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Company and history

Over 40 years of adventure travel and expeditions. Norrøna Adventure is Norway's largest organizer of expeditions and adventure travel. Norrøna Adventure is the new name of Hvitserk & Eventyrreiser AS, which in its time was established after a merger of Hvitserk AS and Eventyrreiser AS.

Before 2005, Eventyrreiser had, for almost 30 years, offered exciting adventure trips for adventurous and curious people, to all corners of the globe! When Ulf Prytz started Ulf Prytz Adventure Travel in the 70s, it was the first Norwegian "adventure" operator. Unique trips far off the beaten path, with great respect for local culture and nature  were the organizations founding principles. For a period the company was part of another, larger operator, but in the early 90s new life was breathed into what then became Eventyrreiser, with globetrotters Britt Hansen, Nora Weyer Larsen and Lars Hagen at the helm.

In 1997, Hvitserk was started by polar explorer Sjur Mørdre, polar explorer and globetrotter Lars Ebbesen and Africa, ski and equipment specialist Martin Gudbrandsgård. The idea was to share the experience and the joy of hiking with more people, by arranging "expeditions for everyone". Hvitserk was the first Norwegian operator with expeditions to the South Pole on the program. Alongside expeditions to polar regions, high alitutde mountain climbing was also an important part of the organizations tour offerings. 

You become narrow-minded from just being at home. Traveling makes you wiser. Travel is a wonderful tool for breaking down prejudices.

Norrøna Adventure boasts a rich history spanning over 40 years. The story revolves around bringing Norwegian women and men to places—lands, mountains, and rivers—they never even dreamed of, to peaks they never imagined they could conquer, crossing countries and enduring the elements. The goal has always been to provide moments of joy that will remain in their hearts for years to come. Throughout its history, Norrøna Adventure has had various teams and names. Yet, the common thread among all participants, partners, and guides is their deep passion for travel, a love for both the world and their homeland, and a desire for more people to see and experience it.

Do you want to know more? You can read (almost) the entire story here:


So – how did it start?

Norrøna Adventure is now the new name of Hvitserk & Eventyrreiser AS, which was established after a merger of Hvitserk AS and Eventyrreiser AS. Hvitserk as a tour operator name is over 20 years old, but it started long before that:

1979 - Ulf Prytz Adventure Travel AS is established.
1989 - The rights to Adventure Travel are sold to Kinareiser
1989 - Kinareiser changes the name of Adventure Travel to Eventyrreiser
1997 - Eventyrreiser is bought out by Kinareiser
1997 - Hvitserk is established
2007 - Hvitserk and Eventyrreiser merged into one company
2017 - Hvitserk of Norway AS is established and Norrøna Sport AS joins the team
2019 - Hvitserk of Norway changes name to Norrøna Hvitserk Adventure
2022 - Hvitserk og Eventyrreiser purchased by Norrøna Sport and both travel companies come together under the same umbrella
2023 - Norrøna Adventure is based at Norrøna House, Lysaker, where we are passionate about continuing to create great experiences and lasting memories for our guests, to destinations all over the world.

The eighties

The year is 1979. Ulf Prytz had been on a mission for NORAD together with adventurer and climbing friend Odd Eliassen to develop Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania. Odd built cabins along the Marangu route and Ulf was tourist manager for two years from 1977. The experiences in Africa made an impression on him. Magnificent nature, rich wildlife, and brilliant people who represented other values and challenged his own outlook on life. Ulf had a heart for nature and outdoor life and a lot of experience from mountain trips and climbing in Norway and the Alps. After training in hotel hospitality, he studied social studies and medicine, before dropping out and accepting a job as a tourist manager on Kilimanjaro.

During this period, "adventure travel" was gaining recognition globally as a distinct form of travel characterized by active experiences, small group sizes, distant destinations, and a focus on nature and local culture. Ulf decided to share his African adventures with others. A small seed of an idea—a dream—was planted: to bring more people on journeys to places they had never even heard of. This led to the founding of Norway's first adventure travel company, Ulf Prytz Adventure Travel AS, on June 25, 1979.

Adventure Travel - Eventyrreiser

Adventure Travel was a pioneering business in Norway at its time. Emphasizing unique journeys far off the beaten path and with a profound respect for local culture and nature, it stood out with its innovative approach. To grasp the audacity of this endeavor, one must consider the prevailing travel trends among Norwegians at the time. While the allure of European interrail journeys and beach parties in popular destinations like Mallorca and Benidorm had sparked enthusiasm in the 70s, the notion of venturing to Asia, Africa, and South America remained far removed from the average Norwegian's imagination. In a landscape dominated by charter operators like Stjernereiser and Tjæreborg, and with only a handful of exotic options such as Globetrotter, establishing a small travel company focused on group adventures emphasizing activities and authentic experiences, rather than beach parties and sunbathing, represented a bold leap into the unknown, far ahead of its time.

The business of Adventure Travel at this time was approximately 17 destinations with over 30 more scheduled departures; Nepal, Tibet, Turkey, the Caucasus, Kilimanjaro, Kenya, Peru, Galapagos, Hawaii, Morocco with the Atlas Mountains and the Hoggar Mountains, Australia, Canada, Antarctica, and Svalbard, with a focus on sailing trips in the summer. About 15 tour leaders were involved, including Nora Weyer Larsen and Lars Hagen from 1987, while Britt Hansen took over the office from Bente.

In 1986-87, Ulf split up the company. But the company was struggling – the trips were not filled, there was a lot of work, and little money. But Ulf's eternal enthusiasm and management skills kept the boat afloat until the great financial crisis in 1989 - then everything stopped! Finally, he gave up and filed for bankruptcy. But Ulf did not run away; he cleaned up the pieces and sold the house to cover the liabilities. The rights to Adventure Travel were sold to Kinareiser, which changed its name to Eventyrreiser. As a result, no travelers were left stranded at airports around the world.

Ulf was down, but not out.

The nineties - Development of tourism in Svalbard, and new investment in adventure travel

After the bankruptcy, Ulf turned around, founded Summit AS, and stitched together a Svalbard program with mini cruises and the "World's Northern Most Hiking" from his experiences and contacts from the 80s. He signed a lease on the small ship MS Svalbard and arranged sales agreements in England, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway including with DNT (The Norwegian Trekking Association) which guaranteed the boat hire. Using Summit's agreements as an incentive, he invited Lars, Mads Forsberg and a few others to join in the establishment of Svalbard Polar Travel A/S in 1990. The the Norwegian Parliament had just decided that Svalbard should be opened up to managed tourism, which together with mining and research/teaching should be pillars for Norwegian presence and assertion of sovereignty in the region. This was big policy, and Svalbard Polar Travel became an important player in this development. Lars Hagen moved to Longyearbyen as general manager with responsibility for operations from 1991 to 1995. Lars was in his mid-twenties and had hung around Adventure Travel's offices in Skippergata in the mid-eighties. Lars had also seen the world. As a young glacier guide and climber, he had both tackled Norway's mountains and peaks, and travelled the globe climbing peaks elsewhere in the world; primarily in Africa and on Kilimanjaro. Lars was self-willed, fearless and determined, but with a smart and disarming smile. Ulf was working chairman of the board with a focus on marketing and development. Running inbound tourism with the whole world as a market was easier than outbound tourism from the small Norwegian market to destinations all over the world, and the company made money from day one. In 1995, they built and opened the Polarhotellet (now Radisson Blu Hotel Spitsbergen), with SND and Møller Eiendom as partners, among others. Ulf, Lars & Co sold the Svalbard operations to Hurtigruten in 2002.

Eventyrreiser "resurrected"

At the same time that Ulf and Lars invested in Svalbard, Britt Hansen, who had worked for Ulf, and Henriette Aas at Kinareiser were given responsibility for the new branch "Eventyrreiser" in the early nineties. In the meantime, there was not much time for innovation and development. Travel to China was enormously popular at this time, and Kinareiser had more than enough to satisfy the customer base on these trips. Britt, Henriette, and eventually Lars, thought about starting their own travel company. But it felt pointless to have to compete against something that already worked and that could obviously be further developed. The trio decided instead to go to China Travel and ask to buy out Adventure Travel. This became a reality - Kinareiser was positive about letting the enthusiasts take the concept further and kept a small ownership stake themselves.

My best memory is my first trek in Mustang, northwest Nepal, which was opened to limited tourism in 1992. This was Tibetan people and culture without Chinese. Only a few Westerners had been there before. It was a journey into another time and into a spectacular mountain landscape.

Britt Hansen

The trip to Reunion was Lars' idea. I think it was in 1998 that it ran for the first time and it quickly became a bestseller. It is still organized.

Nora Weyer Larsen

The new Eventyrreiser moved in 1997 to the roof on Karl Johansgate, between David Andersen and Samson on Egertorget. A fantastic room with a glass ceiling. A bit difficult to find, admittedly - but the customers who found the office had in many ways qualified as adventurers and participants of demanding adventure tours. Henriette and Britt were sitting in the office, Lars was on a trip. Nora Weyer-Larsen, who had also been a tour leader with Ulf and now worked as a guide for Kinareiser, quit to become part owner and active tour leader in the new venture

Two Swedish tour participants had messed up with their visa, it expired twelve hours before our entry into China. Brutal border guards in tight uniforms and big hats refused to let them in. The Swedes were put on a local bus back to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan. They called a few days later and said enthusiastically that they had had a wonderful bus trip and had been very well taken care of by the Kyrgyz passengers.

Nora Weyer Larsen

At the start, the customer base was relatively adult - adventurous women and men looking for different and exciting experiences. Knowing that the travel experience is linked to the number of participants; the more people traveling together, the more the travel experience deteriorates, a group should never have more than 16 participants. The process of arranging a trip was quite different from today. The earliest trips were organized per telephone, letter and occasionally by fax. It went well, just took longer. From the end of the 90s, the company used e-mail and quickly got its own website. Marketing in the 1990s was largely based on the catalogue, which was sent out in large numbers. The customers found Eventyreiser - and they found each other. There are several good examples of participants becoming lovers and getting married after meeting on a trip.

Britt Hansen

So how did Eventyrreiser manage in the years 1997-2002? It went well, but the market did not improve substantially. It went on and on for these ten years - still 2-3 employees, a turnover of approx. 10 million annually and with modest salaries. But enthusiasts have never been interested in a lot of money, have they? The most important destinations were Peru, Nepal and Tanzania, eventually also Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Mongolia and Reunion. Then there was a safari in Kenya, trips to Syria and Jordan and bike tours in Vietnam, the Indian Himalayas and Cuba. Not to mention India – Rajasthan, Sikkim, Kashmir, Ladakh, Goa, Kerala.

India was hopeless, not selling at all. No matter how wonderful the India tours were, no matter how much enthusiasm we had – it didn't help; people just didn't want it. A separate India catalog was even printed - before the company realized that it was simply to be forgotten, no matter how beautiful it was. It was generally difficult to get people on trips to places they had not heard of.

Lars Hagen

20th century 

The late nineties and early 2000s were turbulent times in the Norwegian economy. Norway was riding a wave of prosperity. The combination of good finances, more work flexibility and ultra-low flight prices meant that everyone could travel. The journey was no longer reserved only for the wealthy part of the middle class. Weekend trips cost as much as a weekend in the city of Oslo. Suddenly Thailand was everyone's property! This resulted in people quickly acquiring alot of travel experience. They quickly got tired of just lying on the beach – the concept of activity holidays and combination trips quickly became a travel product that appealed to many. Expeditions that Kagge and Ousland led in the early 90s were role models for many people. Many now saw it as an opportunity to do something similar. It almost became summit hiking fever and expedition hysteria, it became "Everest for all"! 

Hvitserk is established

In 1997, a competitor of Eventyrreiser - Hvitserk AS - joined the popular wave for adventure and  travel. 

Hvitserk is a name in Norway that carries a multitude of concepts within its name: adventure, expedition, travel, culture, and exploration “Hvitserk” is the name of the Vikings on Greenland's highest mountain. When the Vikings sailed from Iceland to the South-Western Coast of Greenland in the 10th century, the 3,693 meter high mountain on the East Coast of Greenland was an important landmark. After leaving Iceland, they did not land until the white, snowy mountain emerged as a "lighthouse" in the distance.

The idea was to share experience and the joy of hiking with more people by arranging "expeditions for everyone". The seasoned expedition adventurer and polar explorer Sjur Mørdre and advertising expert and polar explorer Lars Ebbesen, as well as ski, equipment  and Africa specialist Martin Gudbrandsgård, had also carried the dream of getting people out on a trip. They had already made trips over several years, either separately or together. Hvitserk became the first Norwegian operator with expeditions to the South Pole on the programme. Alongside expeditions to polar regions, climbing high mountains were also an important part of the tour offerings. The tours were a little more expensive and a little rougher than Eventyrreiser's tours. At the same time, they had a number of trips that were similar, such as trekking in Nepal and Kilimanjaro.

They were supported by Tove Voss and Globetrotter, who provided a travel guarantee and helped with tickets. Per Arnfinn Brekke quickly joined the team, and Anette, Tore and others gradually. The plan was for them to earn their own wages, which meant that everyone had to go out to be tour operatives. Although the mantra was "expeditions for everyone", the idea was that all trips, regardless of scale, should have preparations and a safety culture similar to trekking. This produced results, and built a fantastic guide culture where training, follow-up and the environment became important cornerstones - something that stands strong to this day. The guides are, after all, our "face to the outside world".

In these years, Hvitserk published a fantastic annual calendar with pictures from his trips/expeditions. The calendar was distributed to customers and good industry contacts as a marketing initiative. The calendars were so beautiful that they are still hanging around on the walls of travel-loving people. But a calendar was not enough to sell trips; Posters were hung up, advertising leaflets were placed under the windscreen wipers of cars in Maridalen, Sørkedalen, Frognerseterne and Lommedalen. Lectures and party evenings were held, the participants received t-shirts and badges, and a book was written; "Now it's your turn" - everything to create interest in trips to high mountains and cold regions.

The merger

The challenges Hvitserk faced were like so many others have experienced; a lot of work, great desire to travel, but hard to earn money. In addition, more help was needed in the office. The need for an established administration and more space continued to grow. Several possible mergers were considered, but in 2006 Ebbesen, Mørdre and Brekke appeared at Eventyrreiser and asked if they should move under the same roof. They were about the same size, no major competition problems, had nice premises, a good office culture and sales structure and - tada! - a new dream was born! From there, it wasn't very long from one play to the next; maybe they should simply merge. The idea was not that inconceivable after all. In 2007, the Adventurers and the Hvitserkerne met and decided to merge the rags into one company.

But what should the new organization be called? Adventure travel or Hvitserk? A generic name versus a special name. It was of course a compromise; Hvitserk & Eventyrreiser AS. Hvitserk moved into the loft in Professor Dahls gate in Oslo. Cramped - but a lively and playful environment with guides and administration working in harmony. Sissel Korstad Weng and then the Dane Kristian Joos, led the company in the first years after the merger.

Welcoming the youth

The merger led to room to redefine and further develop the program. But the company eventually needed new blood. The leaders of Hvitserk are all the same age and are officially grown ups. What about the new generation? We need to know what the young people want from trips, where they want to go, what kind of trips they want...these of course are tomorrow's customers of Hvitserk.

In came Trygve Sunde Kolderup. Trygve was in his early thirties and was first introduced to Hvitserk at a barn in Lommedalen in 2004 when he packed brochures to get a discount on a trip to Greenland. Trygve came as a writer, author and editor from the magazine publisher Fri Flyt. He was a mountaineer and skier and had lots of energy, exciting ideas and was action oriented. With Trygve, the company gained a resource to realize ideas and thoughts that had bee laying dormaint in the minds of the organizations predecessors. Eventually Marit and Rasmus also arrived... a completely new generation of knowledgeable travel and outdoor enthusiasts with new ideas and visions. Where Lars Hagen represented security and experience, the newcomers were able to unleash the potential of Hvitserk's brand. This happened at the same time as the demand was there. Their portfolio grew, there was interest in new destinations and new activities. The mix of safari, hiking and more demanding expedition trips was very successful.

Hvitserk's basic philosophy...

Responsible tourism has been a basic premise for the business since its inception. Hvitserk arranges trips to vulnerable natural areas, and thus has a great responsibility. The company has been concerned with showing respect for the local nature and culture - as well as limiting the footprint and making a difference for the local population.

Problem and dilemma - ideally we should just close the shop in the morning, so it's about making people aware when they travel, pay attention, leave as little footprint as possible, travel far but rarely and be away for a long time when you first leaves. We can do a lot of things by using our voice.

Lars Hagen

Hvitserk is helping to set standards in the travel industry. It is important and satisfying to be able to make a difference. In Nepal, Hvitserk has followed and given support to a guide who has established a company as a local organizer with fair conditions for their employees.

In 2015, Nepal was hit by the most powerful earthquake in the country in 80 years. Over 8,500 people perished. Hvitserk was active in the reconstruction and air work - and worked to raise awareness of the need for both emergency aid and help in the work to get society functioning again.

Today – wow, what can we say? Hvitserk has trips to 60 countries, 60 guides and over 2,000 guests each year. Hvitserk has always wanted to be something more than a tour operator. That is why we get involved in school building in Nepal, help finance wildlife corridors in the Masai Mara in Kenya and develop National Tourist Trails in Norway. It is one way our desire to travel can contribute to positive development.

Trygve Sunde Kolderup

Since 2011, guests have had the opportunity to contribute 10 NOK per tour day to various aid projects - primarily in Kenya and Nepal. In the autumn of 2013, the company went a step further and established Stiftelsen Varde. The foundation is run under the auspices of Norrøna Hvitserk and in recent years has given between NOK 100,000 and 200,000 per year to various aid projects.

The trick is to have reliable suppliers out there. It is extremely important to constantly ensure the quality of the product. If the subcontractor is not good enough, we have to help them further.

Lars Hagen

 ... and new developments

In 2012, Hvitserk releases the travel news: Destination unknown. The idea is as follows: You order and pay, but do not know where you are going. You just turn up at the airport and bet that it will be a nice trip, regardless. It requires a lot of a company's credibility to be able to carry out such a scheme. Does anyone dare? The first tour sold out in less than one hour, and the announcement of the first tour destination was broadcast live on TV2's Good Morning Norway news program. The trip went to Oman. Since then, this has been an annual event. So far the destination has been Panama, Japan, Columbia and Nicaragua.

What do we want with Hvitserk? We just want people to see the world. Experiencing, activity, observing, moving in other people's nature, culture. Meeting people and listening to their stories, taking in the smells, enjoying the tastes. The journey is part of our life - be moved, challenged, touched, reflected, tired, happy, drunk, happy - Hvitserk wants to give you all this through its tours.

Rasmus Ramstad

In 2017, Hvitserk of Norway was established. The company operates inbound tourism. The idea is to take foreigners to Norway on the type of trips Hvitserk organizes abroad. By opening an offer for international tourists, the company will significantly strengthen the visibility of the Hvitserk brand. It is a new and great way to capture new customers. One of the co-owners of the new company was Norrøna Sport, which since 1929 has been a leader in the development of durable hiking clothing and equipment. The synergies were optimal for a collaboration and in 2019 Norrøna Sport became the majority shareholder, and the company was renamed Norrøna Hvitserk Adventure AS.

All Hvitserkers; participants, staff and guides - are adventurers with broad experience and knowledge. They have the spirit of discovery intact, are extremely fond of nature and people, they hunt for new impressions, new tastes, new cultures, new things to think about, enjoy. They will develop, both spiritually and physically, through the journey, quite simply. Hvitserk is a crew of enthusiasts with a touch of madness.

Marit Vidnes

Norrøna Adventure - A new era

After 2 years of the complete shutdown of overseas operations during the pandemic, we were finally able to arrange our first trip again in March 2022. In the meantime, Lars & Co had pondered the idea of ​​handing over the helm to new owners. In the summer of 2022, Hvitserk & Eventyrreiser was thus acquired by Norrøna Sport, and Norrøna Adventure was born.

2022 showed that people are still curious about Norway and the world. We're more enthusiastic than ever, and ready to show you all the adventures that await out there.

Faithful participants for 40 years

Has the traveler changed in the last 40 years? Surprisingly, people remain much the same, with fewer changes than one might expect. We're fortunate - Norwegians excel at hiking - they understand it requires hard work and isn't just a pursuit of ego. You won't find better hiking companions than Norwegians. It remains true –– despite increased wealth, they haven't become more individualistic or egoistic.

Lars Hagen