Paddling a canoe down the Alta River is a plunge into the world of salmon fishing, and a moderate physical challenge that's within most people's capabilities. But most of all, it's a wonderful way to experience nature. Tour company Glød offers guided adventures for small groups on the Alta River, something that almost everyone can manage. Alta has a stable, dry and relatively warm climate, so this is a delightful summer excursion.
The deep, broad Alta River flows down through the valley towards Alta. Low mountains rise up to the east, and the base of the valley is covered in pine and birch. Farms are scattered among the meadows and hay fields, and there are lots of holiday cabins. Suddenly, a pair of mallards takes off, and there are always plenty of songbirds at the water's edge. The scenery radiates peace, and even the sound of the paddle in the water feels like part of the landscape.
The downriver journey takes you through some rapids. This is where you need to paddle harder, so that you are going faster than the water, allowing you to steer. This is great fun, and not at all difficult or dangerous. The canoe may suddenly decide to make an unexpected turn, or you may run aground, but if the helmsman at the back is doing his or her job properly, you will soon be heading the right way again.
It takes two
There is room for two people in a canoe, but a third can squeeze in as a passenger. The person at the back steers with the paddle, and makes sure that the canoe is on the right course. The helmsman decides who should paddle on which side. The person sitting at the front is the one who has to paddle hardest. It takes a bit of time to master the technique of steering, so there might be a few laughs, some accidental encounters with the river bank and some differences of opinion, but you soon get the hang of it.
The Alta River is one of the best salmon rivers in Europe, and is extremely popular for salmon fishing in the summer. In accordance with the Alta River's traditional rules, no fishing is allowed between 12.00 noon and 6.00 pm, meaning the river is free for other users. Along the banks you will see tents and camper vans full of sleeping fishermen — what's daytime for you is night for the fishermen.
Lunch on the bank
Lunch is included in the trip, and is prepared in a lavvo tent in the pine forest. The speciality is fish baked in foil over the camp fire, followed by dessert and campfire coffee. If it's raining, you sit in the lavvo, but it's usually dry in Alta so you can sit outside on benches. As it takes a little while to make the food, you get a lovely, long, relaxing lunch break.
Canoe trips on the Alta River are offered by tour company Glød. Their certified instructors give you a quick introduction to the art of canoeing, and then it's time for the boats to be put onto the water. You have the chance to practise steering and paddling, and then the group sets off. A minimum of two people are required for a trip, and the groups are never large. The distance is tailored to the group, but about 10 km is the norm. Wear suitable outdoor clothing, including ordinary trainers. Take a change of clothing, which will be packed into a waterproof bag so that if you fall into the river, you'll have something dry to change into. As you'll be wearing a lifejacket, you're in no danger if a canoe tips over — you'll just have a funny story to tell your friends.