Introduction to Gudvangen, Sogn og Fjordane
Gudvangen is tucked away in a quiet southern recess of the great Sognefjord,
Gudvangen is at the end of the Nærøyfjord, a branch of the Sognefjord and the narrowest navigable fjord in the world. Over a thousand years ago this was a Viking trading centre and by the 17th century over 400 people lived in the town. However, more than half the population of that time emigrated – mainly to North America – because there was not enough land to support the population.
This was one of Norway’s first cruise destinations – the old souvenir shop was built in 1876 – but lack of building land means that Gudvangen has changed very little and it remains a typical fjord village. The White Caves, about 6km out of town, offer a stunning sound and light show. The caves are carved out of anorthosite – ‘white rock’ – which is only found in large quantities here – and on the moon.
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Many tales have been born in the area of Gudvangen. Sailing into the Nærøyfjord and sighting the cliff called The Hoof, we can surely understand why.
Legend tells of a battle between the devil and the trolls, during which Lucifer lost his hoof.
Travelling along the River Nærøy from Gudvangen (meaning ‘field of the gods’), in front of us we see the road winding its way up the mountainside, with waterfalls plunging on both sides from peaks above – to the left Stalheimsfossen, to the right Sivlefoss. We shall descend this route later – an impressive drive.
For the moment we follow the new road leading upwards, which passes through two tunnels to the Tvindefossen Waterfall – a magical stop. This waterfall with its spectacular 150 metre (492 feet) drop is a photographer’s delight. After a photo stop and maybe a few drops of the rejuvenating fresh water, we continue our tour back towards the Stalheim Hotel.
The well known Stalheim Hotel is spectacularly perched upon a cliff 550 metres (1,800 feet) high, overlooking waterfalls and the valley below; here we shall enjoy refreshments. We can also visit the interesting museum near the hotel, a collection of 25 farmhouses – the oldest from the 1500’s – and the fully furnished Lekve Manor from Voss. Stalheim Hotel itself is filled with articles of interest, and has a souvenir shop in which we may purchase typical Norwegian goods.
Our return to Gudvangen takes us down Norway’s steepest road, with 13 hairpin bends leading down to the valley floor (it is not always possible to take the road with hairpin bends however, so a different route may be taken).
TOUR NOTES: This tour involves some walking, including a steep, gravel covered slope leading to the museum. The hotel’s toilets are difficult to access by wheelchair. Please note this tour includes a journey with hairpin bends and tunnels, therefore it may not be suitable for passengers who suffer from vertigo or claustrophobia.
DESCRIPTION CORRECT FOR THE 2011 NORWAY SEASON
Gudvangen, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway cruises
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