Norway: Ever wanted to see the Northern Lights?
Jacob and I were invited to spend two weeks in Norway with Mitt Norge and the Hovden tourism board, following on to an extra trip up to Lofoten to hopefully catch the northern lights! When I found out we were going I was so excited! It had been ages since I'd spent some proper time in the snow and 6 years since I'd been on some skis so I was super excited but slightly nervous to hit the slopes again. We flew all the way from Bali to Norway with KLM airlines. A total of 26 hours travelling from door to door! With this challenging journey complete it was such a relief to check into our hotel for the night 'The Thief' in Oslo.
To get to Hovden from Oslo we had to embark on a four hour car ride through the mountains and the deep snow. We arrived at night time, around 10 pm and was welcomed into the cabin we would be staying in for the next four nights. As we opened the door, the smell of fresh wood greeted us and it turns out that it was brand new and we were the first people to stay there! The cabin we stayed in was a four bedroom cabin which also had a sauna which was amazing, so, so nice to hop into after a cold day skiing! There were many other photographers and influencers on this trip which was super cool as everyone's style is so different and we all shared our tips and ticks.
Waking up the first morning and looking outside to see white mountains below a blue sky was such a welcomed change from the grey skies in London, it made me realise how lucky I was to be there! Of course because of the excitement of being in a new destination, we got up super early and headed to the mountains for our first bit of Skiing. I hadn't been on skis for over 6 years so naturally it was a daunting experience for me at first. Once I'd successfully got on and off the the ski lift it was starting to come back to me. The first run we did was an easy blue, which I snow ploughed the whole way down but once I had mastered a few runs I got my confidence back and started to relax allowing me to go faster and even practice a few jumps! It was so much fun and just feeling the wind through my hair as I was gaining speed down the mountain made me question why I had left it so long since the last time!
One particular day in snowy paradise that I will remember forever (mostly as it included my favourite thing on this planet!) is the dog sledding! I'd never done this before but it was always something on my bucket list. We drove 40 minutes from our cabin and arrived at the dog sledding, there was a strong stench of dog that welcomed us but I didn't mind. There were 30 beautiful dogs all with different coats and eye colours, some young and some old but they were all so gorgeous, barking at us as soon as we arrived, ready to run. We got suited up with warm boots and jackets, with a quick intro into how to ride the sled, soon we were paring up and jumping in to start. I sat in the sled which was really comfy and warm as it had a big sleeping bag in there whilst Jacob hopped on the back to have full control of the dogs. Before I knew it we were setting off, the dogs itching to go faster. There were around 6 sleds to fit all of our group, all behind one another in single file. We set off through the trees in the mountains, whizzing through the gaps and racing downhill. The dogs absolutely love it, even from their first run they know what to do straight away, it's in their blood. This experience is definitely one I will remember, the dogs were so happy and the landscape was incredible. There were many moments where I looked around in awe of where I was. Always feeling grateful for the experiences we get to have. Just one last thing though and the most important thing, when doing dog sledding make sure to do your research into who the provider is due to the welfare of the dogs!
For the rest of our stay in Hovden we took full advantage of being so close to the slopes, Jacob and I spent an afternoon skiing, we hiked up to some cool locations on the mountains and found some cool places to shoot photos. On one of our last evenings here we were all treated to a surprise. We got told to hop on the back of a ski mobile which drove us ten minutes into the mountains and as we turned a corner we saw a campfire in the distance surrounded by seats made from snow. The whole group sat around the campfire, had some beers, a bbq and just had a really nice time chatting and getting to know each other even more. It was such a contrast to see the burning hot fire surrounded by mountains of snow and trees covered with icicles. Such a rare but beautiful sight.
Our time in Hovden sadly came to an end, the trip seemed to go really quickly! This was my first taster into Norway and it couldn't have been a better one! The place we stayed was beautiful and the scenery was epic! With white rocky mountains in every direction and the cold crisp mornings, it was magical. Next on our agenda was to travel back to Oslo and head towards our next location, Lofoten!
We stayed at The Hattvika Lodge whilst in Lofoten, we occupied 6 different cabins due to how many of us there were on the trip and each cabin was unique and amazing in its own way. There was also a hot tub and sauna for use outside which was perfect! Such a great way to wind down after a busy day or just to escape the cold!
Our first morning here in Lofoten we awoke to watch the sunrise, we drove for around 30 minutes from the lodge to our chosen sunrise spot of a cute old town called Nusford, with little red cabins on stilts over the water contrasting the snowy shore. This village is one of the oldest villages in Lofoten and it was so peaceful and surreal to see how it's still untouched by usual tourism. We got the drones up and spent the morning hanging around here finding unique places to take some photos like this bridge leading to a small lighthouse.
We were all feeling very energetic one day so spontaneously decided to go to the bottom of the mountain Ryten to hike it! I absolutely love to hike, from living in New Zealand for 6 months I climbed various mountains in varied weather but nothing ever like this. The hike lasted around 2 hours to get to the top peak with ice, deep snow and rocks it was definitely a terrain I'm not used to but it was so fun to experience this new challenge. As we were walking in minus conditions I was worried I'd get cold but it was the complete opposite as most of it was uphill so it was a workout. Getting to the top was difficult and at the last 30-minute point there's a huge steep hill and I was questioning if I could do it ( as was most of the team!) as its harder to walk in deep snow but I pushed on and made it to the top with the most rewarding view. When we all got to the top we lit a fire with some wood we took up there and cooked some food whilst enjoying the sunset. We headed down to the bottom at dusk and the view walking down was beautiful, the mountains ahead had this pink layer over them and above that a blue hue to it and it was just magical. We got to the bottom an hour later and set off for some well-earned dinner.
After dinner this day just got even better, we noticed that the sky was super clear and as we looked up we could see a tinge of green. The northern lights! I'd only ever seen the northern lights once out of a cockpit of a plane so was super pumped to see them properly. We hunted the Northern Lights for a few hours watching them light up, dance around the sky and change from green to white to purple. It was truly magical! Such a surreal experience.
Our final day in Lofoten was an unforgettable one, we were informed that they had arranged for a plane ride for us over the islands of Lofoten! We drove ten minutes to the closest airport, hopped on a small plane with just four seats in it and cruised around the skies of the islands, it was mesmerising. With the shimmering mountains being complimented by the turquoise waters (which you'd expect to see somewhere like the Maldives) it was so peaceful. We flew around the sky for an hour which was not long
enough, I could have spent all day up there!
Our time in Norway was such an adventure, we met so many cool and interesting people, that I have learnt a lot from. Did some crazy exciting things that I haven't ever done before and spent two weeks in cute cabins with the best company. Thank you for having us Mitt Norge!