the real cape, the other real cape and more Lapland love (part two)

More and more we fell in love with these northern and remote landscapes. We decided to see as much of it as possible. Tanafjorden, Laksefjord, Porsangerfjord and Slettnes Fyr (the real northern cape), all of it amazing places that made us feel small, happy, grateful, connected,… It’s hard to describe why these places are so special to us. It’s just rocks, reindeer, water, emptiness and nothing more… but still, it’s a place to lose your heart.

Since we already visited the real, continental, northern cape, we, Katrien and I, didn’t feel the urge to visit the other real northern cape, Nordkapp. Our children on the other hand, thought otherwise. For more than a year we were planning to visit the symbolical Nordkapp and now we were thinking about skipping it… No way, aint gonna happen. So it happened.
Was it worth it? Of course, not that Nordkapp is even more spectacular than the other places we visited. It’s a landmark, not only on a map, but also in the mind. It’s the place where I thought: “We made it.”

Not far from the cape we found another incredible camping spot at the edge of Gjesvær. From there we took a boattrip to see puffins, gannits and the majestic sea eagle. A real must when you’re in the area.

After all the amazing, natural beauty of the north we decided to visit Alta and Tromsø before we headed back for some more nature. In Alta we met some people in the jacuzzi (jep life’s a bitch) of the public swimming pool who told us that Senja is one of the most beautiful islands of Norway. Even more beautiful than the Lofoten. So, who are we to doubt that.
And indeed, it’s a beautiful place. We camped at a beach inside a fjord, but this time we were not alone. It was a long holiday weekend and the weather forecast looked very promising so, for us, things got pretty crowded. We relaxed, read our books, enjoyed the sea, fished and hiked. Nothing much, but again, the scenary was incredible and the fish tasted excellent.
I told Guust that fishing in Norway is uncomparable to fishing back home. Not only the scenary and the species are different, but also the numbers you catch. At some point Guust managed to make nine casts and catch an equal amount of fish.

With only two weeks left we headed for Abisko. We really wanted to do another multiple day hike and what better place for that than the famous Kungsleden.
We started our hike in the late afternoon. We all had our backpack with the necessary things. The children always carry their own sleeping bag and matress.

Katrien normally packs a relatively light backpack but with all the camera equipment included she packed 16 kilo and I took 22 kilo. We only had to hike for 5 k to reach the first available (and free) campspot where we could pitch our tent for the first night. From there we hiked 12 k to the cabin at Alesjaure where we pitched our tent again and enjoyed a nice evening sauna session and a nice bag of hot dinner.

The thirth day we climbed the mountain to reach the valley behind it from where we could return to our starting point in Abisko. A beautiful climb across rocks, mud and snow took us up the mountain where we had the most amazing view. From the top we could already see our destination for that day, the cabin at Kårsavagge. The hardest part of the day was crossing the river at the cabin.
First I made the crossing alone with my backpack and went back for Katriens backpack and Guust. Than I had to return once more for Jule and Katrien.
With only one pair of shoes that needed to be kept dry, I made the crossings barefoot. I learned two things that day: icecold glacier water eases pain only a little and there is a reason why hikers take crocs (or something similar) with them.
We pitched our tent at, again, a magnificent spot where we enjoyed an amazing scenary and some more nice and hot food. Same bags, different flavours.

From the cabin we hiked back to Abisko. It was a beautiful 15 k hike through wet terrain. The temperatures where quite high so the snow was melting very fast which made the riverlevels rise and the crossing of them rather difficult and wet.

After our arrival in Abisko, we rewarded ourselves with some powerful streetfood from a truck in Kiruna, delicious and well deserved.
In the week that followed we slowly made our way down to Goteborg. We spend two days in this lovely city before we took the ferry to Denmark and for what would be our very last drive back home.
But before that we had just one more treat.

In Estonia at the bushcraftfestival we met this really cool guy Lars who invited us to spend our last night on the road at his place.
He’s an expert in survivaltechniques and outdoor education, something I became very interested in as well.
What we didn’t know is that he’s the owner of an outdoor activity organisation (Team Nord) and parc where he organises different kinds of courses and events. So we spend our last evening trowing axes, shooting arrows, climbing trees, making fire and bread on sticks.

The warm welcome that we got from Lars and his family was a perfect end for the trip we’ll never forget.

One year long we lived so close as a family and created a bond that can never be broken.

We drove 36000 k with our Volkswagen van and self-built trailer.
We crossed 26 countries and slept in 22 at 115 different places.
We slept 184 nights outside in our van or in one of our two tipitents.
We had to reset our watch 11 times.
We read thousands and thousands of pages on our e-readers.
The first and only accident with our trailer happened some 200 k after our departure.
Through Romania, Bulgary and Turkey we drove to Georgia.
We spend a sunny winter in the south of Europe.
We saw an erupting Etna on Christmas day.
We surfed the Atlantic in Portugal.
I paddled the Soča in Slovenia in a packraft.
We bushcrafted in Estonia.
We celebrated midsummer eve in Helsinki.
We reached the end of the world in the north of Norway.
We visted the real northern cape twice in two different locaions.
We visited marketplaces in Istanbul, Tbilisi, Athens, Palermo, Cagliari, Barcelona, Brno, Krakov, Vilnius, Tallinn, Helsinki, Tromsø and lots of other smaller and bigger towns across Europe.
We visited the islands of Sicilie, Sardinia, Saaremaa and Vardø.
We took the ferry 5 times.
We had visitors in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and France.
And in between those, we did all sorts of interesting and other cool stuff.

Now, back home, when I look back at the amzing year we had, I’m thankful for having had the chance to be on the road with my family.
With my beautiful wife who is and always will remain the love of my life.
With my children who are growing up so fast as two independent, powerful and beautiful human beings. We keep raising them wild and free.
I’m glad that we managed to take them on a trip that broadened their horizons and which makes them see things more in perspective.
We made a journey that is more important than working or going to school, in my case that means both.
We tasted the rare taste of absolute freedom.

I recommend you do the same.

Did you know there’s a part one to this article?

Check it out! click

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copy by Jan Bergs
pictures by Katrien de Troch, Studio Gloria

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