of what I need to do in order to become as happy as I can be. With that said, I hope I can somehow inspire you to also start tracking your happiness. 🙂
If you have any questions about anything, please let me know in the comments below, and I'll be happy to answer you!