Exploring the lakes of Fjorda - a pleasant surprise!
There are plenty of "undiscovered" territories when it comes to canoeing in the southeastern part of Norway. Fjorda is not one of them. The many interconnected lakes located on the hills west of Randsfjorden, about 60 km in a straight line north of Oslo is a popular spot for canoe-paddlers. In the high season, I was told by friends, it could be rather crowded up there. The concept of Oslo Outdoor's tours is to bring our guest to wilderness areas away from the crowds. That's the kind of areas we are looking for when we explore possible new destinations. Thus, I was rather sceptical as I started on the 90 minutes drive from my home to the starting point at Vestland in the northwestern corner of the lakes system at Fjorda.
Even if I had chosen mid-September for my tour, my scepticism grew as I parked my car and could observe at least 20 other paddlers ready to launch their canoes. Families, tourists and groups of friends. The wind was quite strong that day so many struggled to paddle out of the little bay from where the canoes were launched. Hmm...for a moment I considered to continue further north to another lake area waiting to be explored, but eventually I assembled my Ally and took the first strokes out of the bay.
Am I glad I did! After 20 minutes of paddling the crowd was gone! There was not one paddler to be seen. And for the remaining two days I met only a few other paddlers. Ludo, my dog, and me had all these beautiful lakes, channels and small islets practically for ourselves.
It was getting late so I found a nice place for my tent less than an hour away from the parking lot. That great feeling of being "out there", the feeling of tranquility I only get when I am in the wilderness was already getting into my bones and I was thrilled by the tought of spending the next two days in this area.
The next morning I paddled south and was stunned by the beauty of this place. The water was flat and the many small islets and channels made the paddling even more exciting. At one point I passed a ready-made camping site with toilets and designated fire-places. And quite a lot of people. So this is where the crowd had gone. They waived, I waived back and continued further south through a narrow channel that took me to Haukfjorden, the southernmost lake in the Fjorda area.
After checking out several islets and possible sites to bring guests I set up my tent on a small island in Haukfjorden and took a hike to lake Bjørnsjøen further south where there is an old cabin used by the resistance movement during World War 2. The next morning the sun was shining and I had a long, lazy breakfast with a good book before I packed my stuff and started my paddling for the day.
A rather long stretch awaited on my the last day in Fjorda. I paddled to the northermost part of the lake-system, to the small settlement of Kleiva. From there I walked to where I had parked my car before I packed my stuff and headed home. I was very pleasently surprised by what Fjorda had to offer. Despite being a popular place I'd had the lakes almost to myself.
Although small cabins and an occasional paddler reminded me that I was close to civilization I found that genuine feeling of wilderness in Fjorda. It is certainly a place to return to for further exploration. Fjorda will satisfy both the experienced canoer and beginners alike. It is an area that is easy to paddle with no rivers or rapids. The many straits and narrow channels will trigger the explorer-gene in children as well as adults. I would, however recommend to avoid the high season and go in May, September or October. You will not regret it. I certainly did not.