Today became known as Glacier Day. Norway has around 1600 glaciers on the mainland. Our goal today was to visit two of them, Briksdalsebreen and Kjenndalsbreen…
We decided to leave pretty early in the morning, to try and reach Briksdalsbreen before all the tourists get there. Briksdalen is accessed through the town of Olden. In summer it is the destination for many cruise ships, and the glacier is the top spot to go to.
As we drove through the town we could see a dozen buses lined up next to the cruise ship, ready to ferry tourists up to the glacier. After we parked at the Briksdalsbreen centre, we walked up to the souvenir shop and browsed a bit.
There’s tow ways of reaching Briksdalsbreen. By walking, or by taking the shuttle cars that run back and forth between the visitors centre and the glacier. There’s still some walking from the end of the line to the actual glacier, but if you’re not able to walk, you can at least get most of the way there.
Halfway up, after getting a nice shower from a waterfall, we started getting passed by the shuttle cars. They introduced these cars in 2004, previously the trip up could be had by horse and carriage. A round trip in these cars is around 1.5 hours. We spent about an hour hiking to the glacier, stopping at all the scenic points along the way.
Along the path to the glacier there are a lot of signs marking where the glacier used to be in the past. And coming up to the lake near the glacier, I can even remember how much further down the lake it used to be when I was there last. These days it’s only hanging over the top of the mountain, whereas before it stretched out over the lake.
Even though the glacier has receded a lot over the last years, it was still an amazing sight! We spent some time around the lake before we started the trip back down. We’d really recommend getting up early to visit the glacier if you want to avoid the crowds. When we got back down to the visitors centre, there were buses parked everywhere.
The next destination for us today would be Kjenndalsbreen. Both Briksdalsbreen and Kjenndalsbreen are part of the larger Jostedalsbre. To get to Kjenndalsbreen, we drive to Loen, and head up the road running along Lovatnet lake.
The colour of the lake was an amazing emerald green. From the start of the lake it’s possible to park and take a boat trip up to the cafe/restaurant in Kjenndalen. We decided to drive this time, as we wanted to visit the glacier and didn’t have time for the full hike from the cafe. Right at the end of the road leading up to Kjenndalen there is a toll post. For a car it’s 40NOK. Unfortunately we didn’t have change so we ended up paying 100NOK. Woops…
At the end of the road, there is a nice picnic spot near the river. Tables and even toilets are available. So we decided to have our lunch there. We had packed lunch this time, with coffee and brown cheese.. can’t get a more Norwegian lunch than that.
It doesn’t take long to reach the end of the built up path near the glacier. But we felt like it’s not close enough, so we decided to get a bit closer for a better view.
Kjenndalsbreen has a very different atmosphere to Briksdalsbreen. It’s a lot less built up, and since it’s a bit more complicated to get there, there are a lot less people. We preferred Kjenndalsbreen. Not only because it has more of the atmosphere we were looking for, but also because of the drive up to the glacier. Such spectacular views!
After Kjenndalsbreen we only had one last spot to go to, Hjelle. Hjelle sits at the top of Oppstrynsvatnet lake. It’s the last fuel stop for 70km if you’re heading up and over the mountain. But the reason we wanted to visit was to try our luck to take an iconic photo there.
Not exactly the same as the ones we’ve seen featured on instagram and other photo sites, but close enough. The visit to Hjelle marked the end of our day. We finished of the day by stopping by the shops in Stryn to buy some snacks we could enjoy during the evening.
We think Briksdalsbreen gives the best glacier experience, but if you’re looking for a more genuine experience Kjennsdalsbreen is the way to go… Actually, go to both like we did. That’s the best option!
We’ll have a video up of our day once we’re back in Japan!