As one of the world's deepest fjords, Geirangerfjord is often included on Norwegian cruise itineraries. With elegant, sweeping rock faces peppered with glacial waterfalls and cozy cottages nestled into lush green valleys, this inlet has been a favorite for artists, adventurers and fishermen for centuries. However, Geirangerfjord has plenty of accolades that go beyond its stunning scenery:
History that's set in stone
The mountainous grey rock walls that enclose the mighty sides of Geirangerfjord provide a stunning history lesson: the tops of the cliff faces act as a visual marker of where the earth's surface once laid. For 100,000 years, glacial sheets from several Ice Ages slowly wore down the rocks, creating this giant U-shaped valley. The deep inlet includes rock walls that reach up to 5,000 feet in height in some spots - just a few feet shorter than Mount Mitchell, the eastern United States' highest peak. While Norway cruises feature a number of historic sites, few can boast a history that dates back 600 million years.
A true plant haven
Although Geirangerfjord is well-known for its marine residents, which include orcas, salmon and porpoise, the native plants and land-based fauna that pepper the valley embankments are some of the most rare in the world. Keep your eye out for the Arctic poppy, a delicate creamy yellow bloom which prefers to sprout among the rocky sunny outcroppings near the water's edge. Cruise-goers should also watch for the quick movements of the mountain foxes and lemmings, and if you're lucky, you may even spot a wild reindeer - a true treat that is sure to delight any little ones you're traveling with.
A place of legend
The beautiful sights have been the muse for a number of area folk tales in the region, and knowing the stories behind these sights helps to make them all the more memorable. The Friaren waterfall, for example, is the lone fall that sits across from the Seven Sisters, a series of seven even peaks. According to ancient tales, the waterfall is actually a courtier, desperately trying to impress one of the mountainous beauties from across the waterway for all of eternity.
While the Geirangerfjord is only one part of Norway fjord cruises, the details of this 9-mile fjord are worth special attention.