Fjaerlandfjord is a branch of the Sognefjord, the largest fjord in Norway and the world's third longest at 205 kilometers. Fjærland is a stopping-off point for visits to Jostedalsbreen, the largest glacier in mainland Europe, and the Norwegian Glacier Museum.
Norway – Been There

Of 'Viagra Falls' and naked charms

Photo by Lucas Vallecillos

Norway – Been There Of 'Viagra Falls' and naked charms

As I drive up the E-16 towards Flåm, I realize that in Norway, most of the time, the road is a destination in itself.

Kayoko Nakata
Kayoko Nakata Writer

Norway's nature holds many surprises along this route, and Tvindefossen Falls is one of them.

“In the 1990s, its waters acquired a reputation for rejuvenation and sexual potency after a local journalist dubbed it ‘Viagra Falls’ as a bit of a joke,” says my guide, Anders. “The falls became over-run with visitors – up to 200,000 every summer.” He explains how local people, when asked their age by visiting tourists, would add a decade to help maintain the story that drinking the waters would make you look ten years younger. Norwegian humor.

Another magnificent view awaits at Stalheim, where I look out on the lovely valley leading to Gudvangen, where we put the car on a ferry that will take us up Nærøyfjord. “This is an arm of the Sognefjord,” says Anders. “It is another World Heritage Site and only 50 meters wide in places.” The ferry meanders between the steep sides, where waterfalls gush from the most unexpected places, before we enter another arm of the Sognefjord called Aurlandsfjorden, a small but very deep fjord of great beauty.

Our ferry stops at Flåm, a tiny village that sees close to 500,000 visitors a year. They come for the scenic railway to Myrdal, up one of the steepest tracks in the world. The gradient of one in 18 ensures the engine runs at a leisurely pace on the 20-kilometer line, allowing plenty of photo opportunities amid scenery dotted with farms, fields, waterfalls and snow-capped peaks.

The onboard commentary makes much of the hulder nymphs that are said to haunt the waterfall of Kjosfossen. Unlike the better-known but ugly trolls, these female forest spirits use their great beauty and naked charms to seduce men into their arms, never to return if a spirit is left unsatisfied. The train stops by the falls, from which the spray is driven by the wind to soak those who venture out with cameras. Their reward, however, is a glimpse of a hulder high on the falls, dressed in flimsy white cloth and waving her arms.

“They are students from the National Ballet School,” says Anders. “It’s okay, they are wearing wetsuits under their wet clothes.” More Norwegian humor.

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