National park Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella
I’m currently studying in Norway for 5 months, and that means also enjoying all the beautiful things Norway has to offer me. And last weekend that meant spending 2 days in national park Dovrefjell. The national park of the musk oxen… It was about 2,5 hours driving from my campus in Evenstad, For Norwegian terms that is pretty close by… for Dutch terms, it is really far. But with good friends and good views, we were there before we knew. For this weekend we had a guide available who will show us the beautiful places we were able to visit in this short time span. And we were going to wild camp just outside of the national park! I hoped for some beautiful hikes and wildlife, but I got way more than expected! Keep reading to find out what I thought was the best 🙂
On both days we had a beautiful hike throughout the National park, the first one we went up to the famous Norwegian Wild Reindeer Center Pavilion, it won the World Architecture Festival back in 2011. Here we started with an introduction over the park, the animals that are living here and of course some safety briefing. After the talk, we had some time to walk around and make some first expressions from the park the lady from the pavilion told us she saw some Musk oxen pretty close by! That was all we wanted to hear of course.
After the first experience in the park, the plan was to take the bus deeper into the park and start hiking from there. This bus was 65 Norwegian Kroner single tour and brings you close to the foot of Snøhetta. Most of the tourist come there to hike up the Snøhetta, which is the highest mountain in the park. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time for that…
Time to go!
So the guide decided to use another path that crosses through the different hills with minimal difference in height, so it was perfect for the people who were not used to hiking. But it was a beautiful path to get an impression of the park. We were walking between 1400 and 1500 meter above sea level, so we were in the alpine zone. And that is really impressive if you from a delta country as The Netherlands. We were walking over mostly rocks, there where some lichens and mosses growing. And for me, the most confusing part was that we were walking through snowstorms, not even once but four times! And that in August, Which normally means full summer for me.
The other day we had a beautiful hike as well. We were on the other side of Snøhetta and started from the valley up the mountains. We were climbing up to 1000 meter, so a bit lower than before. Because we where lower we did not have snow but hail instead… And because we were lower there was much more vegetation growing and therefore more wildlife who made the most of the last weeks before the snow would arrive.
One of the biggest reasons to come to National park Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella was the presence of the Musk oxen. This animal has been shot to extinction in the past but because of recent reintroduction, they managed to get a new population in the park. In 1940 they started with this project, they captured wild musk oxen in Greenland and transported them to Dovrefjell. It was a project with lots of downs and little ups. The first animals they brought to here did not manage to survive, so they had to do it many times before it succeeded. At the moment there is a population that has about 300 individuals.
All these animals come out 8 musk oxen who are brought here. So there are some problems with the genetics at the moment, but the disease that comes with it. But there is good hope that it will be a flourishing and healthy population in the futher!
There are many more species living in the park. The other most famous one, besides the Muskox, is the wild reindeer. We were not that lucky to see them as well. But that is mostly because they are really shy. There are grouses living there as well, capercaillies… And many different birds. Owls and bigger birds of prey. We saw an owl flying up a couple of times when it got disturbed by the musk oxen we were following, a funny sighting.
But for me, this trips was more than perfect just because I saw nature that is so different than I’m used to. Temperatures that are out of my comfort zone. That I had these hikes where I had so much fun jumping around over the rocks. And the big highlight, getting so close to the family group of musk oxen right in front of Snøhetta. Therefore, I could make that amazing picture.