Posts Tagged ‘mountains’

Day Hike to Kvalvika Beach in Norway’s Lofoten Islands

 

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Dramatic clouds and scenery on the hike to Kvalvika Beach

Norway’s Lofoten islands are known for their dramatic landscapes. But the handful of gorgeous sandy beaches came as a real surprise to me as a first-time visitor to the area.

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Clouds reflected in a pond

An unexpected highlight of my recent trip to Norway was the scenic hike we took to Kvalvika Beach. Located onMoskenesøy and only accessible by foot, the day hike is popular with families and photographers. It’s easy to see why.

 

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Looking down at Kvalvika Beach

After about an hour of minutes of pleasant hiking with some slick patches due to the wet grass and natural oil oozing from the land, the mountain landscape opens up to reveal a glorious crescent shaped beach with waves crashing against the golden sand.

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Ana taking in the view from the hike

The hike itself is interesting (and popular) throughout the year. During the summer, campers head to Kvalvika Beach to spend the night under the midnight sun. In the fall and winter, photographers and families head up for the dramatic views.

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Kvalvika Beach, possibly the prettiest spot in Norway’s Lofoten Islands

We wound up being led on this hike by Alex Conu, who we hired from Colors of Lofoten to be our photo guide for the day.

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Red grass and pink clouds on the hike to Kvalvika Beach

It’s worth the effort for the scenery alone. You’ll pass fields of red grasses and lakes before getting a bird’s eye view of Kvalvika Beach.

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Otherworldly landscape in the Lofoten Islands

I appreciate unusual landscape and the moss, rocks, oil, and mountains made this one of the most visually satisfying hikes I’ve ever taken.

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Oil oozing from the Lofoten Islands

There are some step sections, and hiking boots are key to handling this terrain.

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The landscape before dusk looked drastically different

We took this hike just before dusk, when the colors and light were changing quite a bit. Views looked dramatically different on the way back than they did on the way up, We opted to retraced our steps to save time, since we were prioritizing photographing the Northern Lights that evening rather than take the long way back.

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Portrait of Ana in the outdoors

Kvalvika Beach was featured in a documentary called North of the Sun, about two surfers (yes, arctic surfing is a thing) who spent nine months there catching waves. You can watch the film on iTunes.

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Clouds reflected

If you’re headed to the Lofoten Islands and fit enough to handle a reasonably easy hike with some moderate altitude gain, I’d highly suggest taking the hike to Kvalvika Beach.

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Portrait  of Ana in pastels on the hike to Kvalvika Beach

Getting there:

From any location on Lofoten, take the E10 to Fredvang. After leaving the E10 and crossing the twin bridges, turn left into Fredvang and continue along the road through the village. After approximately 3 kilometers (from the turn) you will see a red boat shed on the left near the water. Immediately past this is a paved parking turnout large enough for 10-15 cars. Park here.

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Exploring New Zealand: Scenic Helicopter Tour of Milford Sound

The view of Glenorchy from lift off

The view of Glenorchy from lift off  

If you’re looking for things to do in Queenstown, New Zealand and bungy jumping isn’t your style, I highly recommend taking a scenic helicopter flight to Milford Sound with Heli Glenorchy. This was the highlight of my recent trip to New Zeland’s South Island.

The Dart and Reese rivers meet Lake Wakatipu

The Dart and Reese rivers meet Lake Wakatipu

The weather has to be on your side. Too much wind can make for a choppy and unpleasant flight. After two days of delays and time push backs, I was finally able to take the scenic flight to Milford Sound with pilot Mark Hollows.

Taking off from the Glenorchy helipad video

Despite his chill Kiwi attitude, Hollows is a seasoned pilot who knows Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park like the back of his hand. With decades of also piloting experience, Hollows also sometimes flies helicopters from the Seattle area into Alaska. He provided a smooth and safe journey and convinced me I want to be a helicopter pilot in my next life.

The Real Middle Earth, as seen from a helicopter

The Real Middle Earth, as seen from a helicopter

I’m a bit of an aviation geek and now helicopters are my new favorite form of transportation. Why? Check out these stunning views!

A lake in the Fiordland with the Rees River in the background

A lake in the Fiordland with the Rees River in the background

 If you are planning a trip to Queenstown and looking for a luxury tour, I cannot recommend a scenic helicopter tour highly enough. It’s an adrenaline rush without bungee cords. If you are photographer, the aerial views are incredible.

Here I am exiting the helicopter to explore the Fiordland

Here I am exiting the helicopter to explore the Fiordland

Weather permitting, you can add on things like a glacier and snow landing to your scenic tour. These extras are all weather dependent– much of the snow had melted so our snow landing was a bit rockier than it would have been during cooler weather. I’m not complaining!

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Exploring the Fiordland

Exploring the Fiordland

It’s incredible to have such an intimate experience among the clouds in such a dramatic and gorgeous setting.

Helicopters can land just about anywhere

Helicopters can land just about anywhere

The blue skies, the glaciers, the lakes… it’s nature at it’s most pristine. I can’t think of anything else more deserving of the tourism board’s “Pure New Zealand” description and #purenewzealand hashtag.

Whirlybird goodness GIF

 Whirlybird goodness GIF

I was blown away by the landscape. Glaciers melting into small pools, clouds and bright blue skies were everywhere.

Where a glacier becomes a lake near Milford Sound

Where a glacier becomes a lake near Milford Sound

The rocks were covered with patches of moss when they weren’t capped with snow.

Moss, rocks, and glacier

Moss, rocks, and glacier

This is part of the planet you can’t easily reach by hiking.

I love the graphic nature of the landscape

I love the graphic nature of the landscape

While I had some photographic issues with reflections in the windows, I have since learned from fellow photographers you ideally want a “doors off” flight for the best images.

Glacier melt turns into rapids near Milford Sound

Glacier melt turns into rapids near Milford Sound

I’m not sure if Heli Glenorchy offers a doors off option, but I’m still thrilled with the photos I got during this flight.

Another amazing aerial view with  in the distance

Another amazing aerial view with Lake Wakatipu  in the distance

The scenery can truly be described using every cliche. Epic? For sure. Breathtaking? Yep.

It's amazing to be able to fly into the clouds... and then just land

 It’s amazing to be able to fly into the clouds… and then just land

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Glaciers peaking above the clouds

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The view from my window seat looking down at Fiordland National Park

A portrait of helicopter pilot Mark Hollows

A portrait of helicopter pilot Mark Hollows

 As if you need any more scenery, the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy is also quite beautiful.

Glaciers winding through craggy rocks

Glaciers winding through craggy rocks

Looking down at a glacier

Looking down at a glacier

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Just below the clouds

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Glaciers create some of the world’s most glorious scenery

It’s kind of mind blowing being able to look down at a glacier from a helicopter. You really get a sense of their movement and flow.

A stunning aerial view of lake in Fiordland National Park

A stunning aerial view of lake in Fiordland National Park

Helicopter tours do not come cheap. Scenic flights to Milford Sound start at NZ$245 (US$165) per person. But the Heli Glenorchy experience is worth every penny.

Heli Glenorchy
Address: Mull St, Glenorchy 9372, New Zealand
Phone:+64 800 435 449

Heli Glenorchy Facebook Page 

Follow Heli Glenorchy on Instagram

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Exploring Glaciers in Iceland: a Photo Essay

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Melt from Svínafellsjökull glacier makes for gorgeous landscapes

Iceland is known as the “land of fire and ice.” Between the Nordic country’s geothermal hot springs, active volcanos, and glaciers, it’s a fitting nickname.

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Clouds, Svínafellsjökull glacier, and autumn scenery

Iceland is home to Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe, which has multiple tongues. One of the prettiest I saw during my Iceland trip was Svínafellsjökull. It’s located in Skaftafell, which also part of Vatnajökull National Park in southern Iceland.

Autumn scenery of Svínafellsjökull Glacier

I shot the video above on my iPhone 6s. I thought the southern Icelandic scenery was so Nordic zen.

Damp moss adds to the many textures of this Svínafellsjökull landscape

Svínafellsjökull and Skaftafellsjökull are spurs (or sub-glacier) of the Vatnajökull ice cap.

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Moody light and a stream make Svinafelljokul hauntingly beautiful

 I loved how you could view the blue ice of the glacier right from the Ring Road.

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A brief hike leads up to the tongue of Skaftafellsjökull glacier

The blue ice of Skaftafellsjökul added an extra dimension to the already moody and gorgeous Icelandic scenery.

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Moody blues of Skaftafellsjökull

You can hike up to (and on) the tongue of Skaftafellsjökull glacier.

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Glacier hiking in Iceland

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Moody mist and shifting light made for an interesting photograph

If you’re planning on doing a glacier hike, be sure to hire an experienced guide. There have been a few accidents in this area.

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Autumn colors, mountains and a glacier. 

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Ana photographing the icebergs in a glacial lake

I shot these images on the first day of my two day Glacial Lagoon Photo Tour in Iceland.

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Exploring the Eldhraun Lava Field in Iceland

Nordic Little Red Riding Hood

Exploring Iceland’s second-largest lava field, Eldhraun, was like being transported into some moody Nordic fairytale. Discovering and photographing Eldhraun was an unexpected joy in southern Iceland. I wouldn’t have found this highly photogenic area without the help of my photo guide, Jorunn of Iceland Photo Tours who took Anastasia and I here on the first day of our Two Day Photo Tour of The Glacial Lagoon.

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Scenes from Eldraun: Woolly fringe moss grows thick as a futon over lava rock

Moss has grown thick as a mattress on the rocky craters of lava, which date back to an eruption from 1783-84, when Iceland was still part of the Danish Kingdom. The Eldhraun lava field covers about 218 square miles (565 square kilometers) of ground in southern Iceland.

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Left: Anastasia exploring Eldhraun Right: a crevice in the Eldhraun lava field

Now there is plant life peeking through the woolly fringe moss (scientific name Racomitrium lanuginosum) adding unexpected pops of color to this already moody and magical landscape.

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Yellow leaves in the wooly moss

With the skies shifting colors, I keep expecting to see Jon Snow, or at least a wildling or five.

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Left: Ana wandering through Eldraun Right: Red rain coat in Iceland’s second largest lava field

Having Anastasia wear a red raincoat added some extra contrast and interest to the landscape and transformed her into a Nordic Little Red Riding Hood.

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Plant life amidst the wooly moss of Eldhraun

The crew of the Apollo 11 (US astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins) practiced before their moonlanding on this otherworldly landscape.

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Searching for trolls in  the Eldhraun 

In 2014 a new eruption created the Holuhraun lava field, which is now the biggest in Iceland. It’s also located in the Icelandic Highlands.

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The starkly beautiful moody landscape of Eldraun

 Eldhraun means “fire lava.”

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Red Rain Coat in the Eldraun Lava Field in Iceland

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Landscapes of St. Lucia: a #FriFotos Photo & Video Essay

A view of Gros Piton from Ladera Resort

I just returned from my first trip to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. St. Lucia is all lush rainforest and curvy mountains. If islands were supermodels, I’d say St. Lucia is the Kate Upton equivalent. In honor of #FriFotos, I thought I’d share a few landscapes from St. Lucia.

iPhone panorama shot from the deck of Ladera Resort

Diamond Falls, St. Lucia

The Piton Mountains are no doubt the island’s most notable geography– they are an UNESCO  World Heritage Site– but St. Lucia has many other charms. The island has beaches, rainforest, volcanos and waterfalls (especially the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens) are all beautiful and worth visiting.

St Lucia’s Diamond Falls

Peak a book Piton view from the pool at Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort

If you’re into cloud porn, then St. Lucia is for you. Here’s a timelapse I shot from the deck of room 709 at Sugar Beach.

Cloud Time Lapse from Room 709 at Sugar Beach

Beautiful landscapes are one thing, but Lucians, as the locals call themselves, are lovely people. And it was nice to leave the hotels and go into Soufriere and dine with the locals while taking in another spectacular sunset.

Sunset at Soufriere Harbor, St. Lucia

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