We were informed that the online booking system tends to overbook extensively, and that renters from cruise ships get priority because they generate the most business. We asked if we could kayak that same afternoon, and they said there were two single kayaks available in a hour - Bailey negotiated to get us 5 hours of kayaking for the price of 3 (350 NOK, ~$40). The kayaks were pretty nice sea kayaks (Boreal Designs Epsilon) with day hatches. The weather was gray but not raining, so we were content.
Geirangerfjord, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is magnificent. The rock walls on either side are nearly vertical, making it impossible to develop along its shoreline. We did see a few small cabins perched perilously on the upper rim and wondered how these were accessed. Waterfalls taller than most in the US tumble down from every cliff, and the vegetation is bright green. The water is crystal clear, but it's hard to tell because the fjord is too deep (300 meters - the downstream Storfjord is 650 meters deep!) to see the bottom. Only at the very edge can you see the rock wall plummeting vertically down under the surface. Bailey spotted a few big jelly fish. A stark band of shellfish grip the rocks around the waterline, making me think there must be a small tide range here (1.5 to 2 meters, apparently). The fjord snakes along for about 12 km from Geiranger before coming to an intersection with Sunnylsfjord. We paddled quickly and made it just a couple kilometers short of this intersection, for a total paddle of 25 km, including two crossings.
The water was almost glassy in the fjord, except when motor boats, ferries, or cruise ships passed. Then, the waves reflected off the sides of the steep walls, making interesting interference patterns. Nothing too intense though. The crossings were by far the most nerve wracking - though you can see the other side clearly, it's nearly 2 km away, which takes about 20 minutes to cross if you're really trying hard. Big tour boats pass more frequently than this, so both times we crossed, we had to avoid a ferry and a cruise ship. The cruise ship (massive 20+ story ship) was just leaving Geiranger as we made our final crossing, and departed when we were in the middle of the fjord. It honked its reverberating horn (which caused rockfalls in the distance) 4 times, and then we saw a wake form at the front of it, heading straight for us. We paddled as hard as our floppy tired arms could take us, and the ship turned a bit, so we made it back alive.
We realized we hadn't eaten, drank, or peed in over 5 hours, because there are very few places to get out in the fjord (too steep). We ate our bread/salmon/veggies ravenously and later enjoyed hot showers in the kayak rental building (deluxe!).
Another amazing adventure in Norway!
Photos - Click to enlarge!
Distance: 15.5 miles (25 km)
Duration: 4.5 hours
Weather: Gray, cool, sprinkling sometimes