62km (38 miles) S of Olden

A town without road connections until 1986, Fjaerland lies along the banks of the Fjaerlandsfjord, a scenic branch of the greater Sognefjord. Overpopulation is hardly a problem here. Back in the Viking age, some 300 hearty souls lived here. Amazingly, today's population is about the same number. Locals tell us that dozens of its stout-hearted citizens emigrated to America at the turn of the 19th century, heading for such places as the Dakotas or Minnesota. Looking around at the stunning beauty of the area makes us wonder why they left in the first place. The landscape, shaped by glaciers through various ice ages over the past 3 million years and by towering mountains, glacier rivers, and U-shaped valleys, has attracted landscape painters from all over the world.

Mountaineers find the terrain here some of the most challenging in Norway, as both the Supphelle Glacier and the B√łya Glacier come down to the floor of the valley in Fjaerland. Both of these glaciers are "pups," the term for chunks of ice that fall from a massive glacier -- in this case, Jostedalsbreen, the largest on the European continent. The lower Supphelle, at an elevation of 60m (197 ft.), is the lowest-lying glacier in southern Norway.

The center of the Fjaerland is a section called Mundal, with a church, school, shops, and accommodations. Its population, incidentally, is the most well-read in Scandinavia, so it's not surprising that Fjaerland is called "the book town of Norway." Book lovers from all over the world come here to peruse its shops, especially its legendary secondhand-book shops.