Northern Norway: Day 11: Svartisen and Gronligrotta

This was the only day when we didn’t continue on our route, but we wanted to see Svartisen glacier near Mo i Rana. In the same direction there were also two caves: Gronligrotta and Setergrotta, so we wanted to visit either one of those if it was only possible. It poured rain the day before, but luckily the jacket and pants dried during the night. The warm riding gloves were still wet as well as riding shoes, so I had to go with lighter gloves and my off-bike Converse shoes. Luckily the day was sunny and relatively warm, so there was no need for warmer equipment.

We went for the hotel breakfast in the morning and then slept a bit more in our room. At some point we forced ourselves up, so we could manage to see at least something. All three places are located in the same direction, so road E6 to the north from Mo i Rana and there will be at some point road signs to Svartisen and the caves. Svartisen glacier was our number one priority, so we headed there first and it was a smart decision. We arrived there approximately quarter to one in the afternoon and it turned out that the boat across lake Svartisvatnet to Svartisen will leave at 13:00. In July it departs every hour on the hour, so we arrived just in time. Return ticket on the boat cost 150 NOK (approx. 18€) per person. We got to leave our helmets in the small cabin on the beach, where the lady who sells tickets stays. We had doubts about leaving expensive helmets there, but it turned out to be a very good idea as I wouldn’t have had the patience or the strength to carry a heavy helmets to the glacier and back.

The lady who sold tickets asked us if we had any water with us and in fact I had brought a half a liter bottle of water with me, which turned out to be not nearly enough. I recommend to have at least half a liter bottle per person and if the day is sunny, then definitely more than that.

So we stepped into the boat and the trip to the other side of the lake took about 20 min.

Boat across the lake

The water in the lake was of a strange color of mud, which was very different from other bodies of water I’ve seen in Norway.

View from the boat

There was a waterfall on the other side of the lake.


When we got off the boat we noticed a very well-marked path to the glacier.

Marked path

After about 1 km we arrived to the source of the waterfall.


The path was quite easy to walk and there weren’t any challenging roadblocks. At this point of course the day started to get warmer and we were quite hot in our biking gear. At this point we didn’t realize that we didn’t have enough water with us, but it would not have helped anyway because there was nothing on this side of the lake except rock and tourists, so we continued jumping from stone to stone. The total one-way trip is about 3km and I sincerely recommend wearing some other shoes than Converses. They are quite slippery and offer no support for the ankle or the heel, so on the way back my feet hurt already. Although I’m not sure whether riding shoes would’ve been any better.


The trip continued until you could see the glacier.


It turned out that 3km walk is only until you can see the glacier from a distance. After that there is plenty of Danger zone signs, so walking up to the glacier is on your own risk. There is no marked path, so you need to find your own way. I don’t know how long it is, but it took us at least half an hour to get close to the glacier.


The trip back was much less pleasant than the way to the glacier because the weather was rather hot, we ran out of water and the trip down took some jumping from stone to stone in bad shoes, which of course resulted in sore feet. In addition to this we almost got lost as we ended up in some place where we weren’t sure how to get down from, so we had to take a small detour. Finally we were back on the shore waiting for the boat back. The boat schedule back is 10:20, 12:30, 13:30, 14:30, 15:30, 16:45 and the lat return is at 18:45. The return times are available on the boat, so you better make sure. If you miss the last boat, you can walk a 4km road along the lake. I didn’t see any road, so I guess it’s more of a small path. I would recommend showing up on time before the last boat back. 🙂

Because the time was past five when we got back on the shore, we decided to check whether there was still a chance to see Gronligrotta. Setergrotta has no lighting and you need a head lamp and a jump suit and some parts of the cave are rather tight, so you need to crawl through them. In July there were two times you could get into Setergrotta (at 11:30 and at 15). Normally there is just one entrance time at 15. We had no chance (nor energy for that matter) to visit Setergrotta, so Gronligrotta was our only option. We knew that tours are arranged every hour on the hour, but we weren’t sure when was the last one. We drove to Gronligrotta and there was just one unpaved road leading ti it, which was uneven with sharp turns. When we finally got there it turned out that the last tour is arranged at 18 and we would make it just fine. From the Gronligrotta ticket sale point you could get a very nice view of Svartisen. Also we could finally buy some water!

View of Svartisen

The entrance fee was 130 NOK (approx. 16€) per person. You can enter the cave with a guide, but it is a rather easy cave for walking and it has electric lighting. The cave had some small waterfalls and the rocks were wet, so once again I’d recommend some other shoes than Converse, because those puppies are as slippery as hell.

Otherwise the cave was a bit of a disappointment. I’ve been before to some nice stalagmite caves in Croatia and Hungary and this was a basic cave with the underground river being its only special feature.

Underground stream
Water swirl

The exciting thing was that the cave had a lot of humidity and the water condensed on the cave walls and looked like shiny diamonds on photos.


The guide told some basic things about the cave and answered a few questions. The tour took about 45min and if you’ve been to caves before it doesn’t really offer anything new.

After that we returned to the hotel (driving a steep hill down on an unpaved road with sharp turns was also kind of exciting), we took a shower and then decided to have dinner in the hotel’s restaurant Soilen, which is known for using only local ingredients. This time the food was good, but it was pricey as well. For two people’s dinner we paid 1400 NOK (approx. 175€). With this money you could get some really inventive dishes, but in Norway all it got us was really good home cooking. 🙂

Main course
Main course

After this we went back to our room to pack and to get a good night sleep because the next day we’d need to leave early and it would be a very long day.

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