Waterfall 182 metres deep
This morning we have sailed into Hardangerfjord, one of Norway’s largest and certainly most picturesque fjords. Our first stop is the small community of Eidfjord. Not really a city, but certainly important, with over 500 inhabitants! We are met here by our private coach and guide, Eva. The Furlongs family have organised a private excursion up to Voringsfossen, a waterfall with a free fall drop of 182 metres. On the way up to the Hardangervidda Plateau, Eva tells us about the area, its history and economy, and the weather. It is cloudy and when we reach the top it is snowing! Perfect weather for hanging over a viewpoint to watch water gushing down a crevice. We are the only people here. The viewpoint is supervised by the Fossli Hotel which overlooks the area. We pop into the hotel to see the old photographs (and to use the toilets). We are the only people here too!
Heading back downhill we stop at the Hardangervidda Nature Centre. Another award-winning museum and interpretive centre, it consists of three floors depicting wildlife, plants and geology of the Hardanger area. The 20-minute film of Hardangervidda through the seasons is worth the entrance alone. It is filmed from a helicopter and you certainly get the feeling of being on board! The souvenir shop and café is also popular.
Eva also takes us along the fjord to see the Eidfjord Hydro Electric Power Station. It is built into the mountainside and during high season you can visit “inside” by driving 700 metres into the mountain. Not today, the main doors are open as we approach but close quickly once they see us!
FRAM leaves Eidfjord around lunchtime and we sail along Hardangerfjord towards Agatunet and Ullensvang. Agatunet is one of Norway’s most famous outdoor museums, featuring a farmstead of around 30 listing buildings dating from the middle ages. Ullensvang is a small community on the other side of the fjord and located in the middle of the fruit growing area. Some of the fruit trees have begun to blossom and the views towards the mountains in all directions are wonderful.
After dinner we are invited to the ship’s lounge to listen to a discussion between Olav Orheim and Professor Julian Dowdeswell. Olav is part of the ship’s expedition team. He is a Norwegian glaciologist and climatologist who has led numerous scientific expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctic and is currently chairman of the museum in Oslo that houses the original Fram ship. Julian is on board as a guest lecturer and is in charge of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge. Tonight’s discussion is about explorers Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton and their various strengths and weaknesses. It is a lively talk at times but remains good natured throughout! Expedition Leader, Line, has to call time around 11pm to allow guests to go to bed. If you are interested in polar exploration history it was a magical evening and could have gone on all night!