David Nieper Academy Discovers Norway
When considering a new destination, we know nothing is better than hearing from someone who has been there. That’s why we have asked David Nieper Academy to tell us all about their recent trip to Norway with us.
After receiving great feedback from Head of Humanities, Chris Ruddy, we asked him what had inspired him to choose Norway and how their trip played out…
I had visited Norway on holiday twice, including Bergen itself. Norway struck me as an incredibly welcoming, and also safe place to take students.
When I saw Discover the World Education offered Norway as a destination, I found out more information and really liked the sound of it; it seemed like it offered lots of exciting and varied geographical experiences whilst being a slightly cheaper alternative to Iceland.
Our school only opened in 2016, and it was only our second residential after the Bay of Naples in 2018. In comparison to the Italy trip, it allowed for more of a blend between excursions to places of interest and actual physical activities. It also offered more opportunities to built team work skills and resilience among students whilst on the trip itself.
Day 1 - Exploring Bergen
A 2am coach journey did not dampen anyone’s spirits – instead the excitement was palpable for the 27 David Nieper Academy students and three accompanying teachers who were embarking on our school’s inaugural geography trip to Norway.
After check-in at Gatwick Airport, our Norwegian Air flight departed on time. This was an experience in itself for many of our students, as many were flying for the first time.
The descent into a cloudless Bergen provided stunning views over the city’s Seven Mountains and the many islands of the Hordaland County – a sign of all things geographical to come over the next few days!
The transfer to Bergen – Norway’s majestic and charming second city – was short and smooth. After a quick change in the hotel, we had the remainder of the day to explore Bergen’s main attractions, ably guided by Mr Ruddy, our school’s geography teacher, who had holidayed in Bergen last summer (first-time visitors fear not: the city centre is friendly, compact and very easily navigable!). Our tour included the colourful Bryggen UNESCO World Heritage Site, the famous fish market, and the Lille Lungagaardsvannet – an octagonal lake situated in the heart of the city centre. Nonetheless, the undeniable highlight of the afternoon was a visit to Mount Floyen via the exceptionally steep funicular railway, rising 302m over its 844m length, where we enjoyed ice cream in the sun whilst taking in the incredible views back towards Bergen.
Our three-course dinner was served in our accommodation – the centrally-located Hotel Augustin. We were hugely impressed by the quality of the food and accommodation, which far superseded our previous experience of school trips abroad. The day ended with a short evening walk through the Nordnes district to watch the sunset over the fjords – yet another amazing view (you will notice a pattern forming as far as spectacular views are concerned, there were many, many more to come!)
Day 2 - Waterfalls, via ferrata and zip lining!
The journey from Bergen to Kinsarvik was like leaping into a well-illustrated geography textbook. A stunning three-hour drive through fantastic scenery meant students were able to spot a host of impressive geographical features like glacial troughs and hanging valleys.
On the way, we made a brief stop at Steinsdalsfossen, one of Norway’s most popular waterfall attractions, where we were able to walk behind the waterfall and feel the cool spray from its 50m drop!
On arrival in Kinsarvik, we were welcomed by our instructors and headed straight for the nearby forest for our via ferrata rock climbing experience. Ascending to a stomach-churning 30m above the ground, students were attached to each other and so had to work in teams to traverse the rock face.
Fortunately we didn’t have to climb back down; instead our successful teamwork was rewarded with an exhilarating zip line through the treetops.
We felt a real sense of achievement, especially those of us who conquered a fear of heights!
The remainder of the day was spent at our home for the remaining three nights – the Hardangertun Holiday Park. On reflection, it is the holiday park itself that made travelling to Norway with Discover the World Education a truly unforgettable experience for our students and staff alike.
Our home for the trip...
The holiday park is located in the small village of Kinsarvik, right on the edge of the beautiful Hardangerfjord, which gives a real sense of tranquility where everyone can relax away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Our students were amazed by their charming waterfront cabins, which were finished to a really high quality (Google image searches really do not do this place justice!) They were even able to cool off in the evening sunshine with a brisk dip in the pool!
Key principles instilled upon young people staying at Hardangertun are collective responsibility and independence: each cabin rose to the challenge by working in teams to plan and prepare breakfast and lunch from their food hampers, as well as staying on top of cabin cleaning!
Evening meals are served in the main dining room, where a nice touch was the friendly chef greeting students to explain the evening’s menu and find out about their day. Again, the food was tasty and healthy, with many of our students opting for second portions!
Day 3 - Sima powerplant and Hardangervidda plateau
Day three saw students donning hi-vis jackets and hard hats ready for a fascinating tour of the Sima hydroelectric power plant, operated by the company ‘Statkraft’. After watching a fascinating film on the establishment and workings of the power plant, we enjoyed an informative tour of the main turbine hall, 700m inside the mountain. Our geography-packed day continued with a visit to the Norwegian Nature Centre in Eidfjord to learn about the region’s geological and human history, as well as the challenges posed by global warming.
After lunch, we then embarked on our drive up to the staggering Voringsfossen, Norway’s most famous (and arguably most spectacular) waterfall, plummeting 182m from the Hardangervidda Plateau.
We braved the dizzy heights of the public viewing platforms for some unmissable photo opportunities. As we continued our ascent above the treeline, signs of human civilisation gradually disappeared, with thick snow covering all but the cleared main road.
We stopped to admire the partially-frozen Sysenvatnet reservoir dam, which is one of the main water sources for the Sima power plant. The coach park was a few hundred metres away from the stone dam embankment, so we enjoyed a refreshing wade through the knee-deep snow to get there; our unseasonably warm and sunny experience so far meant we’d not had the opportunity to layer up until now!
Finally, our excursion took us atop the vast Hardangervidda Plateau – which in late April was a sprawling ‘snowscape’ extending as far as the eye could see, evoking a true sense of wilderness.
Day 4 - Husedalen Trail
Kinsarvik is conveniently located at the start of one of Norway’s most popular hiking trails – the Husedalen trail. Rising through the valley along the forested banks of the Kinso River, we enjoyed a six-hour guided hike led by knowledgeable instructors from the holiday park.
Students were put through their paces through some very steep sections of the hike which wound past four more stunning waterfalls.
However, the sense of achievement at the height of the climb was well worth it, where our instructors brewed a hot cup of tea for everyone in the group. We continued to stay hydrated by filling up our water bottles in the pristine river!
Our last evening was spent enjoying the Hardangertun’s facilities – whether that be the crazy golf, giant chess, the football pitch, or relaxing and watching a movie in the cosy cabins.
Day 5 – Archery and Canoeing
It was almost time to journey home to Derbyshire, but not before one final morning of jam-packed activities led by our on-site instructors. We tried our hand at both canoeing and archery, finishing up with a group archery competition and canoeing race. A fun-filled end to a perfect trip.
Overall, our trip to Norway exceeded expectations. In an era of Iceland’s increasing popularity, Norway was not an obvious destination, but it was a truly unforgettable geographical and character-building experience.
We can’t wait to return with Discover the World Education!