The most beautiful tour in Norway – The North Cape Tour
800 km cycling and 10 days on the northern edge of Europe. This was a dream come through for me. Unfortunate, I did not have the experience I should have had in long distance cycling. The equipment was totally wrong and I carried far too much stuff with me. I learnt a lot from the mistakes I did on this tour. Lessons I should had learnt before I undertook such a serious tour as this. The result was that I had to break of the tour 2 days/200 km before planned due equipment failure. But this is still one of my greatest achievements ever and I am pretty proud of this tour, 20 years later.
Please note that the bad quality of the pictures is both due to my incompetence as a photograph and the bad quality of the camera. Some of the photos is also bought and has been stored in a dusty bookshelf for 20 years.
I spent the whole of 1989 in the Norwegian army. 9 months of it up in the north, 2000 km from home. I liked Northern Norway and this is one the reasons why I now live in Scotland. Scotland and Northern Norway has a lot in common.
I brought with me my bike and I did some smaller tours. I quickly found out that I should do the North Cape and back to the army camp tour. I decided on a 1000 km tour on 12 days. The army paid for my trip up to North Cape due to this being our holiday and the army was happy for me to go north instead of south to my family. I did some training and prepared myself. That include a magic tour to Senja and return.
The day finally arrived for my departure and I took the plane to Honningsvaag via Tromso and Hammerfest. A bit of a hairy tour because the bike almost did not make it with me. Very bad planning from my side and a valuable lesson learnt.
I eventually made it to Honningsvaag Airport where I started the tour with the assembly of the bike. I soon found out that I had far too much baggage. I even brought with me a fishing rod ! A mistake I have never repeated.....
Anyway, the first 35 km of the tour was getting from the airport to the North Cape itself. I was cycling in the fjord from the airport towards the first big mountain. It was a steep mountain and the sun was beating down on me. It was good fun, but the road from Honningsvaag to North Cape is one I will forever respect. 35 km with unrelenting climbs and descents. It was actually the hardest part of the whole tour.
The road dropped down from the first big mountain at 325 meters above sea level to a small valley before it rose again to another mountain. It then dropped again and then it rose towards the North Cape plateau at 307 meters above sea level. Some of the road was dirt track and pretty dusty.
Heading to the North Cape plateau.
The landscape was like the moon. Hard, but very nice. I loved it. After three hours of hard work, I was finally at the North Cape plateau. Normally, you have to pay to get in there. But I guess the owner took pity on me and let me in for free.
I really enjoyed the hours I spent there. I saw the sun go down to the sea and then rise again at midnight. There was 24 hours sunshine and that was fantastic to experience. North Cape is a fantastic experience.
My bike at the North Cape plateau.
I then had to turn around south again and start the tour proper. This on the same 35 km back to Honningsvaag. Just before the descent to the airport, I camped and got some hours sleep. The picture below is taken at 0300 in the morning.
Looking back towards North Cape in the far distance
I started again some hours later with the descent to the fjord, past the airport and to Honningsvaag town. If this is a village or town is something you can decide yourself by viewing the picture below.
Looking back towards Honningsvaag and the ferry
Officially, it is a village. This because Hammerfest want to claim the right to be called the most northern town in the world. I bought some food in Honningsvaag before I took the ferry over to the mainland. Today, there is a subsea tunnel between Honningsvaag and the mainland. Back in 1989, a 45 minutes free ferry journey was my only alternative. It was a nice sailing.
Kaafjord ferry with the ferries to Honningsvaag
I ended up in the very remote Kaafjord and a long cycling along the Porsangen fjord was awaiting me. A nice signpost told me it was 71 km to the end of this fjord. I was pretty tired due to very little sleep and I paid the price for that. I remember this signpost because these 71 km in headwind was like a nightmare. This fjord felt like it was going on forever.
The Porsangen fjord. Hard and exposed to the wind
The first half of it was pretty undulating and exposed to the wind too. The worst bit was a climb to around 200 meters above sea level (later replaced with a flat road along the fjord). That was a hard, hard hill.
Some scenery along the fjord
The descent was pretty hairy past some reindeer. I soon came to the Skarberget tunnel and a 3 km tour through the mountain. The end of the fjord was soon near and I was happy as a pig in mud. That is one of the hardest fjords I have ever done.
The road left the fjord and headed straight up to the Hatter mountain. First to a pass which I wrongly thought was the Hatter before the road descended down to a small valley and then climbed to Hatter at 350 meters above sea level. It was starting to rain and I pitched up my tent on the descent to Skaidi. I was so tired that I was soundly asleep within seconds of finding the sleeping bag.
The next morning started with a dead body and a 118 km long detour to Hammerfest and back from Skaidi. I was very tired, but I cracked on down the valley to the sea at Reppardfjorden. I followed the fjord to Kvalsund where I got some food and nice words from the locals before I crossed the bridge to Kvaloya. The 30 km on the southside of Kvaloya to Hammerfest was another nightmare which never seemed to end. But I eventually made it first to Rypefjord. On the hill between these two places, I met a reindeer.Taking a photo seemed like a good idea (tiredness vs. good judgement).
A reindeer between Rypefjord and Hammerfest
Rypefjord in the foreground and Hammerfest in the background
I reached Hammerfest ten minutes later. This is a wonderful place which I rate very highly. Unfortunate, I have not been back since. But still.. I toured this small town and got some mementoes before I returned back to Kvalsund. This time with the wind in my back. That and Hammerfest seemed to have given me extra strength because I was really flying. The scenery was very nice too.
The Kvaloya south-coast between Hammerfest and Kvalsund
I crossed the bridge again and pitched up my tent near the sea at Repparfjorden. A test of a cooking apparatus ended with, literary, a bang. That was the end of my dinner plans. Another three kilos of waste in my rucksack. I had a nice night of sleep despite of the midnight sun. I think I learnt a lot that day about cycling and myself.
I woke up to a nice day and headed in the fjord and up the valley to Skaidi again. I took the E6 towards Sennalandet. The picture is looking back again to Skaidi.
The 30 km road up Repparfjorddalen was pretty boring and hilly up and down along the river. I was looking forward to the moor at Sennalandet and soldiered bravely on.
The valley from Skaidi to Sennalandet
I got a nosebleed at the start of the moor. I do not know why, but the scenery from the church at the beginning of the moor was very nice. I was very pleased with myself.
The beginning of Sennalandet
This moor is the northerly outpost of Finnmarksvidda, which again is the western fringe of the mighty Siberia wilderness. It is a very nice part of the route and complete wilderness.
The road was straight for 20-30 km before it went up a hill to the highest point of the moor at 385 meters above sea level. I bought a reindeer skin just before this hill. Just to add weight on my seriously weighted down bike. The road went down again vertically to a small lake, around that and up to another mountain. From there, I took this photo overlooking Alta.
Overlooking Alta from far away
The road dropped vertically to the sea again and I followed the sea to Tverrelva where I pitched up my tent again for a nice night of sleep. Alta was a mythical like place in my world when I grew up. The reason was the world famous salmon river and I took this picture when crossing it. It was one of the great moments of this tour.
The famous Altaelva salmon river
Overlooking Alta from far away
Alta itself did not live up to the myth, but reality never does that anyway. Alta is one of the major cities in the Northern Norway and a major crossroad.
I am pleased to have been there.
The road out of Alta took me past some old historical places and in the fjord, over a moor and up a small hill to Kaafjord. This is where the legendary battleship Tirpitz was situated and bombed during WWII. The picture shows where it was placed.
Kafjord where Tirpitz was moored and bombed
The road out the fjord was quite scenic and I pitched up my tent again near the sea for another night of sleep. I was now in pretty good shape. I got a rude awakening the day after...
The morning started with a nice run out the fjord to Toften where the road went up a hill and over 90 degrees to left in another fjord called Langfjorden. The picture below is from this hill.
The Langfjorden from Toften
Langfjorden...... It is probably a nice place, but not in a headwind like I got. The wind was very hard and I was suffering along this 50 km long fjord. Yes, the fjord deserves it's name. The end of the fjord was very scenic. This picture proves my point.
Langfjorden at Langfjord. I was glad to finish that fjord !
A small hill followed and I left the Finnmark county. This is the biggest county in Norway. I then entered a new fjord called Burfjord. The road took me in to Burfjord and the Badderen mountain-pass at 270 meters above sea level. The climb was pretty hard and it was followed by a descent down to the famous Kvenangen fjord. This is another mythical place and the start of the climb to the highest mountain-pass on the route; Kvenangsfjellet. During the WWII, hundreds of slave labourers lost their lives building this road and I never forgot that. I pitched up my tent again with a massive view over some fantastic landscape of fjords and mountains. I loved it, although I also appreciated the harshness of the landscape.
My bike on the climb up to Kvenangsfjellet.
I woke up the morning after and completed the climb to the top of this 400 meters above sea level mountain. It was a hard climb in a stunning landscape.
Looking back from the top of Kvenangsfjellet.
From the top of Kvenangsfjellet towards north-west.
But I felt great after a night of good sleep so I was fine with that.
The road fell vertically down to the sea after Kvenangen to another fjord which I followed for some km before I entered another fjord. From the end of that fjord, a small climb took me over to Nordreisa and the flat river delta around that place. I was hungry so I had a good lunch there. Nordreisa is a big village with all kinds of amenities in this region. It is between the two big cities Alta and Tromso so it is an important place.
I cracked on again out a small fjord, past an airport and up a very steep climb to a 230 meters high mountain-pass. The views from the top of that pass was stunning. The views just after the mountain-pass towards Lyngsalpene was even more stunning.
Looking towards Lyngen and Lyngsalpene.
It was one of those moments I will remember to the end of my life. The sun, the fjord and the mountains.......... Stunningly beautiful ! It was worthy the whole trip and all the hardship.
I was soon down at the fjord and I followed Rotsundet for ten km. I came across the old and the new way of dealing with fish in this area.
Rotsundet with salmon farm and dried fish.
The scenery was fantastic and it became even better when entering Lyngenfjorden proper at Djupvik.
Djupvik at Lyngsfjorden with Lyngsalpene in the background.
This is one of the most beautiful fjords in Norway. It has some fantastic mountains called Lyngsalpene. These mountains are almost 2000 meters high and rises directly up from the fjord at sea level. I looked at them and the fjord in stunned disbelief. This area was one of the main reasons of doing this tour, but not even in my wildest fantasy did I believe they were that beautiful.
The road followed Lyngsfjorden towards south. I had a nasty climb over to Olderdalen and the ferry. It was starting to get late and I was afraid that I would not reach the last ferry of the day. I did not have to worry. I had plenty of time to spare.
Olderdalen with Lyngsfjorden in the background
That 40 minutes long ferry took me over Lyngsfjorden and to Lyngseidet. This is an incredible pretty village. I took the road towards north to get myself a nice tent-site. I found one 2 km outside the village.
Lyngseidet with Kjosen and Lyngsalpene in the background
After a good night sleep, I went back to Lyngseidet for some food. This was a designated fishing and rest day. Another one of my stupid ideas. Anyway, the road went over a small climb and down to the Kjosen fjord. This fjord and road is ravaged by avalanches both summer and winter. I am used to avalanches and I did not like what I saw. Even at midsummer, those mountains did not seem safe. I still did some fishing there without catching anything. I was taking it easy and I soon reached the ferry at Svensby. I stayed over there for some hours and did some fishing without catching anything. I then took the half an hour ferry crossing across Ullsfjorden to Breivikeidet.
On the ferry looking back towards Svensby and Lyngsalpene
I arrived at Breivikeidet and the beginning of a 30 km long valley, taking me over towards Tromso. I stopped halfway up the valley just before some climbs to pitch up a tent for the night. I had a good night sleep.
The following day was rainy. I cracked on up the climbs and down again to the fjord at Fagernes. I here did a small detour (50 km) to Tromso, the capitol of Northern Norway. The road was busy along the fjord, over a small climb and down towards the stunningly beautiful bridge at Tromso. The landscape was stunning too. Tromso is the most beautiful city in Norway. The scenery around it is just stunning and the city itself is very good. I like it.
Tromso during winter
Unfortunate, it was raining and the rain became quite heavy on the way back from Tromso to Fagernes again. I passed Fagernes on my way down towards Nordkjosbotn. After passing the fjord, the road went up a small climb to a valley. I pitched up my tent in driving rain and cold shivers. I was wet to the skin. Not a nice experience.
The overloaded bike finally gave up the fight the morning after at Laksvatn. I had to hike and take a bus for the rest of the tour back to my military garrison. That was the end of this tour for me.
This was my first really big tour and I learnt a lot from it. I had far too much baggage on the tour and that destroyed a good bike. This also meant I was painfully slow at times. 80 km a day is not good and I have never been that slow again on the subsequent tours. I also did some tactical errors during the planning and the tour. I have highlighted them during this report. The idea of a rest day with some fishing is not something I recommend. A heavy rucksack is also a big no. I did use a medium size rucksack again this year on my Islay tour. But that was still very small compared to the giant rucksack I used on the North Cape tour. I also learnt a lot about myself during this tour. I learnt tactics and how to survive 16 hours a day a bike. I put all these lessons to good use on the following big tour the year after. I did all the right things on that and other tours.
I wish I now could do North Cape tour again. Mostly because I have learnt the lessons and because this is the most beautiful tour in Norway. The landscape is stunning and the cycling is relative easy compared to the rest of Norway. I would compare the cycling to Scotland. There is no big mountains. The fjords are a bit iffy in headwind, but still OK. The best parts of the tour = some of the best parts of Norway. The likes of North Cape, Honningsvaag, Porsangen, Hammerfest, Lyngen and Tromso.
The traffic and the roads is OK. The ferry between Honningsvaag and Kaafjord has been replaced with a long tunnel. But I guess a bus will do the business. Besides of that; there is no reasons to not do this tour......... besides of the costs to get to North Cape from the rest of the world. Which makes this a very expensive tour.
Please get in touch if you are planning to do this tour or parts of this tour.