Visiting Norway with a kayak
Are you looking into going to Norway for the summer to paddle, we have tried to gather all the information you need in one place. Scroll down to see if you can find the information you are looking for.
When coming to Ekstremsportveko to paddle you can, of course, come for the week of the festival and then leave, but most people choose to stay for a bit longer and do the “Norway circuit”. You can start in Voss with Ekstremsportveko, then slowly head up towards Valldal through Sogndal for the next festival, and then head over to Sjoa through Rauma for the Sjoa River Festival. This route is packed with whitewater and you almost need to hurry if you want to get to the festivals in times. If you have more time Northern Norway is worth the drive.
Valldal Summer Games is a very loose bonfire grassroots gathering where the local’s outdoor people gather.
Sjoa River Festival has a long tradition when it comes to pimps ‘n’ hoes. Ahh and not to forget their legendary extreme races.
Getting to Norway
Like for all kayaking trips, your kayaking trip to Norway will be a lot easier with a car or a van. People from Europe often choose to drive up, usually taking which ever way is fastest through Europe up to Hirtshals, Denmark. From there you have a couple of options.
Take the Color Line Super Speed from Hirtshals to Larvik. It takes about 4 hours and is not expensive. From Larvik it’s a 6 hour drive to Voss. If you have some time before Ekstremsportveko starts you can spend some time in Telemark which will be on your way to Voss. Check out “The whitewater guide to Norway” by Olaf Obsommer to know where to go.
Fjordline does ferries from Hirtshals to Bergen. From there Voss is only a 1,5 hr drive away. It’s a little more expensive, and it takes longer (overnight), but you don’t have to do the drive from Larvik to Voss. Taking into account the drive from Larvik on the other option, the costs of these two options probably end up being similar.
If you want to drive the whole way and not spend your money on the ferry, you can also take the bridge from Denmark to Sweden and then drive through southern Sweden to Norway. But it’s super far. Taking the ferry from Denmark to Norway is easier and probably cheaper.
Flying to Oslo (OSL) is usually the cheapest, but then you have to make your way to Voss. Driving takes about 6 hours. You could drive through Telemark and enjoy some of the classics on the way to Voss.
Taking the train from Oslo to Voss is pretty easy. You can get a local train from Oslo Airport (downstairs in the airport) to Oslo Central Station, and get the regional train from there towards Bergen, and get off the train in Voss. There are regional trains about four times a day, check www.nsb.no for train times. Oslo to Voss. If you ask nicely bringing a kayak usually won’t be an issue. The views on this train ride are amazing, and on the last bit before you get to Voss the railway follows the one and only Raundalen river. Make sure you pay attention.
You can also fly to Bergen (BGO). From there Voss is 1,5 hours away. You can rent a car from there, or get to Voss by public transport. The light rail/tram (Bybanen) to Bergen now goes from the airport and is cheap. It has a stop at the train station in Bergen (called Nonneseter). From there, there are trains to Voss every hour (the last train at night is 00:09)
Renting a car should be pretty easy from all airports. Make sure you ask for roof racks or bring handiracks, or similar. Think about whether you want extra insurance because of kayaks going on and off the roof, wet gear, driving on gravel roads etc.
Traveling on a shoestring
Running Norwegian whitewater is more desirable than you budget might allow. Here are our tips to traveling on a shoestring.
The Norwegian kroner has dropped almost 30% in value the last five years. The old guys still believe it’s as expensive.
Driving from mainland europe: Get three+ friends to split the traveling costs. Stock up on food in Germany.
Camping is free but it comes with responsibilities! Read the recreation act and stick to it.
Festivals entrance: Trade your time with volunteering in return for a festival pass. Both Ekstremsportveko and Sjoa River Festival offer such deals.
Email: (firstname.lastname@example.org) we need kayakers to help at the kayak races
When you’re here
The outdoor recreation act is essential to be familiar with.
In Norway we have the amazing outdoor recreation act. It makes it possible to explore the outdoors and set up camp almost anywhere, which makes kayaking trips that much easier. This law gives us a lot of rights, but it also comes with responsibilities.
To go kayaking we often depend on driving on private roads for access and parking/moving on farmers land. For us to be able to keep doing this it is super important to maintain a good relationship and to be as little trouble as possible for land owners. Here are some of the main points to be aware of and try to follow as best as we can:
-Do not park your car in private drive ways, roads etc. where the car can cause problems for landowners etc. (If you are not sure if you are parking in a good spot – knock on the door and ask!)
-Do not take short cuts across fenced land, farmyards or other private property.
-Respect the interests of people who live and work in the countryside.
-Pay the required fee for private roads.
-Dry (completely) or disinfect your boat and equipment before moving to a different river or lake, to avoid spreading disease. (Get in contact with the local paddlers, clubs or kayak shops like Kayak Voss and Strie Strømmer to get the information and disinfectant)
-Do not put up your tent less than 150m from occupied houses or huts.
-Do not stay more than 2 nights at the same campsite.
-Do not leave any garbage or toilet paper (burn the toilet paper). And try not to ruin camp spots and put ins by going to the toilet everywhere.
-You may light a fire in the open country, but not in or near woodland from 15th April to 15th September. Only light a fire in places where it is obvious that it is not a hazard.
-Always contact the police if you lose any gear and consider contacting a local too. If you lose gear, especially boats, please contact the local police station at +47 56528700, and the kayaking head of safety Mike Abbott (+47 97086602). That way we can avoid false alarms and big rescue missions when people are safe and accounted for. For emergencies – call police at 112 and/or ambulance at 113.
Take nothing but photos, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but footprints – enjoy!
Finding information, where to go etc.
-Get your hands on “the whitewater guide to Norway” by Olaf Obsommer, aka the Norway kayaking bible. There is also a guide book for the area of Oppdal, you can get both at the Strie Strømmer shops in Sjoa or Voss.
– For information about where to go, waterlevels etc – talk to a local paddler! There is an app for water levels for the main rivers in Voss, called Waterlevels. Find it here for IOS or find it here for Android
– General maps of the different areas can be bought in book stores.
– Want a guided trip? Get in contact with Kayak Voss.
Kayaking During Ekstremsportveko
There is a lot going on during the busiest week of the year in Voss. Here are some of the things that are worth knowing about:
-Every day from Sunday – Todays video at 9pm. Video in the big tent showing what has been going on around Voss that day. Great vibe, good fun. Be there.
-Horgi ned. Extreme triathlon. Monday. Skiing, mountain biking and kayaking. As a team or individual. Check it out.
-Brandseth Downhill. Thursday. Class 4 ish. Cash prizes. Could end up being on a different river depending on water levels. Get signed up and get in racing shape. It’s the big day for kayakers. Write up and photos from 2017: http://www.kayaksession.com/ekstremsportveko-2017-myrkdalen-downhill-race-report-results-gallery/
– Myrkdalen Holy Diver Giant Slalom. Friday. Top paddlers from Thursday get a chance to race the Holy diver. Its epic. If you don’t make the cut its worth going to watch. Check out kayak sessions report and Todays video from 2017: http://www.kayaksession.com/ekstremsportveko-2017-holy-diver-giant-slalom-report-results-gallery/
-Head 2 Head. Saturday. Boatercross. Class 3, depending on water levels. Split up into different classes; Ladies, Junior, Masters, Mens Pro and Mens Rookie. The rookie class is for all the paddlers that are not at the level of racing on Brandseth. http://www.kayaksession.com/ekstremsportveko-2017-head-2-head-strandaelva-report-results-gallery/
-Barbeque for all kayakers. Saturday, after Head 2 Head. Loads of food for all kayakers up at the Kajakkbua in Bømoen (by the festival camp). Don’t miss it!
-We also offer clinics throughout the week that you sign up for online. They are free for anyone with an extreme pass, who are at the appropriate level (the level where you can paddle class 3 and roll). For example if you’re a class 3 boater you can take part in all the clinics and then race the Head 2 Head on Saturday! Look it up and sign up!
What to bring/gear
It gets cold, even in summer, especially at night. Bring a down jacket, rain gear and a dry suit. Almost all rivers are fed by melting snow, so the water will be cold all summer. Make sure you dress for water temperature, not air temperature.
Bring a tent to sleep in, or a tarp to sleep under if you do not have a van or car to sleep in or a place to crash, it does rain a bit.
It’s smart to bring your own kayak if you can. Buying boats is expensive, and if you were to find somewhere to rent one from it would be expensive if you break it.
Other things to think about
Alcohol is expensive, it’s a good idea to fill up your quota in the duty free or bring from home if youre driving. Norway has zero tolerance for drinking and driving, and alcohol controls are common both at night time and early in the morning.
If you are driving over in early spring, make sure you check that it isn’t still snowing in the mountains. If the roads are still covered by snow and ice summer tyres are a no go (obviously). www.175.no has all the information about which roads are open and not.
Speeding is really expensive. There are speeding cameras along the roads, the ones that catch you then and there, cameras that measure average speed between two cameras, and police who hide in the bushes. Be careful 😉
You can find kayak shops in Voss at Kayak Voss (open on request) and Sjoa/Heidal at Strie Strommer if you need to replace your gear or get something fixed.
Coming to Ekstremsportveko you should buy your extreme pass and sign up for competitions before you get here. The pass is more expensive if you buy it when the event starts. If you want to volunteer and get your pass for free for doing three shifts – send our Head of kayaking a message (email@example.com). We need people for safety, teaching etc.
Summarized, most important things
– Enjoy our nature and rivers, but leave no trace and respect the landowners.
– If you are European – bring your European health card (E111, the blue one). It means you pay for medical treatments like you would in your home country if you get hurt or sick.
– Travel insurance is obviously a good idea.
– Bring warm clothes (good thermals for the river)
– Because of changes in water levels, there can be changes made close to competition day. Make sure you stay up to date by downloading the Ekstremsportveko app and paying attention to your email inbox.
If you would like to join guided tours, enter the Head 2 Head competition, the Brandseth Downhill or the Team Race, please check out the menu to the left for information about the various kayaking-programme during Ekstremsportveko.