The Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord areas have the reputation of being amongst the most beautiful and impressive natural areas in Europe.
For the last 150 years scientists, artists and tourists has visited these fjords to experience a unique and dramatic landscape full of contrasts. Despite the large numbers of visitors, the area has managed to retain its qualities, for the benefit of the residents and visitors to the area.
The Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord constitute the largest fjord landscape in Norway.
The West Norwegian Fjords consist of two unique areas which lie about 120 km from each other. The Geirangerfjord at Sunnmøre belongs to the innermost part of Storfjorden. The Nærøyfjord area is one of the side fjords of Sognefjorden. Together these two areas are classic examples of fjord landscape.
The two areas are distinctive each in their own way. To a large degree, the landscape in the Nærøyfjord area is shaped by water and rivers, and characterized by rounder mountain tops than the partly alpine landscape in the Geirangerfjord area. Together these areas consist of 1227〖km〗^2, of which 107〖km〗^2 is sea.
The two areas complement each other with the special geological peculiarity and their landscapes. Erosion caused by glaciers during the quaternary and other geological processes has created the steep mountain sides along the fjords. It is still an active geological environment, with rock falls and fan-shaped landslides and avalanches. In the middle of this magnificent, fascinating, and for some frightening and isolated fjord landscape, people live and still make their living from traditional agriculture and tourism. There are six settlements with a total of 473 inhabitants within the West Norwegian Fjords. This occupies 1.4 percent of the total land area. Apart from these settlements there has not been any major technical or modern intervention in the nature in these areas. Therefore, they constitute the largest untouched fjord landscapes in Norway.
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Pecularities in the Geirangerfjord area:
Herdalen-Dyrdalen: : an important area to help us understand the processes that have contributed to the making of the characteristic fjord landscape, namely the growth and retreat of glaciers.
The Tafjord- area: a unique area that shows us how large rockfalls have filled the bottom of the fjords with masses of rock and left scars along the mountainsides. It is important to study this area to understand the history of the bedrock and the shaping of the landscape.
The Sunnylvsfjord: a large rockfall has left huge masses of rock at the bottom of the fjord. A large part of the mountain at Åkerneset is actively moving. This area shows us and helps us understand the processes associated with the instability of the steep mountain sides in the fjord landscape.
The West Norwegian Fjords are classic, superbly developed fjords, considered as the type locality for fjord landscapes in the world. The geology and the continuing erosion has provided a basis for active development of ecological and biological processes in addition to the development of traditional, and some marginal use of land which does not damage the landscape as a natural area. The fjord landscape is magnificent and beautiful, and it has become one of the most visited in the Nordic countries.