Italian Family Discover Norway's Natural Beauty in a Motorhome
Join us on this exiting journey in Norway!
Ours is a family of travelers, from New Zealand to Southern Patagonia, from Canada to Switzerland, from Polynesia to the Canary Islands, we are always looking for peace in unspoiled nature. What gratifies us the most is to be able to breathe the coolness in the woods, watch the flowing waters of the rivers at the foot of the mountains, sit in silence on the banks of placid lakes.
Being able to take an On The Road trip to Norway was our unfulfilled dream until now. The pandemic and the events of life had forced us to postpone this dreamed adventure several times. Until now!
We finally took a decisive step in January 2021 and bought our airline tickets to Oslo almost blindly, not knowing if the pandemic rules for international travel would then prevent us from traveling to Northern Europe.
Physically arriving in the Scandinavian Peninsula was not enough to fulfill our desire for adventure, we strongly wanted to make a flexible trip, which would allow us not to have to plan any travel in advance, in total autonomy, letting ourselves be guided by instinct and the surprise of discovery. For all these reasons, the choice to travel by camper was immediately obvious.
We have long been looking for a solution suitable for our family of three, mum, dad and the little 5-year-old Thiago. We wandered around many camper rental websites at prices that unfortunately took us out of the available budget for this trip. One day later, thanks to an advertisement that suddenly appeared on Facebook (spy cookies? Hehe) we discovered Campr.no, a real AirBnB for campers!
On Campr.no we looked for the most suitable vehicle for our needs and contacted the owner. Once we reached the agreement on the conditions of the rental and the extras, we proceeded with the booking. The support of the people of Campr.no was immediately impeccable and our booking was shortly and smoothly confirmed. A beautiful camper of less than 6 meters, with everything necessary to allow us to live our adventure, and above all at a rate at least 40% cheaper than what we had found up to that moment. A bargain!
Our son was the true proponent of this adventure, with his 5 years he has a very strong passion for campers. He almost always decided on his own where to stop and spend the night simply by looking at the landscape outside the window. He enjoyed walking in the woods to look for mushrooms and raspberries, trekking along even challenging paths, and looking at the color of the granite rocks on the shore of rivers through his magnifying glass. In the moments of rest he kept busy with his colors, Lego, origami and school cards left for the summer. We also used various children's areas found along the way. For the long driving we have granted some moments of cartoons and games at the tablet.
Many friends had warned us, and we were able to confirm during our experience, Norway is very well equipped for travelers in a camper, with areas for free parking, many public wastewater disposal areas, and drinking water everywhere.
The ferries are easy to take, just queue up and wait for your turn to board, without prior reservation. Ferries run every 20 to 40 minutes. Our camper had a Norwegian license plate, so for the toll, the license plate was scanned and the bill was sent electronically directly to the owner so that the final bill of our tolls was paid after the end of the trip.
We have been so lucky during our adventure, we always had sunny days with very mild temperatures, very few clouds, never a drop of rain, and Northern Lights for 4 nights.
For the Aurora Forecast we used the official Norwegian website, very well detailed, divided by zones and with celestial maps of visibility on the horizon: https://site.uit.no/spaceweather/data-and-products/aurora/
Of the 11 nights in the camper, 7 were in free areas and 4 in camping. In the campsites we took advantage of the water drainage, electricity, hot showers and kitchens. Free camping in Norway is very safe and very often we found ourselves in complete solitude on the shores of placid lakes, eating wild raspberries, and with the stars reflected in the waters at night, with only the chirping of birds or the flowing of rivers as noise. Basically, a real daydream.
Except for a couple of occasions, we have always limited our driving trips to no more than 2 or 3 hours in total during the day, making many stops for contemplation and excursions.
We traveled 1693 km in camper, to which trains and ferries should be added. We consumed about 160 liters of Diesel. The use of the Park4Night app was fundamental to identify potential spots to spend the night or to drain waters.
I gladly report a short summary of our daily activities, which will surely be useful to other travelers!
AUGUST 26th. Departure from La Palma (Canary Islands), the island where we live, and stopover in Gran Canaria from where we took the direct flight to Oslo, arriving there after midnight. We spent the first night in a hotel near the airport. The connections from/to the airport are excellent as is all Norwegian public transport, flawless and very simple.
AUGUST 27th. Breakfast and then off back to the airport from where we took a regional train to Asker, where we had set the meeting point for the delivery of the camper. The delivery went smoothly, in the parking lot of a supermarket to then facilitate the shopping of groceries for the start of the journey. We left for Langfoss (5 hours driving), but obviously the landscape along the E134 was immediately beautiful, so we made many stops. Finally, around 8pm we providentially decided to stop and sleep on the banks of the Ståvatn lake on the border between Telemark and Vestland. The stop was providential because at the end of the twilight the Aurora exploded in the darkness of the night, reflecting on the waters of the lake. In addition, a beautiful Milky Way was shining above our camper. The best possible welcome for the beginning of our adventure!
AUGUST 28th. Having removed Langfoss from the itinerary, we drove directly to Steinsdalsfossen via Folgefonna National Park, including Latefossen and Odda in the route. The landscapes are impressive, ranging from high-altitude wastelands surrounded by snowfields, to green mountains and sparkling lakes. For the night we stopped at Oppheimsvatnet on the way to Gudvangen. During the night we saw the Milky Way wonderfully mirrored in the lake.
AUGUST 29th. We arrived in Gudvangen in the late morning, and did nothing, just relaxing by the Næroyfjord, enjoying the high mountains and dozens of waterfalls view around us. After lunch we went to Flåm where we found two cruise ships from which many people had disembarked and a beautiful market of handicrafts and typical products, with cheerful and festive people. Our son found a well-equipped playground and spent a peaceful afternoon jumping from slides and swings. In the late afternoon we drove to Aurland, a 20 minute drive on the Aurlandsfjord, where we found a beautiful riverside campsite surrounded by high mountains. We took a relaxing walk along the fjord during sunset, when the mountains turned orange. At the campsite there were apple trees and we were intrigued to try their taste. We discovered how good Summer Apples can be, crunchy and aromatic. For the Winter Apples we will have to wait for the next trip...
AUGUST 30th. After an obligatory stop in Stegastein we started to walk the Snow Road (Bjørgavegen, or Aurlandsfjellet Scenic Route, from Aurlandsvangen to Gamle Lærdalsøyri, closed in winter). There are many stops to make along these 47 km, to enjoy very scenic walks, and to reach waterfalls and the shores of icy high-altitude lakes. We went very slowly, stopping very often and walking a lot. There was no wind, the silence was muffled (apart from the noisy voice of our little troll). Once in Lærdal we did some shopping for food and went to park on the shore of the fjord. Thiago colored until sunset, he sat with me to take pictures, while my wife sipped her drink looking at the mountains reflected in the fjord at sunset. As soon as twilight ended, the Aurora exploded for the second time.
AUGUST 31st. We drove on a foggy freezing morning along route number 5 towards Bøyabreen Glacier. The mountains along this itinerary have changed, steeper and more rugged, while the valleys were emerald green. The sunlight played with the shadows on the slopes. We briefly walked to the glacier on a well-marked but muddy path. The lunch from the window of the camper with a view of the falls from the surrounding peaks was rewarding. In the afternoon we drove to Oldevatnet, and stopped at a beautiful campsite with a breathtaking view, right by the lake. We found a front line pitch right by the lake and then hired a boat for about an hour while the sunset came slowly. With the warm twilight lights, our appetizer of chips and popcorn felt like food of the gods.
SEPTEMBER 1st. The morning was foggy, but the scenery changed with the arrival of the light between the peaks of the mountains, when the mist rose from the lake giving us back the view of the mountains. So wonderful! We went to Briksdalsbreen to see the glacier. The walk is simple, but it climbs steeply on the outward journey and descends just as abruptly on the way back. It takes 45/50 minutes to get to the glacier and 40 to go down. There are also small diesel cars that transport people who do not feel like walking, with the arrival point 600 meters from the glacial lake. However, the last 600 meters are also accessible to strollers and wheelchairs. Along the walking path we cross a thundering waterfall, high and impetuous, which left us soaked (just perfect, since the sun was at peak and it was hot). Our little troll feasted on wild raspberries along the way. The landscape around was superb. Once back, we had lunch by the river, near the camper car park, and then we slowly went towards Lovatnet, where we found a pitch in a campsite on the front line of the lake with a view that was difficult to improve. The sunset was sublime, with a beautiful atmosphere of silence and peace. We took lots of photos to remember that moment.
SEPTEMBER 2nd. We left for Geiranger not having in mind where to stop. The road climbs steeply after passing Oppstrynsvatnet. At the border between Vestlands and Møre Og Romsdal the road becomes narrow and exposed. The landscape is harsh and desolate, which I prefer, with ice caps on the peaks and waterfalls feeding the lakes of the plateau. It was worth it to reach the Geiranger Skysslag from where the panorama extends for tens of kilometers around between the peaks where clouds were gathering at that time. The view over the Geirangerfjord was stunning. We too have left our beautiful stoneman. In the late afternoon we went down to Geiranger and with great luck we found a place in the only free parking with overnight parking allowed, a couple of kilometers after the town, right on the fjord. In the evening Thiago sang birthday greetings to my mom in a video call from Italy, virtually blowing out the candles with her.
SEPTEMBER 3rd. On the morning of September 3rd we visited the town of Geiranger, really beautiful. We stopped at the Ørnesvingen viewpoint and from there we made a simple 30 minute trek to an even higher point, eating wild raspberries as usual. We then left for Trollstigen. In the few kilometers preceding the arrival at the site, the landscape transforms with sharp and imposing mountains, framing arid high-altitude lands. The beauty of the place is overwhelming, the mountains look like tentacles that come out of the Earth. There was a lot of wind and a nice invigorating cold. We visited the tourist lookout and then walked the steep and rocky path towards Bispevatnet. We parked the camper together with others on a scree next to the tourist facility of the viewpoint. The forecast for the Aurora for the night was promising. In the evening, tired of so much walking, after dinner we looked out to look for the lights and they there! What we didn't know was that within half an hour the storm would move right over our heads, exploding with the bright green lights dancing softly in the dark at high altitudes. We were accompanied by the noise of the river next to the camper.
SEPTEMBER 4th. We didn't know what to do. If to go to Trondheim, if go back to Lom, or just to go and see the Atlantic Road. As we drove towards Åndalsnes in the valley just below the Trollstigen switchbacks, we passed a campsite strewn with giant trolls and a huge play area. Our little troll in the camper went into raptures so we promised him we would spend the night there. The decision was then to go and take a look at the Atlantic Road and then come back. It costed us many hours of driving, but the landscapes were worth it. On our return, we found few guests at the campsite. Thiago spent a couple of hours playing and then we had dinner checking the Aurora forecast and sadly it was uncertain. We tried poking our nose out in the dark around 10:30pm, and… it was the most beautiful, powerful, colorful and spectacular Aurora I've ever seen (and I've seen many in my life). The kid screamed of happiness and recognized the colors and waves of light circling the sky as a smooth mist slowly rose around us. An unforgettable moment that sincerely moved me to look at him so happy and at peace.
There is always a moment of the journey in which, although the journey is not finished, you feel you have reached your destination. It's a feeling I can't explain, a sort of fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment. In Trollstigen we had our final idyll. Our Jubilee were the days of 3 and 4 September right there.
SEPTEMBER 5th. Morning spent strolling along the fjord in the enchanting Åndalsnes. Around noon we left for Oslo, and we driven a lot, sadly thinking that the adventure was at the end. We made no stops, apart from lunch. The idea was to be able to get as close as possible to the delivery point of the camper in order to prepare the luggage and clean the vehicle for delivery. In the evening we slept by a quiet lake (Nordbytjernet) in Jessheim, near Oslo airport, where there were many families spending the afternoon hours in the sports areas.
SEPTEMBER 6th. Short morning visit to central Oslo using public transport. The public transport network has proved to be very efficient throughout Norway with frequent and very easy connections (buses, metro, trains, ferries). In the center of Oslo we wandered as tourists visiting mostly souvenir shops to take something home. In the afternoon the owner of the camper offered to let us park on his farm near Asker and to spend the night there to facilitate packing and cleaning. He even offered us his home so we could shower and let our son use the family playground. We were on top of a hill surrounded by agricultural fields and green meadows.
SEPTEMBER 7th. Wake up at 6:30 and quick breakfast. The owner of the camper immediately accompanied us to Asker from where we took the train to the airport and from there our plane took us back home to the Canary Islands.
This was a once in a lifetime journey. There was a tremendous coincidence of factors that made every move and every decision in the right place at the right time. We will never forget this adventure. Indeed, we are already organizing the next one! Campr.no will surely be our provider for the camper we will rent!
We in Campr wish you a great trip! Check out vehicles here