Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Travelers during their ice fishing/snowshoe adventure in Alta, Norway.

Barbara Palter and her husband during their ice fishing/snowshoe adventure in Alta, Norway.

My husband and I had watched the episode of The Reluctant Traveller with Eugene Levy where he had visited Finland to see the Northern Lights. We had the bug and had to see them for ourselves!

We immediately contacted Wendy to find out where we should travel to not only see the lights but also to experience a great adventure. She suggested that our needs would be best met in Norway. We were then connected with Torunn and her team, who listened to our requests and put together a terrific 10-day itinerary.

We spent the bulk of our time in the north of the country dogsledding, ice fishing, meeting the Samis, the Indigenous people of Norway, and interacting with the most fascinating people.

We were lucky to see the Northern Lights quite a few times and the phenomenon did not disappoint. However, the highlight for us was the dog sledding excursion from Engeholm Husky Lodge. We were under the impression that we would be riding in a sled pulled by some huskies, but boy were we wrong! We were driving the sleds ourselves — that was quite the experience and one we will never forget.

We ended our adventure in Oslo and had quite a treat planned by Torunn’s office. We visited Grøndalen farm, a family-run dairy farm. Hans, his son Lars who now runs the farm, and his family have owned the farm since the 1600s and can trace their lineage back to the Vikings. He introduced us to his dairy cows, which he taught us how to milk. Most importantly, he shared with us his family’s philosophy for taking care of the cows; specifically, how calves and mothers are not separated at birth as is typical in most farms. Instead, calves stay with their mothers until 2 months of age…happy cows make extra-yummy milk! That milk is then turned into a delicious thick labneh type of product called Nyr. To top it off, we were invited to have dinner with the family. Hans’ wife cooked a delicious meal complete with ice-cream Nyr; the food and the conversation made it a truly special evening!

A huge thank you to Torunn’s team for creating an unforgettable adventure!!

A glass igloo to watch the northern lights in Norway.

Kathye and her husband watched for the northern lights from inside this glass igloo.

Seeing the Aurora Borealis has been on my bucket list for ages and it was time to make it happen! With Wendy’s help we were connected with Torunn Tronsvang, who planned a terrific 10-day adventure for us in northern Norway in February, 2024. I worked with Karin Andresen on many of the details and Karin did a wonderful job too. My focus was seeing the lights (we saw them twice, yippee!), but the entire trip turned out to be way better than we expected due to the fun activities Torunn and Karin planned for us.

We started in Alta, well north of the Arctic Circle, and stayed at a great property outside of the town in a beautiful setting on the banks of a frozen river. We went snowshoeing (easier than I thought it would be) and ice fishing with Kelle of Glod Explorer, and his husky Bruno. Jim caught an Arctic Char so our lunch was as fresh is it could get! Sitting in a lavvu, around a fire, sipping hot chocolate and eating fresh-caught fish was a real treat. We also took a snowmobile ride at night at Bjornfjeld Mountain Lodge. We were cozy in a beautiful mountaintop glass igloo, cooked our dinner over a fire and looked for the lights. On our last day in Alta we spent several hours dog sledding in the beautiful Finnmark forest and on frozen lakes, which was one of the highlights of the trip. Our guide, Hannah, ran the Iditarod two years ago and was so expert on the trails. We loved our day with her and her dog teams.

While en route to our next destination (we saw moose, reindeer and foxes along the way), we had lunch with Johan, a Sami elder, in the village of Maze. His family has raised and herded reindeer for generations and his sons are poised to take care of the business someday. We learned so much from him about his profession, about the Sami, and got to meet some of his reindeer. Fascinating.

In Karasjok we stayed at one of the most unique, exceptional small properties we’ve ever seen. Every cabin and all of the furniture in each of the 7 cabins has been built by hand from natural materials. This place is a hidden gem, set in the forest and truly magical. On property were 45 Alaskan Huskies who were very friendly and loved “cuddles” from everyone. One of our days was spent with Magrit, a Sami woman who has spent her entire life raising and herding reindeer. We went with her by snowmobile, up high in the mountains, to see and feed some of her family’s herd. We spent time in the forest around a warm fire and she shared stories with us about her life. On our last day there, I went dog sledding with the Alaskan Huskies—it was an exciting ride where the dogs broke a new trail in deep, newly fallen snow on the frozen lake. It was a wonderful experience I will never forget.

The last few days of the trip were spent in Oslo where our expert guide took us to the Nobel Peace Prize Museum (very, very moving), and the National Museum (which houses Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”). We saw several contemporary buildings—the Library and the Opera House—watched some young men run from the sauna and jump into the 32-degree water of the harbor (yikes!); and toured the Vigeland Sculpture Park.

The Aurora was as wondrous as I expected and we were so lucky to see it. Northern Norway is a beautiful part of the world with clean water, clean air, warm and friendly people and so accessible to the outdoors. When we asked local guides (who grew up in Alta and Karasjok) if they ever wanted to move away, their answer was NO!!!! We could understand why.

The trip was so smooth due to Torunn and Karin’s expertise. Prior to and during the trip we made a few itinerary adjustments and all went perfectly. All of the guides and ground transportation services were there when and where they were supposed to be, and the outfitters and lodging choices were a great fit for us. We are so glad we saw the lights but we are also so appreciative of the adventures we experienced on this wonderful, enchanting trip.

Norway was truly magical! I had an unexpected week off after Thanksgiving and saw Norway pop up on the Wendy Perrin newsletter. After speaking with Torunn, I was sold. Torunn, Mari and the team gave me a great itinerary as a solo traveler with only a week available. I rode the magical Flam Railway and was mesmerized by Hafslo. The pictures I took did not fully capture the beauty I had the privilege of witnessing. BesteBekken was the best place to stay. Lindis cooked all the meals (accommodating all dietary restrictions) and was the tour guide to boot. We bonded in just the few short days. Her alpacas were adorable as well!

Next it was travel up north to the Lofoten Islands. Despite needing to change planes a few times, the process went off so smoothly. I was a bit anxious about renting a car but Torunn’s team was absolutely correct that this was the way to go. The apartment I stayed at in Henningsvær was on the water and a perfect location for the places I needed to get to. I had a blast making cheese with organic cheesemakers and making glass beads with a seasoned glassmaker. We were unlucky with our Northern Lights excursion but learned a lot about the physics behind their occurrence. Luck visited me the next night when I saw the lights while walking to dinner. This trip was an unexpected joy. I can’t wait to visit again in other seasons. But to be honest, I would totally go back in the winter again (so many more places to visit in this winter wonderland).

Our family spent a memorable 12 days in Norway in August. Norway is a beautiful, large and varied country and there was no possibility to see it all in the time we had. Thankfully, we had Torunn on our side! She listened and delivered on our request for an active, adventurous vacation with our kids (17 & 19 years old), mixed in with some downtime. Our trip did not disappoint.

Torunn suggested a loop that included mountains, forest and the coast, as well as varied transportation (train, car, boat and ferry), so that we could experience a wide range of what Norway offers. The lodging were all boutique hotels and while they may not have had typical luxury amenities, they were full of charm, local food and character, and really lovely people.

After exploring Oslo, we took the scenic Rauma Railway from Oslo to Lillehammer, followed by a bus to Andalsnes where we climbed the via ferrata (a real highlight!) and e-biked up the switchbacks of Trollstigen Road. The train was supposed to go all the way to Andalsnes but recent rains had flooded the tracks, which required us to switch to a bus midway. Torunn’s office seamlessly took care of switching our train tickets before we even knew there was an issue.

Next we drove The Geiranger-Trollstigen Scenic Route to Valldal, where we stayed in the most beautiful chalet at Juvet. We enjoyed the quiet scenery but balanced it with a canyoning adventure. Don’t miss the cinnamon rolls at the cafe at the waterfall across the street!

We continued along the Scenic Route Geiranger-Trollstigen towards the town of Geiranger. Once there we caught the ferry through the Geiranger Fjord. The drive and the ferry allowed us to see a wide range of Norwegian landscapes. On the way to our next stop, we went horseback riding on Norwegian Fjord horses, one of the oldest horse breeds in the world.

Our last stop was the fishing village of Kalvag, where Torunn’s team arranged for a typical Norwegian shrimp dinner to be in our apartment at the Knutholmen Hotel for our late arrival. We went out on a fishing boat with a local fisherman, eating our catch for lunch on an island that is no longer inhabited (unless you count sheep!). We also tried the (very hot) sauna on the pier, interspersed with (very cold) dips in the water, and went on a scenic hike.

We truly enjoyed the beautiful landscapes, unique lodging and warm, welcoming people. Our itinerary was well-designed; Torunn and her team made sure we had a smooth trip that encompassed all of our requests covering every detail, including reservations at fantastic restaurants in Oslo. We hope to return to Norway to explore the parts we didn’t get to on this trip!!

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