As we struggle to find safe places to travel to in the ongoing aftermath of the initial Covid-19 outbreak, Cassam Looch speaks to one travel photographer who found exactly what he was looking for on a recent getaway to Norway.
Oli Riley (https://olirileyphotography.com/) has been travelling the world and taking pictures of what he finds for a number of years now. His work has seen him jet off to glamorous locations, from the colourful streets of Cuba to the serene beauty of the Sahara desert.
When Coronavirus first struck, however, Oli’s immediate plans quite literally ground to a halt. Not one to be deterred by such obstacles, and keen to continue exploring and sharing his own experiences, Oli picked out a trip to Norway as soon as it was safe to travel as his next adventure.
Oli gave us 10 reasons why a trip to Norway ahead of the usual winter rush is highly recommended and why you should definitely pack your camera.
The main reason I would say to go to Norway is because Coronavirus isn’t really a thing here. No mask-wearing and no shops closed for the time we were there (in early August). The world felt normal again.
Norway in the sun
With extended daylight hours in the summer months, Norway and the other Nordic countries, have particular lighting at this time of year that makes them perfect for photographers (both amateur and professional). You won’t see the Northern Lights until autumn, but you will be able to seriously up your social media game.
Visiting the spectacular fjords, especially right now because large cruise ships aren’t running, is a must. It has to be one of the most calming and captivating places in the world, it really makes you forget everything else that’s going on elsewhere in the world.
What I found is that the scenery changes so frequently here as you travel that it reminds you of so many different places. In one instant it looks like the mountains of Canada with huge forests surrounding you, the next it reminds you of the more barren hills in Montenegro. Other times it truly is unique with the vast fjords filling the horizon as far as the eye can see.
We were lucky enough to encounter some orca in the North Sea off the coast of Norway on our trip. It was a very rare sighting which made the trip even more special as well as this we saw dolphins, seals and some large sea birds.
As you can imagine with all the open mountains and rolling hills in Norway, the hiking routes are incredible. You’re guaranteed beautiful views, a bit of sunshine and lovely fresh air.
There are so many opportunities to mountain bike in Norway. One great ride being in Flam where you also get the famous Flam railway, which is said to be one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. You take this route up the mountain taking in all the incredible scenery and breathtaking waterfalls to then get to the top of the mountain and ride back down past all the scenery again.
From the relative warmth of 20 degrees heat down at the fjord, all you have to do is get a taxi up the mountain for 20 minutes and you will find yourself in a glacial ski resort. A great example of this is Fonna Ski resort, where they can only operate for a few months in the year because when the snow comes it completely covers the ski lifts. That’s right, sometimes you can have too much snow to ski!
You can also take trips up the glacier, equipped with crampons, cleats and ropes. We took a guided tour up the glacier for a 6-hour hike with the most incredible views Norway has to offer as the reward at the end of the challenging ascent.
You can visit the Viking village Njardarheimr, where they take you through the ways of the Vikings and how they lived. You’ll also be able to correct some of Hollywood’s best depictions of Vikings… like the fact that they didn’t have horns on their helmets!
You can follow more of Oli Riley’s adventures on his instagram (https://www.instagram.com/olirileyphotography/)