Introducing Jostedalsbreen & Nigardsbreen
The Jostedalen valley pokes due north from Gaupne, on the shores of Lustrafjord. It’s a spectacular drive as the slim road runs beside the milky turquoise river, tumbling beneath the eastern flank of the Nigardsbreen glacier.
For years mighty Jostedalsbreen, many-tongued and mainland Europe’s largest icecap, crept counter-current, still slowly advancing while most glaciers elsewhere in the world were retreating as a result, most scientists agree, of global warming. Now Jostedalsbreen herself has succumbed and, since 2006, has been withdrawing. Briksdalsbreen, which attracts day visitors by the coachload, is cracking and fissuring and, as always, you shouldn’t venture onto the ice anywhere without a qualified guide.
With an area of 487 sq km and in places 600m thick, Jostedalsbreen rules over the highlands of Sogn og Fjordane county. The main icecap and several outliers are protected as the Jostedalsbreen National Park.
The Jostedalsbreen Glacier Walks brochure, available at tourist offices and many other venues, gives a comprehensive list of glacier walks, their levels and guiding companies.
Of the Jostedalsbreen glacier tongues visible from below, Nigardsbreen is the most dramatic and easy to approach. If you’re an experienced walker and fancy communing alone with (but not on) the ice, nip further up the road past the braided glacial streams at Fåbergstølsgrandane to the dam that creates the big glacial lake, Styggevatnet. Along the way you’ll find several scenic glacial tongues and valleys offering excellent wild hiking.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009