Sognefjord – the longest and deepest fjord in Norway.

How would you recover a motorhome from the bottom of a Norwegian fjord 1,300 metres deep? This was the question that briefly ran through my mind whilst we were on the Kaupanger to Gudvangen ferry that runs daily on Sognefjord, Norway’s longest and deepest fjord. Luckily, there was no ferry disaster that day so we never got to find out the answer to that question, but I can confirm that Nærøyfjorden is a UNESCO area for very good reason.

Sognefjord facts and information

  • Sogneford is 127 miles long
  • Maximum depth is 4,291 feet
  • It’s 3,300 feet deep for over 70 miles of its length.
  • During the last ice age the ice was 3,000 metres deep in Sognefjord.

Kaupanger to Gudvangen car ferry

Running from the middle of May to the middle of August the Kaupanger to Gudvangen ferry is special because it is basically a 3 hour fjord cruise that includes Naeroyfjord, a branch of Sognefjord, which has been awarded UNESCO status. The fjord is 17km long and at the narrowest point is only 250 metres wide. The passage through Naeroyfjord is said to be one of the most dramatic fjord trips in Europe and just like Geiranger fjord is a ‘must see’. It passes giant waterfalls, snow-capped mountains and ancient farms that cling to the mountainside.

Kaupanger to Gudvangen ferry.

The Kaupanger to Gudvangen ferry is not cheap to take a 7 metre long motorhome on, but we thought the £146 cost was well worth it as we saved a significant amount in diesel and this was no ordinary Norwegian ferry.

Undredal – A hidden gem

After arriving on the ferry at Gudvangen there is a Shell station with a motorhome service point, that we didn’t use, but there is also a small Joker supermarket (its real name!) which we did use.

Turning left onto the E16 we immediately entered the Gudvangen tunnel, which is Norway’s 2nd longest tunnel at 11.4 km. It’s dead straight and all uphill. If you follow the E16 it takes you to Laerdal but we turned left just after the tunnel onto the road to a lovely place called Undredal. This is located on the fjord and is a small traditional Norwegian village with a population of 100 people and 500 goats! The road to the village was only built in 1988 and until then the only access was by sea or a long trek over a mountain.

Undredal is situated on an arm of Sognefjorden. A beautiful place well worth a visit.

There is a small campsite at Undredal, not featured on any apps. which turned out to be excellent (coordinates N60º 57’4″, E7º 6′ 18″). The location of Undredal is really good, with mountains all around and even a small cafe. Undredal is famous for a very special brown goats cheese that is sweet tasting called Gjetost. It was made by farmers as a method of using the goats milk  because they couldn’t transport it due to lack of roads, and has a sweet caramel taste.

The FV13 to Vikøyri

Just when you think you will be driving on an ordinary road, another high mountain road surprises you with its magnificence. This was the case with the FV13. This stretch of road took us to 1,281 metres over Vikafjell up hairpin bends, past mega frozen lakes and so close to a huge raging waterfall that we could nearly lean out of the window to touch it. We were heading for a campsite on the side of Sognefjord but came across a parking area with such an awesome view that we decided to stay the night. ( Coordinates N61°0’47”, E6°32’34”)

Room with a view. Our free overnight stop at 920 metres high on the FV13

After a night on the campsite, Tveit Camping, where we saw porpoises in the fjord, we caught the ferry from Vangsnes to Dragsvik via Hella and stopped at the historic town of Balestrand where we visited Norway’s National Travel and Tourism Museum, and walked into the historic Kviknes Hotel, owned by the same family since 1877.

Vangsnes to Dragsvik ferry via Hella
Lunch stop at 750 metres on the FV13.

Another free night was spent beside Sognefjord at the Kvamsøy Rasteeplass, Balestrand, where there is room for at least 10 motorhomes. (Coordinates N61°7’51”, E6°28’52”).

After a peaceful night next to the fjord we set off to continue on the FV13, to complete another of Norway’s National Tourist Routes. Our majestic journey on the FV13 was completed with our 4th overnight stay at Haukedalen. (Coordinates N61°24’11”, E6°13’31”) before we reached the town of Førde on the E39. We had spent 4 nights in total on the FV13 and it had turned into a mini epic adventure.

Setting our table for one of our lunch spots.
View of the FV13 from a high viewpoint that we stopped at.
One of the smallest Stave churches in Norway is at Undredal.
Undredal, Norway

Dalsnibba – The best view in Norway?

Fantastic, dramatic, spectacular, authentic or unique? I don’t think that any of these words adequately describe Fjord Norway. Reading through a leaflet this morning about the Geiranger area of Norway a phrase in it said “Norway is not a place. It’s a feeling”. I totally agree. You need to be in Norway to fully appreciate the magnificence of this country. Our journey to Dalsnibba would exceed all expectations.

We had a free camping night last night (Sunday 27th May) at 922 metres altitude, on the E15, next to a partially frozen lake and surrounded by snow clad mountains. (Coordinates N62 0’ 48”, E7 24’7”). It was another incredibly warm 24C and we have not seen rain for 2 weeks now.

Our last venture up a mountain road was the famous Trollstigen road (blog post here) and down the very steep Eagle Road into Geiranger fjord. This resulted in some very hot brakes that we weren’t too keen on repeating. It was with this in mind that we discussed whether we should take our motorhome up the very steep road to the Dalsnibba viewpoint, 1500 metres above sea level. I said that we are so close we should do it, so off we went. Why would we want to miss the highest viewpoint of fjords in Europe, even though we might have brake failure and plummet hundreds of feet off a mountain road!

Stopping in the middle of the road to talk to fellow Brits!

The road to the Dalsnibba viewpoint started off very gently along FV63. The road was quiet and we were admiring the scenery around us when we saw a motorhome approaching us from the opposite direction. As we got closer, we noticed the couple were waving frantically at us and they had a British number plate. Motorhomers do tend to wave at each other but this was more enthusiastic waving than we normally see.  We noticed in the rear mirrors that they had stopped. We also screeched to a halt in the middle of the road and got out to say hi. It turned out that Richard and Annie were also touring Denmark, Sweden and Norway and were following our travels by reading our blog and they had recognised us! What are the chances?  Naturally, they were full of enthusiasm for Norway and we wished we could have talked for longer, but we were blocking the road and had to crack on. What a lovely couple Richard and Annie were and I hope that we get chance to meet up again for a longer chat sometime soon.

The Dalsnibba Viewpoint

Dalsnibba viewpoint with Geiranger fjord 1500 metres below.

The Dalsnibba road turns off FV63 Geiranger road and you have to pay a toll of 140 NOK (about £13). It’s expensive but considering the effort that has been put into building this mountain road, that ascends 500 metres in a short length of time, I think it’s worth it. We hadn’t chosen the best day for it though because the sky was grey and I was worried that I might not get my £13’s worth of photo opportunities!

In typical Norway fashion there is a visitor centre, shop and toilets as well as one of those viewpoints where the walkway is see through. I could see a drop of hundreds of metres below my feet and many people were refusing to walk on it! I noticed very big steel girders embedded in the rock as I walked out on it and I felt a little more reassured. Geiranger fjord was in the distance below us and the view was awesome. The photos below I took turned out better than I had hoped despite the poor light.

An amazing view from the Dalsnibba viewpoint

Not wanting to have the same brake problems we had descending Dalsnibba as we had descending the Eagle Road, I erred on the side of caution on this much steeper road and went most of the way down in 1st gear!

Lom, a stave church and another free night

Lom is at the intersection of the E15 and RV55 and is the location of one of Norway’s largest Stave churches. A Norwegian Stave church is made completely from wood and even uses wooden pegs instead of nails. Parts of Lom Stave church date from the 1150’s and it was a masterpiece of joinery and quite ornate inside. The Esso station in the town also has a free motorhome service point which was a welcome sight and we were soon on our way again heading west again on the E55 towards Sogndalsfjora

The RV55, another of Norway’s official tourist routes, took us past raging rapids, deep gorges and lakes. The snow poles running on either side of the road were a reminder that in winter these roads would be impassable. At one of  the several places of interest we stopped at we got talking to a French couple in a 4×4 super cool camper van and we exchanged information on where we had both been, which is always a good thing to do.

Monday night was spent in another free camping area for which we are now loving Norway for. It’s not on any apps. But we came across a perfect parking area on the RV55, right beside a fast-flowing river and surrounded by mountains, one of which is Norway’s highest mountain, Galdopiggen, at 2469 metres high. The only downside was that we had no phone signal at all, although some would say that’s a good thing.

Driving a motorhome through Norway is proving to be an amazing experience.

The Stave church at Lom, Norway. Made entirely of wood.