If you’re reading this then the chances are that you already know a fair bit about this country and its whitewater, however, there are a few things that you can’t really know until you’ve been there and experienced it, made the mistakes and talked it through in depth in the pub afterward. I have been lucky enough to spend the last two summers in this awesome country and thought that I would share a few insights, tips and tricks …
- The whitewater is much, much bigger and more powerful than it looks from the road bridge. I can easily say that I joined the long list of ‘surprised Brits’ upon my first outing on Norwegian whitewater. Thankfully I am yet to join the ranks of ‘swimming Brits’ so far … Although most of the media that comes out of Norway depicts nothing but gnar and more gnar, there actually plenty of awesome grade 2-3 runs out there to be had.
- Get a copy of the Klatt/Obsommer Norwegian whitewater guidebook. This book has been invaluable to us for the past two summers. A lot has changed since the book was written in terms of rapid formations and how high the sections get paddled regularly but the put-ins and take-outs in the book are still the same. A lot more runs of a wider range of grades are detailed in Tore Nossum’s PDF guide, which is becoming harder to find on the internet.
- Google Earth. There is still so much whitewater left to be found in Norway. I highly encourage anyone with an adventurous spirit to get on Google Earth and go explore.
- For the pastier skin tones such as my own, it is important to remember that Norway is the country of the ‘midnight sun and as such you will spend almost the entire twenty-four hours being toasted by the sun’s rays. Bring sun cream, lots of it. I once got sunburnt on my eyelids, whilst sleeping, at 2 am.
- On the subject of sun, that devil star can make sleeping impressively difficult and I highly recommend either grabbing one of the eye covers they give you on the plane or improvising and making your own.
- You can camp almost anywhere in Norway (see allemannsretten), bring the stuff you need to be comfortable when camping … or don’t … I didn’t … but I am also quite content sleeping on my paddle bag.
- If you can bring food from other countries do it. The cost of living is expensive in Norway (unless you are Swiss).
- The coffee mug of power. This is a deal by the major petrol station (Circle K) that enables you to buy one re-usable cup and have free coffee for the entire summer. It seems expensive at first but please believe me when I say that I have ran the numbers numerous times and if you are staying for at least one week it is well worth your money … if like me you drink at least four cups of coffee a day …
- Listen to the locals, they normally know best …
Thanks to Halvor Heggem and Rowan James for the lifestyling photos. I hope some of those tips are of use to you, more than anything I hope you have an awesome summer in Norway! – Bren
Bonus tip for the cash-strapped kayaker – ask your local raft guide what the cheapest options for food are. I shall say no more than that.