Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Norge part 1: The Dirty South

A six hour drive south from rainy Voss lands you in Telemark, home of skiing, unfeasibly hard war heroes, and super sweet, California-in-miniature style whitewater. We arrived in early June, hoping to catch the end of the season, and arrived just as the last of the boating water was leaving. After setting up camp at the foot of the legendary homerun, we headed off in search of a first evening's park 'n' huck, in the shape of Popo Falls on the Goyst.

Think of Scotland's Allt a' Chaourrain with 3 times the volume, warm water, warm sunshine and a big pool at the end. After decking ourselves down until we couldn't carry our boats any more, we relaxed in the sunshine and warm water, before heading back to camp for a beer.

After a long, hot day scouting the nearby Austbygdaai (or Tessungselva), and running a few low water sections, we headed back to the classic homerun, the one we'd been saving. 5 clean waterfalls in a row, between 2m and 7m in height, big enough to get the heart going, friendly enough not to need bank support, an enormous pool at the bottom, a sweet place to camp, and a 16m high cliff to jump off. Although water levels were below ideal, the sun was shining and the Maar is by any standards a waterfall kayaker's heaven.

After a final morning's hucking on the homerun, we packed up and headed north to find more water. We found lots more. The Numdedalsaagen is one of Norway's longest rivers, and although still relatively near its source, the 'Zambezi' section boasts some awesome high volume whitewater. We managed to scrounge free camping in exchange for some safety boating at 'Serious Fun' rafting, and enjoyed a few days of relaxation, big water and big hot tub action with the locals and raft guides.

The southern Telemark region of Norway doesn't get the same attention as the kayaking hubs at Voss and Sjoa, however, the boating is world class, the weather is warm, and It's a much shorter drive from Voss than Sjoa is. Go there.

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