The sea has been beating against this lump of rock for thousands of years, shaping it into the mushroom-like appearance it bestows today. It was utterly sublime, one of the most ravishing rocks I’ve ever seen.
Right on the edge of the Finnish Russian border, Karhu-Kuusamo Oy comprises a couple that offers bear watching out of a place called Kuusamo, the northernmost part of Finland. Protected from hunting, a magnificent number of brown bears dwell in the forest at Kuntilampi. Incredible – who knew these beasts resided on the continent?
“Get a load of that – that’s it!” I barked above the roar of blessed tourists in all shapes, sizes and ages. Best as I tried to blot them out, I zoned in on the thinning blade of rock jutting out over Hardangerfjord. It’s a sight, alright. Perhaps one of the most spectacular Norwegian destinations hiked to date, the trek to reach it was a challenging 15.3-miles long.
Situated west of Møsvatn, we hiked the hillside draped in a green crushed velvet throw of forest and waterfalls on the plateau. To plunge in just our underwear into the gin-clear pool, the water thundering off into infinity behind us, was utterly invigorating. As was losing a layer of suncreamy sweat.
Norway is at least twice the length of the UK but with only 8 per cent of the British population, it boasts more forest than people. The trees are so dense in huge thickets, you’ll think you’re in the Yukon. Fjords, the rain and snowfall of millennia, having helped to create some of the world’s most impressive waterfalls, slice the terrain. I wondered if we should have waited for the shoulder season. Typically, July is when Norwegians take their holiday, which coupled with the month that magnetizes tourists – attracts the international masses on a serious scale.
Time started to slow as we sunk into the Scottish Highlands. Easing our way back into a life on the road after a nearly five-year motorcycle jaunt up the Americas, Etive Road near Glencoe proffered a trusty camping spot in the Scottish Highlands. The onset of summer notwithstanding, Mother Nature had other ideas. Chilly by day, gusting winds and lashings of rain ensued at all hours. The elements hurled down on us, but it was an apt combination to put the rooftop tent through its paces.
Making the jump from two wheels to four was not a decision we entered upon lightly. We purchased a Toyota 4WD, guiding it through its transformation for our current expedition from Northern Norway to South Africa. I’m hoping all our efforts and choices will reap the rewards from Cape to Cape, and that the gear and aspirations on which we’ve loaded up will see us through the next leg of swapping the life conventional for the drive of a lifetime. It’s hard not to grin.