Witnessing the land of the Midnight Sun and seeing Norway’s fjords has been on our bucket list for decades. After multiple emails and several phone calls Jan Sortland put together an itinerary that exceeded our expectations. Our trip involved our own self guided city tours (Oslo and Bergen) along with Jan orchestrating all of the other details (drivers, guides, hotel reservations, intra-country flights, train and ferry reservations, bike and kayak rentals and museum vouchers) for exploring Western Norway and the Lofoten Islands. The result was a stress free, memorable trip. Visiting Western Norway and the Lofoten Islands felt more like a road trip with 2 really smart and funny buddies (our guides) than a “see Norway in 12 days package tour”.
Most travelers return home with souvenirs and laundry, but Jan Sortland created a two week Norwegian holiday where the memories surpass any expectation and will last for generations. Jan’s expertise in genealogy provided my husband with an opportunity to walk on five generations of family farms near Stavanger and thoroughly explore another family’s farm in Vaga. Jan’s connections in Norway were outstanding. Throughout the gorgeous Norwegian landscape, each and every ground person employed (drivers, guides, boat captains, local historians and genealogists) made this journey exceptional. Jan made pre-trip planning easy. Jan made suggestions for excursions that were “outside” the box and suggestions on what to possibly avoid. His best advice was to see the fjords from land-breathtaking! With an expert driver taking care of us, my husband was able to enjoy each and every aspect of the scenery. The trip was remarkable.
Best guides and driver guides
We planned a trip to Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark with Jan. He arranged everything nicely, gave us the best guides, driver and driver guides, advised us on the regional flights, got us the best hotels in the regions, and most amazingly, he dined with us in a 3 Michelin star restaurant in Oslo.
We could not reserve a table for two in the restaurant, but there was a table for three. Jan offered himself to join us for dinner so we could taste that particular restaurant that we wanted to try. It was such an honor to dine with him, a classy knowledgeable guy who is passionate about luxury travel.
Our journey was perfectly arranged and a mixture of adventure and leisure. We hiked, did waterfall hopping, off road and driving on the glacier in Iceland with a huge 4×4 wheel superjeep.
We did an RIB boat, another hike on the glacier (this was our highlight), fjord cruising and viewing in Norway, accompanied by the best driver guide who loves to drive, is very knowledgeable, caring, and a super nice family man. He stuck with us for many days in Norway.
Sweden and Denmark were superb to be accompanied by the best guides, strolling the cities, best museums of our interests, and great restaurant recommendations.
We will be back for the northern lights for sure…
I consider myself quite a savvy traveler. I have traveled extensively and plan most trips myself.
However, when I think the trip may be too complicated to plan on my own, I have availed myself to Wendy’s WOW list.
So when I made the decision to visit Norway and its stunning fjords this May/June, I reached out to Wendy last year and she recommended Jan Sortland.
From the moment I spoke to Jan, I knew that I was in the right hands.
I talked to Jan about what gave me joy on a trip and what I knew I wanted to include based on my initial, but minimal research – Oslo, of course. Bergen, a beautiful little city I had read about. And those world renowned fjords.
But because I really didn’t know enough about the rest of Norway, I didn’t know what else to focus on knowing I was limited to around 10 days and not sure where everything was located.
Also, I had no idea of the cost. It was one of the first things that Jan talked to me about so I could manage expectations. I was immediately struck by his honesty. This wasn’t about making money for Jan. This was Jan wanting to plan a trip that i would be happy with and if i accepted the truths about the costs going into the trip, then we were good. Most of you would not know this, but Norway is not cheap. But, the trip Jan planned for me was worth every penny!
When Jan sent me an idea of an initial itinerary, I was blown away. Not only because it was 5 pages long, but because I didn’t know about 3/4 of the names of the places that he wanted me to visit. As I said previously, I had done a bit of research, but I realized not enough.
So I started looking up each place he listed in his descriptive and colorful plan for me.
And it basically took my breath away. Everything I had talked to him about, all the things I loved, the way I like to travel, the specific kind of room in a specific hotel, he had included in his proposal. But, what really struck
me is that it read like a love poem to Norway.
Clearly, Jan loved his country, its history, and its place in the world. All of that was expressed in his plan for me.
We talked many times over the coming months. Jan was always gracious, kind, understanding, but above all, so knowledgeable about every aspect of the trip, from a town, a fjord, a hotel…even a hotel room!
I knew I had met my travel expert soul mate!
The trip included time in Oslo, Bergen, and Aalesund. And in between, the countryside and of course, the fjords of western Norway. I had read enough at this point to know that Oslo was lovely, both modern and classical, and Bergen was charming and brimming with history, but that was about it. I knew almost nothing about Aalesund, just that it was a pretty city by the sea.
Little did I know that I would be walking into a world of such great beauty, history, charm, and an almost fairytale like quality to each place. And these were just the cities; imagine what happened to my heart when i first set eyes on the fjords, from the road, water, and train.
Jan also included some activities I loved the idea of but wondered if I would be up to the task. Well, thanks to expert guides, I climbed a glacier, rode in an RIB boat, sea kayaked and hiked the glorious countryside.
And everywhere I looked, I saw the glory of a fjord, with the greenest of farmland above it dotted with sheep, goats, and colorful little farmhouses, followed by thick and magnificent forests that went on forever and above the forests, soaring mountains covered with the last bits of spring snow. And this was all in one image!
At. every turn, I was either speechless because my breath had been taken away by the expanse of nature in all its glory or screaming with delight over the sheer indescribable beauty of the place.
Jan had planned a trip for me that went beyond what my minds’ eye fantasy of Norway was.
I have never experienced that kind of trip before
I had never experienced guides so kind, knowledgeable, and my biggest pre-requisite, – a great sense of humor.
I had never experienced such a diverse beautiful, charming, and historical collection of accommodations in equally mind boggling settings.
I had never experienced this kind of natural beauty in my life.
But, more than anything, I had never experienced anyone like Jan Sortland
It was as though he had read my mind, after listening to all my thoughts and wishes for the trip, and taken them and whipped up a recipe of a trip for me that I couldn’t even imagine.
It was that extraordinary.
Thank you Jan. You have now raised the bar for anyone I work with following you.
My only regret, is that you can’t plan all my trips moving forward!
With great admiration and gratitude,
From the very beginning, Jan and his team were responsive and helpful. They tailored our visit to Norway to our specific desires and needs every step of the way. What I like to say is (after nailing down the itinerary unique to us) that we just “showed up” and were taken care of. Since we only had about a week to experience Oslo, Lofoten and Alta, on point logistics were key. Our drivers and guides were always waiting for us upon arrival with a smile and great knowledge of the area. Flight updates (considering the grounding of the Max 8 and potential Norwegian Airlines financial worries) came to us daily. They checked in for us for all flights and boarding passes were waiting in our room the night before our departures. The highlight for us was the day spent dogsledding with our guide Elaine at the Trasti and Trini Lodge with the thrill of meeting the owners’ daughter who had just that day won a major dog sledding event at the young age of 19! And of course, fabulous viewings of the Northern Lights in both Lofoten and Alta. Both of which were bucket list items for years!
I highly recommend Jan and his team. Well worth the expense. It was a memorable trip to a stunningly beautiful country.
From start to finish, Jan and his team were highly attentive and responsive, without being overbearing. They really listened to what we wanted from our trip (e.g., lots of outdoor activities, driving instead of time on a cruise, some guided experiences and time to explore on our own). Their hotel, activity, and dining recommendations were uniformly excellent. We loved our trip and felt like we really got to see parts of Norway that are off the beaten path. It was particularly amazing seeing the landscapes in the fjords and ending our days in tiny hotels and towns that are basically only accessible in summer. Our favorite hotel was the Walaker, where we could really get a sense of the multi-generational family ownership of this quirky, unique hotel while enjoying a cozy room and delicious food. We were there during a heat wave, so we swam in the fjord each day and watched children and adults jump off the (very high) dock. Additional favorite activities included glacier hiking, which neither of us had done before and included crampons and ice axes… and kayaking along the super peaceful, serene fjords. The only challenge was that dining choices were a little limited at the small, remote hotels, but the chefs were able to accommodate dietary restrictions and preferences when asked. This was a great trip for couples or families with easygoing, active children. We look forward to returning to Norway in the future.
Going to Norway in the winter is not for the faint-hearted. I took my brother on a 60th bucket list journey for one week to do things wed never done.
Jan Sortland was an excellent listener and provided such great guidance and advice. We had an amazingly knowledgeable and charming guide during our one day in Oslo. I think that Bergen was eminently missable- we did not find it to be the charming or beautiful city it was described to be, and after our wonderful Oslo guide this one was disappointing and a bit tired.
Going above the Arctic Circle was superb – dog sledding, reindeer racing with the Sami and hunting for the Northern Lights. All great fun.
I would not advise anyone to do 2+ hours of motor scooters over snowy trails – perhaps it was because we were there when the snows were unseasonably deep and the paths were not at all groomed and incredibly bumpy. I just wanted to get out of the whiteout and go have a cup of tea. Instead, I had my arms practically pulled out of my sockets.
And none of this comes at a cheap price so one must think about the events carefully!
As promised, we did see the Northern Lights. Yet I told the company that took us out that our first driver was far superior to the second night out when all we did was sit in one freezing spot for nearly 2 hours for naught. That was not the described “northern light safari” one expected.
By the way, Jan knows his restaurants and menus – his advice in this area was also superb!!
All in all, this was a fantastic and memorable journey.
I am a world traveler with high expectations and, at the end of the day, a very honest and clearly a rather critical reviewer.
We just returned from a trip we planned with Jan Sortland to see the Northern Lights in Alta, Norway and wanted to tell you that he is fantastic! What a pro. Everything was perfect. I highly recommend Jan, and thank you so much for what you do as you made it very easy for us to find him! We saw the Northern Lights 4 nights in a row (unbelievable experience), we dined with one of the world’s great chefs, went dog sledding, snowshoeing, ice fishing, cruising the fjord sand more, and loved every minute of it. Jan was great to work with from start to finish.
It was an excellent Norway trip, and an okay Iceland trip. We should have listened to Jan. The city he recommended—Alta, Norway—was amazing! At first we were not sure, since we never heard about it, but it became the highlight of our trip! We insisted on going to Iceland too, even though Jan warned us of possible disappointments. It turns out Iceland is way below Alta standards. Alta has the best food (thanks to the chef), and also fun and private activities!
I keep thinking that I will find the time to describe just how responsive Jan Sortland was and that he planned an excellent and flawless trip for us. Suffice it to say, I would recommend him unequivocally. And I will use your organization again based on the experience with Sortland.
Many thanks for the referral.
The trip went smoothly. The guides were excellent, very knowledgeable and courteous. They spoke English perfectly. The travel agent was able to find for us two tickets for the opera house for a sold out performance. Amazing!
March 2016. Just returned today from Norway. This was our first trip to Norway. We left the planning and recommendations to Jan Sortland of Norwegian Adventures. Our trip was predicated on attempting to view the Northern Lights. Jan recommended Alta Norway as the best place to view the lights. He was an absolute pleasure to work with. His communications were timely and his attention to details was fantastic. He made many recommendations to us about activities while we were in Alta. These included dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing, hiking and of course Northern Lights “safaris”. He also arranged for a private experience in meeting Sami tribal people and learning about their culture with reindeer sledding. Everything worked to perfection and there were no hiccups in any of the details. Fantastic vacation and dealing with a fantastic travel specialist in Jan Sortland. There is a big advantage in using a local person to plan your vacation. He know all the little things that go in planning a high end adventure.
All in all, I would give Jan our highest recommendation and we plan on using him on our next adventure to Norway on a Fjords excursion.
While many of our friends have visited and enjoyed Scandinavia, their trips seem to me the equivalent of visiting New York and Chicago and calling it “America.” It is, of course… but there’s so much more. My husband and I wanted the “so much more.” Problem is, if you ask travel planners to put together an independent itinerary that’s even a little off the beaten path, as we did, not one was familiar enough with Scandinavia to offer anything beyond the typical Copenhagen-Bergen-Oslo-Stockholm track.
Photography is our biggest priority. We wanted our Scandinavian trip—with an emphasis on Norway—to provide lots of photo ops and local color. What we didn’t want was to continually run into every travel photographer’s nemesis: busloads of tourists.
Jan Sortland promised to show us “the Norway that only Norwegians see,” and (with a little Denmark & Sweden thrown in), that’s exactly what he delivered. We traveled to places where the Norwegians themselves were on vacation, big, wide-open spaces, along the way driving hundreds of miles through gorgeous country filled with fjords, farms, waterfalls, even a glacier or two, around every bend yet another extraordinary view. We especially loved our days in the Lofotens, north of the Arctic Circle, where we wound up on Rost Island, 50 miles out in the Norwegian Sea, a small fishing community with roots dating back to the 14th century, famous for its abundance and variety of nesting sea birds. It was one of our favorite spots.
Jan brilliantly managed a 23-day journey with a complicated itinerary that included (take a deep breath): 3 car rentals, 8 inter-Scandinavian flights, 2 fjord cruises, numerous car ferries and an assortment of other boats, a train, a funicular and 10 accommodations, ranging from 5-stars and spas to “the oldest hotel in Norway,” a cozy family-run place, to a couple of fisherman’s huts. It was truly the “adventure” we’d hoped for. In the cities, Jan provided excellent guides and, in Copenhagen, a day with a guide, car & driver, showcasing the beauty of the Danish countryside. Left to our own devices, we were well-supplied with pre-paid vouchers for museums, palaces, stave churches, and a journey out into the Stockholm archipelago.
Our trip concluded in Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea—our second favorite place. How fortunate for us that Jan arranged our arrival to coincide with the last day of their annual Medieval Fair—what a sight coming upon half the town in medieval garb in this meticulously preserved medieval town. A photographer’s heaven.
In short, we couldn’t recommend Jan Sortland more.
Exceeded our expectations! Everything was great—the accommodations were the finest, our guide was wonderful, and the views and scenery were superlative!