An Ever Changing Landscape

The Nærøyfjord was inscribed onto UNESCO’s World Heritage List as part of the West Norwegian Fjords, the reasoning being the range between the fjord and the mountains which offers a varied picture of the fjord phenomenon.

The area is characterised by its distinctive formations, the ongoing geological processes and the contrasting climates from the fjord’s shoreline to the mountaintops

The area’s bedrock lays the foundation for the vegetation, local industry and settlements. During the Caledonian orogeny, more than 400 million years ago, big flakes of the different typed bedrock were pushed together and converted into hard rock that was low in nutrition, which settled on top of younger phyllite. This is distinguishable by the characteristic nuances of colours going through the mountains, and the rock also has commercial attributes (as an example through the anorthosite mines in the valley of Nærøydalen).


  • The Nærøyfjord
  • The Aurlandsfjord
  • The Sognefjord

large Fjord Valleys

  • The valley of Nærøydalen
  • The valley of Aurlandsdalen
  • The valley of Lærdalsdalen
  • The valley of Flåmsdalen

Avalanche and mass waSting paths

The steep mountainsides offer dramatic images of the wild nature in the shape of paths of reoccurring land and rock slides and avalanches, talus cones and yearly avalanches. This is due to the fact that the bedrock in the area weathers easily and as a result can become unstable.

  • Inner and Outer Drøfti on the northern side of the mountain of Bleia.
  • “Breidskrea” (translates as the Wide Scree) by Bakka.
  • In the Bleia area, above Revsnes, there are clear signs of a larger rockslide having occurred.
  • There are also a lot of examples of mass wasting paths and alluvial fans that can be seen when travelling up the valley in Lærdal.


  • The largest glacier is Fresviksbreen (1648m.a.s.l.) on the western side of the Nærøyfjord.
  • There is a smaller glacier on the eastern side of the Nærøyfjord called Syrdalsbreen (1761m.a.s.l.).
  • There is also a smaller glacier on the eastern side of the top of the mountain of Bleia (1717m.a.s.l.).
  • In the mountain areas between the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord, not too far away from Fresviksbreen, you can also find several small glaciers and eternal snowdrifts.
  • There are large snowdrifts and small glaciers in the mountain areas of Aurland, the most notable of these are the Vargebreen and Skommabreen, Blåskavlen and Storskavlen.

Watercourses and Waterfalls

The large waterfalls in the area are well known and popular attractions. Geologically speaking once the glacial ice melted, the landscape was shaped by the running water of the rivers and streams. The fact that there are entire watercourses that have experienced no outside intervention, where erosion and other land forming processes have been allowed to take place naturally, remains a very distinctive part of the area. 

Waterfalls include:

  • Sivlefossen and Stalheimsfossen, in the inner most part of the valley of Nærøydalen
  • Brekkefossen and Rojandefossen in the valley of Flåmsdalen.
  • Stødnofossen in Lærdal.
  • Turlidfossen in Aurland.
  • Kjelfossen in Gudvangen.
  • Huldafossen in Fresvik.


  • Undredalselvi.
  • Dyrdalselvi.
  • Kolarselvi (in the valley of Norheimsdalen).
  • The upper part of the Erdalselvi river.
  • Nisedalselvi.


  • Vossovassdraget.
  • Flåmsvassdraget.

(Photo: Ruben Bøtun "Huldafossen")

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