Discovering Norway’s Styggevatnet Glacier by kayak

©Sam John

In the autumn of 2021, after several months of meticulous preparation, Sam (@samjoh.n) and his friend Margot set off on a road-trip to explore the huge and beautiful empty spaces of Northern Europe. Their objective? To reach the legendary Nord Kapp, passing through some of the most amazing Scandinavian fjords and National Parks on their way, before the onset of the winter big freeze. Here’s Sam’s first-hand account of their northern odyssey!

To be able to see and touch the northernmost point in Europe, it started as a dream, then it became a plan. And the plan had just become reality. As a photographer and someone passionate about magnificent natural landscapes as far as the eye can see, the Great North had been on my mind for many years. It’s October, and in this part of the world winter can come knocking at the door at any moment. Our challenge was very clear: to make it to this symbolic location BEFORE the snow did, with the risk of all roads being cut-off if we didn’t.   

We’ve been on the road for a month ; currently crossing the fiords of southern Norway, already 2500km from our home in the south of France. There are two ways to cross a Norwegian fiord: on the water on a ferry, or under the water in some very long tunnels.

Given its special geography, the roads that wind their way through this amazing countryside are a paradise for photography. It’s our daily ritual, pack up the van after breakfast and get back on the road, excited to see what we’ll find over the next mountain pass : plateau or fiord? Every day is an adventure.

The further we advance up the country, the more we notice how water is absolutely everywhere here, in all its forms. Immense glacial valleys formed millions of years ago have been filled by sea inlets hundreds of kilometres in length stretching deep into the interior. These are the fiords. It’s a place that isn’t easy to get around ! And that makes it even more magical.. 

As we drive along Route 55, well-known for its spectacular views, we’re looking for a lake where we can finally get out in our Breeze Full HP2 inflatable kayak. But not just any old lake.

The  Jostedalbreen National Park, in the western fiords, is filled with incredibly beautiful glaciers, dressing the mountain tops like balls of half-melted ice cream sliding into the valleys below.

One morning in the van, checking the map for the millionth time, we spot a lake that seems to have exactly the things we were looking for.

Access for the van, a small beach where we could launch the kayak, but most of all, an incredible glacier to check out!

Welcome to the unbelievably impressive Lake Styggevatnet!

Here we go, we launch the kayak, there’s some low fog covering part of the lake, it’s an incredible ambience. In the distance, we can  see the Styggevatnet glacier.

A few seconds to get our paddles synched, then we’re away, gliding across the turquoise water in almost total silence. Actually, there was a strong wind blowing, and we had to negotiate some strong lateral waves. No problem, our Breeze Full HP2 keeps us easily on our chosen course, towards the glacier. It’s hard to describe our feelings at that moment. 

After 30 minutes steady paddling, we finally arrive in front of the colossal glacier. It’s there, right in front of us, and its front edge, carved up by frozen ripples, waves and deep vertical crevasses is totally fascinating.

We decide to beach the kayak on a small rock outcrop in the lake, from where we can take in the full majesty of this incredible frozen sea of ice. We’d already heard that you shouldn’t get too close to a glacier, big lumps break off the leading edge fairly often causing potentially dangerous waves and situations.

Mission accomplished ! We’ve managed to get as close up and personal as it’s safe to with one of this amazing country’s most beautiful glaciers. Something we could never have achieved without our trusty TAHE Breeze Full HP2 kayak, which has always made us feel totally safe and secure in any and every situation we’ve found ourselves. An experience on the water like no other we’ve ever had. Adventure over, it’s time to get back in the van, we’ve still got a long way to go to Nord Kapp, and some unforgettable memories to take with us…