Winter camping in Norway
Her går vi! Let's go!
Off to the far north, where auroras, reindeer, sea animals and breathtaking landscapes await us. But before we head north, we first have to drive to the south of Germany. First destination: Bad Waldsee, where we pick up our home for the next 4 weeks at Hymer. Temporarily in the CONVARY team is now the Hymer Modern Comfort T 680.
On the same day we head straight back to the Ruhr area. After we have packed our motorhome and the last details for all cooperations are clarified, our journey begins.
In the next four weeks there are over 8000 km at least as many photos & videos, 6 cooperations, incredibly beautiful landscapes and some surprises ahead of us.
After a couple of weeks before we were able to tweak on our camping skills during a short Tuscany shootingtrip, nothing can go wrong on this trip either. Or could it?
Traveling with a camper offers us some advantages that make our work much easier. For example, we have enough storage space in our vehicle to carry all the products we shoot for our cooperation partners. There is also room for a bunch of camera equipment, decoration, a food supply for 4 weeks as well as outdoor equipment in the huge rear garage.
The best thing about this way of traveling is that we are largely independent and can flexibly adapt the trip to the weather or customer needs.
So our trip is characterized by spontaneity, freedom and flexibility and offers us the unique opportunity to always find the perfect place to shoot.
The first stages
It is especially important for us to travel as independently as possible and there it plays a big role if you depend on campsites or not. Since our vehicle does not have an inverter installed due to the 3.5 ton limit, the power supply turns out to be a bit difficult for us. For private trips this is certainly no problem, but for us it is a big challenge, because equipment and laptops have to be charged and ready for use at all times. Therefore, we got a special cooperation partner for the trip into the motorhome in advance: Instagrid
The company has given us a prototype of its power station for our trip. This large ,,Powerbank” helped us a lot, because thus we had up to 5 days no problem with our power supply and were able to avoid campsites as far as possible.
After the morning cup of coffee and a little walk, we continue towards the capital. Oslo is a beautiful modern city and a really great start for our Norway trip. Unfortunately, we only have time for a short stop to look around the city for a few hours. Next time, we definitely plan more time though!
Since we visit the city on a Sunday, the search for a parking space turns out to be difficult, but not impossible. So we parked directly near the railroad line 12, which connects the main sights of Oslo.
Tip: If the weather cooperates, explore the town best on foot! Oslo is smaller than most metropolises, so you can comfortably walk around all the sights. As long as you follow the tracks of line 12, you can easily explore without getting lost.
So we just stroll along the tracks to the waterfront. There are great restaurants and cafes everywhere, as well as numerous boutiques with invitingly decorated shop windows. You can talk of luck that Sunday is, because otherwise I would probably have bought one or the other souvenir of Oslo.
Even if we share the same opinion most of the time, Ron & I don’t agree on the opera and its architecture. Ron says concrete box, I say art. However, since we are both big Christopher Nolan fans and his last film Tenet was shot here, Ron can still find something good about this place. Back to the architecture: The opera was designed by the famous architectural firm Snøhetta, from them we will visit another building on our trip.
Directly opposite the opera is the street food and culture market SALT, which looks beautiful, but unfortunately is mostly closed. Since it is already early in the evening, our appetite announces itself and this drives us slowly back towards the camper. We decide to have dinner in one of the many small restaurants we noticed on our way through town. The decision finally falls on a small, but very stylishly furnished Indian called “Listen to Baljid”. The food was delicious, but also about three times as expensive as a good Indian restaurant in Germany. Welcome to expensive Scandinavia! Good thing that in our camper a well-equipped kitchen is waiting to be used by us for the next weeks.
The word “spontaneous” determines our entire route so far! Since we decided that we would like to see musk ox in the wild, we change the route once again and drive to the Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park. Unfortunately, after a few hours of driving, we arrive there late in the afternoon, so there is not too much time before dusk. Despite the lack of time, the small detour has already been more than worth it, because the view of the landscape of Dovrefjell National Park is breathtaking. The landscape is icy and there is already a very thin layer of snow. However, this is not enough to completely cover plants and moss, which makes the landscape look barren and colorful at the same time.
We used the first hour to take pictures of our vehicle and the outstanding landscape. We quickly realize that we probably won’t have enough time to observe musk ox, instead we have planned a short hike to the viewpoint Snøhetta.
Note: This was designed by the same architectural firm as Oslo’s opera house and named after the 2,286 m high mountain Snøhetta. The entire lounge is formative of the history of the architectural firm, which also named itself the same.
I decide to style myself quickly in the bathroom, open the rear garage and take a few outfits from the cooperation cute stuff with me on the hike. It is already very practical to have a well-equipped bathroom with you when it comes to dress fast for a shoot.
Finally we start our short hike towards Snøhetta. On the way we admire the mountains and the view again and again. Except for two other hikers, we see no one the whole way. Finally arrived at the Snøhetta, we unfortunately find out that it is closed due to Corona. So I have no choice than changing my outfits outside in the cold. As well-rehearsed as Ron and I are, we luckily have the pictures quickly in the box and I can get back into my warm winter jacket.
Back at the car, it’s already dawn and we start looking for a place to sleep. On park4night, we see a great place to stay on a nearby mountain.
Tip: On park4night you will sometimes find roads that belong to private citizens and where you have to pay a few crowns at a barrier to drive on them. These roads are less frequented especially in the high season and offer quiet parking spaces far away from busy main roads and in the middle of nature.
Passing this private little road turns out to be difficult due to the snow and icy conditions… so we manage to get stuck unhappily right next to a slope on the second evening. Since it is already dark, it is difficult for us to estimate how far away the slope is. With a bit of patience we fortunately manage to park in such a way that we can stand safely for the night. The next morning the snow is thawing a bit and doesn’t cause us any problems anymore. We use the day to cover some distance. What is really difficult in Norway: photo spots, waterfalls and incredible landscapes are waiting at every corner, so we have to stop constantly.
Formofossen & Laksforsen
On our way we accidentally pass two waterfalls, which are exactly on our route. The weather is quite gray and it is raining lightly when we arrive at the small forest parking lot of Formofossen. This stop wasn’t really planned, but since we want to stretch our legs anyway, we decide to walk a bit along the river and watch the water masses tumbling past us into the depths. The waterfall with its dark masses of water is not a classic beauty, but it fits perfectly with the weather and has a very special, almost mystical effect. On our approach here we pass a small bridge, which is also visible from the shore. After our walk, we decide at short notice to park the Hymer on this bridge and take photos from the shore.
We stand on the bridge for over two hours and the resulting pictures immediately belong to our favorite photos.
Back in the warm vehicle, we continue to watch the rushing water masses with a cup of tea in peace. Fortunately, probably no one will pass here on this day anyway, so we can take all the time in the world.
Already the next morning, only three hours away from Formofossen, we reach Laksforsen. This waterfall is the most water-rich waterfall in Europe, with its average water volume being around 700 m³/s. Although it is relatively small with 17 m height, the water masses cause quite a noise. We make only a short stop and use our time here to have a pleasant breakfast with a view of the waterfall before hitting the road again.
We discover our next stop on the route more or less by accident: Even though we would have surely passed the Arctic Circle Center via the E6 heading north, we are always happy about suddenly appearing travel highlights!
Unfortunately, a big snowdrift blocks our way to the center. The center is closed anyway, but the whole national park around it is gorgeous. Everything is snow-covered and the small rivers and brooks, which meander beside the road, shine turquoise and form a great contrast to the white snow landscape.
Although we are on the main road, we are quite alone on the track. When we find behind a bridge a place to sleep with a small fireplace, we do not hesitate long and decide to spend the night here. Since during the day already nothing was going on here, we should not get any problem with street noise at night.
In the early evening we make a campfire and enjoy the view of the river. We still use the moment and the extraordinary parking lot to create a few photos for our partner Hymer.
Travel- & Shootingday
The next morning we continue towards Lofoten. We have bright blue skies and really great weather. We drive past mountains, canyons and lakes, which we use again and again for short photo stops. Today is our main shooting day planned for cute stuff and as always we just have to follow our travel route to combine the most beautiful locations, snow, sun, mountains and colorful cashmere pieces. Our pictures will be as diverse as our travel destination.
On our way is also a small harbor, where a nice Norwegian gives us permission to shoot. Norwegians always seem a bit reserved at first, but as soon as the first words are exchanged, everyone is always helpful, interested and friendly to us without exception!
In the further course of the day we realize that unfortunately we can’t count on snow on the Lofoten Islands, although we urgently needed it for a big Christmas shoot. We are quite dependent on the weather, which in Norway is probably both a curse and a blessing. Sometimes you drive through snowy landscapes and not half an hour later you are standing on a green meadow in the sun. But in our case, unfortunately, the weather forecast looks really bad. Rain, rain, rain is the forecast. So we decide to change our route again.
On the second largest island of Norway, Ms. Holle has more to offer for us snow-technically, so we make our way to Senja.
A small highlight, which reminds us very much of Sunday trips in our childhood, is the trip to the polar park. Again by chance we pass a sign on the road and follow it.
Tip: On your Norway trip, be sure to follow the signs for places of interest if you have a free day or some time left. Every time we dared to take a detour, we were rewarded with waterfalls, museums, or as in this case, a wildlife center.
Arctic animals live here in large enclosures. The entire park is built into a forest. Although there are only a few large enclosures, it takes about 2 hours to walk through it. The animals live in their natural habitat. What pleases us the most: The animals are visibly doing well! We spend the whole morning in the park and look at polar foxes, musk ox (yay, we saw some after all) and moose. Reindeer run here freely around the park, because these are semi-tame pets in the north.
Tip: If you’ve always wanted pictures with Rudolf, you’ve come to the right place! We used the reindeer herd to create a few Christmas pictures for our client Gobi Cashmere. For photographers, there are also other tours and offers in consultation with the park.
Especially long we watch two bear kids, which were born here, playing. It is wonderful to see how little these animals are distracted by us. Normally, I would not recommend a visit to the zoo to anyone, but if you want to learn more about arctic inhabitants and end up here by chance, you can visit this great park with a clear conscience.
That same afternoon we take the ferry to Senja. The island welcomes us in wintry garb, just as we had wished. Everything is icy and already slightly snowy and during the night there should be even more snow. The place where we spend the night is just passable without snow chains. Since we have all-weather tires, snow is usually our final enemy when it comes to finding a parking spot for the night. As long as you stay on the well cleared roads and don’t have to use smaller forest roads to get to your destination, everything works out fine most of the time. However, if we then drive onto snow-covered parking bays, it can sometimes happen that the tires spin, we slide to the side or can only free ourselves with the shovel.
The scenery on Senja is truly breathtaking! Snowy mountains next to crystal blue water and snow right on the beach. A sight you can’t get enough of. Whenever we think we have found the perfect postcard view, around the next corner there is an even more fascinating mountain range or an even more beautiful beach.
Since the days here are pretty short and we can’t lose focus of our shooting mission, we postpone our planned hike until the next trip to Norway and decide to do our Christmas shooting for Gobi Cashmere the next day.
We randomly find a small barbecue hut on the side of the road, which we can use well for the shooting. Finally the day has come for which it was worthwhile to drive all our Christmas decorations through the area. Ron gets the cameras ready and whips up a delicious breakfast while I decorate the cabin.
RIP: At this point we briefly remember the many Christmas balls that were broken during this shoot! 😀
As an exception, Ron also has to be in front of the camera today as a model and I take over the job as photographer for a few shots – role reversal and full commitment for our partner!
We spend the whole day with the implementation of the shooting and are exhausted and frozen through towards the end of the day.
The final result is impressive and shines a few weeks later at Christmas time on 52 Citylights in Berlins and Hamburg.
This project has been a good test for us and showed again how you can combine traveling and working! Sometimes you have to leave your comfort zone for the best result, even if Ron will never become a model voluntarily…
We are still rewarded in the evening when we are allowed to marvel at the northern lights from our bed for the first time. As we already lie late in the evening in the big double bed of our Hymer, we see the northern lights dancing. Not a minute passes and we jump out of bed, get dressed and run outside. The veils in the sky shine only weakly, there were too many lanterns around us. Although Senja is not heavily populated, we have the misfortune to be standing in a relatively bright place. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful night and an extraordinary experience to see northern lights.
The time on Senja passes insanely fast and so we have only one day left on the island. So we have to decide for one of the many sights and choose one of the most famous beaches to spend the night. We park right on the water near small red garages. When we meet the Norwegian who owns the little houses, he spoke almost no English, but signals us that we may sleep there. The weather is a mixture of snow and sleet, only towards afternoon it gets colder and it starts to snow thick flakes. The sight of a snow-covered beach in the middle of a stunning mountain formation is really not ordinary and is perfect for a few shots.
Ersfjord Beach is definitely worth a visit for us, even if it’s just for a little beach walk, you have to see this beach. Where else can you go to the toilet so royal as in the golden toilets right on the beach?!
We leave Senja the next morning and make our way to Lofoten. So that we remember the island for a long time, two policemen say goodbye to us with a ticket, because we were 10 km/h too fast on the road. This violation costs us 2,200 kroner (220 euros) and as if that is not bad enough, we also have to drive into a completely snow-covered parking bay. Ron tries to explain to the policemen that this is not such a good idea, but in vain, we have to get off the road. The end of the story? Two Norwegian policemen push a stuck motorhome with all their might back on the road, for the price probably the least… a bit annoyed we continue towards Lofoten and decide to use the day only to fill up our gas and find a place to sleep.
Tip: Inform yourself before traveling with the motorhome about the gas supply and plan especially in winter regular stops to fill up the gas! Click here for the directory of all gas stations.
The gas stations here are a bit tricky: There are no suitable bottles in Norway for German connections, so you need LPG stations where German bottles can be filled. We have 2 x 11 liter gas bottles on board and have managed with both bottles about 9 days. Surely you can manage even longer with the gas if the temperatures are warmer or you turn your vehicle into an ice palace.
If you are well prepared, it is best to plan your route so that you fill up the empty bottle every 6 days to be on the safe side, because sometimes the stations are far apart. Today we are lucky, because the next station is more or less on our route.
We leave Senja the next morning and make our way to Lofoten. To make sure that we remember the island for a long time, two policemen bid us farewell with a ticket because we were 10 km/h too fast on the road. This violation costs us 2,200 kroner (220 euros) and as if that is not bad enough, we have to drive into a completely snow-covered parking bay. Ron tries to explain to the policemen that this is not such a good idea, but in vain, we have to get off the road. The end of the story? Two Norwegian policemen push a stuck motorhome with all their might back on the road, for the price probably the least… a bit annoyed we continue towards Lofoten and decide to use the day only to fill our gas and find a place to sleep.
Tip: Inform yourself before traveling with the motorhome about the gas supply and plan especially in winter regular stops to fill up the gas! Click here for the directory of all gas stations.
The gas stations here are a bit tricky: There are no suitable bottles in Norway for German connections, so you need LPG stations where German bottles can be filled. We have 2 x 11 liter gas bottles on board and have managed with both bottles about 9 days. Surely you can get along even longer with the gas if the temperatures are milder or you turn your vehicle into an ice palace.
If you are well prepared, it is best to plan your route so that you fill up the empty bottle about every 6 days to be on the safe side, because sometimes the stations are far apart. Today we are lucky, because the next station is more or less on our route.
We arrive in the rain, but this does not detract from the beauty of the beach, which is simply next to the road. Colorful shells and sea urchin shells lie everywhere on the snow-white sand and the color of the water is milky blue. The drive continues and we can’t get out of our amazement as we cross gigantic bridges and enjoy the view of snowy mountains and the sea.
Our first night in Lofoten we spend in Møysalen National Park, actually our plan was to go further, but we like the place so much that we decide to stay. What is not surprising with this view!
Gimsoya & Hov Gård
A highlight of the next day is the perfect weather! We use the whole day to drive over the Lofoten and just let the landscape work its magic on us. In the late afternoon we experience a picture-perfect golden hour and the landscape almost looks like the savannah in Africa.
Since our Instagrid needs to be charged, we rely on a campsite for the last time today. We decide for the campsite Hov Gård which is located in the north of the Lofoten. This belongs to a restaurant and a horse farm and is beautifully located directly on the beach. Since we are allowed to charge our batteries in the restaurant, we are not dependent on electricity at the place and can put us in the first row directly on the beach. Long live the low season, because we are alone as always and share the sea view only with the small sauna, which is on the square next to us.
By the way, if I had put on a bikini here, everyone would have had no problem believing that we had jetted off to the Seychelles or Australia. White fine sand, sea urchin shells and mussels, crystal clear turquoise water and small rock formations jutting out of the water – not many luxury hotels can compete with this location! To spend the night in such a beautiful place and to enjoy the first coffee in bed in the morning with such a view is still something very special, even after three weeks of enchanting landscapes.
At the end of the day we take a short walk on the beach and decide to cook something delicious in the evening.
The next day we take a relaxed approach. On our drive towards Nusfjord we pass a café and are tempted by a sign with freshly baked cinnamon rolls. It feels good to just relax, sit and do nothing. At noon, after a few photo stops, we arrive in Nusfjord and are immediately in love with it!
Time must have stopped here about 50 years ago. The red and yellow fishermen’s cottages have been completely preserved from the outside, but from the inside they have been converted into a resort. In addition, some cottages have been converted into a museum tour. You can visit them independently in a tour to get even more acquainted with the traditional fishing village and the former way of life of the people. Although the core of the village has been converted into a resort, there is still nothing going on and we walk alone through the sugar-sweet village.
On the waterfront we find in one of the few stone cottages the small pizzeria Oriana Kro with about 4 tables. The ambience is rustic thanks to natural stone walls and a ship’s statue on the counter, but cozy and because the pizza is supposed to be fantastic, we do not hesitate for once even at 230 cones (23 euros) per pizza. We sit for a while in the small restaurant and decide to spend the night near the village to spend another day here tomorrow.
Outside it is already dawn when we leave the pizzeria. We stroll a bit through the drizzle and decide to reserve a table at the Karolina restaurant for the evening. Like the pizzeria, this also belongs to the resort and makes a really great impression. The ambience is a bit more refined than in the pizzeria, but just as cozy. We decide to come back in the evening and freshen up first in the camper.
We stand above the village on a parking lot, from where you have everything in view. It’s a pity that we can not camp here… or can we? A sign with camping prohibited is unfortunately on the parking lot, but since everything here belongs to the resort, we decide to ask if we can stay overnight for one night on the upper parking lot. The concierge of the resort is extremely friendly and immediately allows us to spend the night there. He tells me that there is a big problem with parking spaces and tourists in the summer and only therefore the sign was put up. So it’s good that we are on the road at the absolute off-season.
Tip: Basically, we would recommend you to ask locals at any time of the year if you are not sure if staying overnight is allowed. In our case, it was certainly helpful that we had already made a reservation for the pizzeria and the restaurant.
After a really delicious dinner, we excitedly check our Aurora app. Today, the chance for auroras is good despite heavy cloud cover, as the activity is at 8. We are lucky and even though we have to wait for gaps in the clouds again and again, we see green and even pink northern lights dancing in the sky. In the wildest formations these move over our heads. We spend a few hours outside in the parking lot with a view over the village below us, the mountains, the sea and northern lights, until we are so tired that it is really time for bed. We also spend the next day in Nusfjord. One half to eat waffles in the country store and the other to shoot in the village and create some outdoor shots for Hymer.
There are things that you simply must have experienced in Lofoten! For example, the hike to Kvalvika Beach. Already our approach to the hike could not have been more beautiful. We drive over huge bridges, which are reminiscent of the Atlantic Road and are as always impressed by the landscape. The water is crystal clear here as everywhere on the Lofoten. We really have to pull ourselves together not to waste too much time on drone shots and photo stops.
Our destination for the day is one of the few hikes we have time for on this trip. This one is not particularly long, but due to the difficult trail conditions it is quite challenging! Who is accustomed to well-marked and especially freely cleared paths, comes here easily sweat. But you will be rewarded with fantastic views of the mountains and the sea. As always, we have the good fortune to hike alone.
Before the hike, we take a little detour to a post office to pick up a package from CosNature. The products literally scream to be shot here. And so we photograph the first products already before we have reached the beach:
A special feature of Kvalvika Beach is that you can only reach it on foot or by water. So we hike further down to the beach, as do two surfers who built a hut there years ago to spend the winter months in. The hut is well hidden and it takes us some time to find it. Inside hides a hodgepodge of letters, sleeping mats, hiking boots, cutlery and colorful junk. Anyone who wants can spend the night in the hut. We could have passed the time here for hours, there is so much to discover.
The beach is deserted in front of us and we pause for a moment before heading back. In our minds we are already planning a shooting trip in the summer, until we realize that we are probably not alone on this dream beach in the summer months.
A disadvantage of winter time is of course that the sun sets early and the days always end much too quickly, even with a lot of planning. The sunsets that you experience at this time of year are all the more beautiful for it!
Reine & Hamnoy
The last day in Lofoten has come faster than we like. We decide to use it to see the villages of Reine and Hamnoy and to drive the remaining distance to Reine, where our ferry leaves the next morning.
We are just before the village of Hamnoy when Ron notices some vehicles on the side of the road. This is directly a warning signal, because on our whole trip we have never seen more than one vehicle in a parking bay.
What we then get to see really exceeds all expectations. In the water right next to the road a group of orcas is cavorting. We immediately drive to one of the parking bays. Hard to believe, it was the last day on the Lofoten and completely without having planned something special, we get such an animal highlight in front of our lens. While one must hold out for hours on cold, rocking boats with the usual Whalewatching routes, only around whales briefly to observe to be able, we had on this day enormous luck and could observe the animals comfortably from the living room.
Time to say Goodbye...
It’s 7 a.m. and our ferry departs. We are heading for a blood-red sunrise and the mainland. From now on, our primary goal is to cover distance. Since we just don’t have enough time and the return of our Hymer is pending, we decide to drive to Bergen and from there take the ferry back to Hirtshals. There are only a few days left in Norway and we decide to take the direct route to Bergen. On this route we find two more top places to spend the night and spend the last evening at one of the most beautiful places of our trip at the campfire.
The ferry from Bergen to Hirtshals is a small cruise over 18 hours of driving. There are restaurants, boutiques, a casino, a bar and a duty free area. Kind of strange after weeks of solitude to be back in a place with so many people who seem to use this crossing for nothing but immoderate alcohol consumption.
One last tip: Take advantage of happy hour for the first two hours of driving!
Already after dinner, when we leave the fjords and sail out to the open sea, our stomachs turn, a restless night follows and we are very happy to finally have solid ground under our feet again the next morning.
Our Norway trip is drawing to a close and we are still overwhelmed by all the impressions and the many experiences we have had. Even before we drive our Hymer into the parking lot in Bad Waldsee, we have already decided on our next destination: Scotland in April!
So look forward to hearing what we have to report by then… we can reveal one thing in advance: For the next home on four wheels Ron needs his truck driver’s license.
Finally, we would like to thank all our cooperation partners! Without you this trip would not have been possible. We are looking forward to our future projects with you!
Ron & Elisa aka CONVARY
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