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Hardangervidda

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Scandinavia : Norway : West Norway : Hardangervidda
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Hardangervidda is a National Park in the Hardanger region of Norway.

Hardangervidda is Norway's biggest national park and the largest higland plateau in Northern Europe. Half of the plateau is a national park, to protect Europe's largest wild reindeer herds.
IMG 7114K Vesle Nup.jpg

Understand

The endless higland plateau of Hardangervidda is about 8500 km², which is 20 % the size of the Netherlands. Hardangervidda national park covers 3,422 km² (1321 square miles). Hardangervidda is famous for the large herds of wild reindeer. An extensive net of hiking paths and thousand lakes and rivers cover the vast higland plateau.

History

People probably came to Hardangervidda at the same time as the reindeer, after the last Ice Age. About 250 Stone Age sites have been found, the oldest dating from 6300 BC. Finds from excavations of Stone Age sites show that the people hunted reindeer and ptarmigan; moose and trout bones were also found.

Today, the natural resources on Hardangervidda are very valuable for the surrounding villages. Hardangervidda National Park was established in 1981. It differs from other Norwegian national parks because it has been used a great deal by local people, has many buildings and much privately owned land. Consequently, people use mororized vehicles to harvest resources like fish and game, to upkeep buildings and to run lodges and huts for hikers and skiers. Large flocks of sheep graze Hardangervidda each summer. Both locals and tourists come to Hardangervidda to fish and hunt, as a source of food or recreation.

This treeless, endless view is typical for the mountain plateau.

Landscape

Hardangervidda is a barren, treeless mountain plateau at 1100-1200 metres (3600-3900 feet) elevation, with lakes, moors, rivers and streams. There are significant differences between the west side, which is dominated by rocky terrain and expanses of bare rock, and the east side, which is much flatter and more heavily vegetated. The prominent peak of Hårteigen 1,690 m (5,545 ft) is visible across much of the plateau.

About 550 million years ago, the plateau was submerged. Gradually a sheet of rock drifted over the seabed, was compressed, folded and rose from the sea. What is now Western Norway rose the most, and greater erosion created deeper valleys, fjords and steeper mountains than in the east. Glaciers and melting ice at the end of the last ice age chiselled out the landscape we see today.

You might think it is easy to spot one of Hardangerviddas 9000 wild reindeer, but that is not the case. They are shy. If you see a herd, consider yourself very lucky. Don’t try to follow them, but stand quietly and enjoy this rare sight.

Flora and fauna

The whole of the Hardangervidda is above the tree line. Its alpine climate enables the presence of many species of arctic animals and plants further south than anywhere else in Europe.

Norway is, to all extents and purposes, the only country in Europe with remaining vestigial populations of the original wild mountain reindeer. Wild reindeer need Hardangervidda. The 9000 wild reindeer (2009) here make up more than a quarter of all the wild reindeer in Norway. The large, continuous unspoiled area makes Hardangervidda particularly attractive to wild reindeer. Because the herds migrate between seasonal pastures and calving areas over the course of the year, they need a wide area. Wild reindeer are at their most vulnerable on the winter pasture and in the calving season in May.

The flat landscape with its numerous lakes and wetlands distinguishes Hardangervidda from other mountainous areas in southern Norway. Trout is the most common fish. The largest populations of many kinds of ducks and other wetland species in southern Norway, live here. The breeding populations of black-throated divers, scaups, velvet scoters, common scoters, dotterels, Temminck’s stints, great snipes and shore larks are particularly valuable.

Climate

The climate is considerably wetter on the west side than on the east. At any time of year, be prepared for sudden changes. The weather in Hardangervidda National Park can change very rapidly from sunny and warm to cold and rainy or even snowy, so it's important to bring along extra layers of clothing, like wool underwear and wind- and waterproof outerwear. For most people, late spring, summer and fall are the best times of year to visit Hardangervidda. Easter skiing across Hardangervidda is also popluar, but is recommended for experienced skiers only. The winter storms can be challenging even for polar explorers like Amundsen. Many of the villages and cities surrounding Hardangervidda are popular all year round destinations.

  • Summer: June to August. Daytime temperatures range from 10 to 20°C and occasionally over 20°C in lower elevations. Nights are usually cool (between 10 and 0°C), but temperatures rarely drop below freezing at higher elevations. In general, there is no snow on Hardangervidda in summertime. In June though, there might be some areas still left snow covered.
  • Spring & Fall: May and September. Daytime temperatures range from 0 to 15°C with 0 to -10°C in the night. A lot of the plateau remains snow covered in May, and early June there will still be some left at higher elevations.
  • Winter: October to April. Temperatures often range from 5 to - 15°C throughout the day, but temperatures as low as -30 °C can occur. In the nighttime, temperatures are usually below zero. Snowfall is highly variable. Sometimes, the ground is snowcovered from October to May, other years the snow might not cover most of Hardangervidda before December.
File:Norways national parks Hardangervidda.jpg
Hardangervidda lies in the heart of southern Norway, halfway between Oslo and Bergen.

Get in

There are a lot of gateways to Hardangervidda national park. Gateway cities and villages are Odda and Eidfjord in the Hardanger region and the mountain destinations Geilo, Uvdal, Rjukan, Rauland, Haukelifjell and Røldal.

By air

Hardangervidda is located a 2-3 hours drive from the major airports. The closest major airports are Bergen Airport (2 1/2 hours drive to Eidfjord), Oslo Airport Gardermoen [1] (3 1/2 hours drive to Rjukan), Oslo Airport Torp in Sandefjord (3 hours drive to Rauland), and Haugesund Airport (2 hours drive to Odda).

By car

From Oslo to Hardangervidda by car 1) E 18 from Oslo to Drammen. From Drammen, follow E134 to Notodden. From here you can follow rv. 361 and rv. 37 to Rjukan, or continue on E134 to Åmot in Telemark and then take rv. 37 to Rauland. 2) E18 from Oslo to Sandvika. From Sandvika you take E16 to Hønefoss and from Hønefoss you follow rv. 7 to Geilo.

From Bergen to Hardangervidda by car E16 to Voss and then rv. 13 to Granvin. You then continue on rv. 7 to Eidfjord and then drive to Geilo. You can also start exploring Hardangervidda from Ulvik and Kinsarvik/Ullensvang.

You can drive to the gateways and see the mountain plateau from your car, but there are no public roads for driving inside the national park border.

By train

From Oslo to Hardangervidda by train You can take the train from Oslo to Bø in Telemark. From there you can catch "Haukeliekspressen" to Rauland. You can also take the Bergen Railway from Oslo to a number of places that are great starting points for exploring Hardangervidda – Myrdal, Finse, Haugastøl, Ustaoset and Geilo.

From Bergen to Hardangervidda by train The Bergen Railway stops at number of places that are great starting points for exploring Hardangervidda – Myrdal, Finse, Haugastøl, Ustaoset and Geilo. You can also take the train to Voss and a bus from Voss to Eidfjord.

For train timetables, see [2]

By bus

From Oslo to Hardangervidda by bus Take "Haukeliekspressen" to Haukeli or take the bus to Geilo or Rjukan – both good starting points for exploring Hardangervidda.

From Bergen to Hardangervidda by bus Take the bus from Bergen to Voss. From Voss catch a bus to Eidfjord.

For bus timetables, see [3]

Fees/Permits

There are no public roads for driving inside the national park border, and no entrance fees to get in to the national park.

You need to buy permits to go fishing or hunting on Hardangervidda. Children under 16 years fish for free. Because more than half of Hardangervidda is owned by private land owners, there is no common fishing permit for all the lakes on Hardangervidda. But there are some common fishing permits for larger areas, like the Hardangervidda west, the Hardangervidda east, Vinjes part of Hardangervidda, Ullensvang, and Møsvatn permits. A 24hour fishing permit ranges from 50 to 70 NOK, and a week permit from 100 to 300 NOK (2010). You can buy the permits at the tourist information offices, cabins, hotels and lodges in the area close to your favourite lake, or go to [4](this site is in Norwegian).

Driving around Hardangervidda in spring is a nice way to experience beautiful and diverse scenery. You can see apple blossoming in Hardanger, Vøringsfossen at its most powerful and the snowy mountain plateau, all in one road trip. This picture is from rv7 over Hardangervidda in May.
File:Hardangervidda map.jpg
Hardangervidda map, where the dark green line marks the national park border. Click twice and zoom in to see details properly.

Get around

By car

Driving Hardangervidda National Park Route [5] is a great way to experience the scenery around Hardangervidda. Drive further, from fjell to fjord on E 134 over Haukelifjell and continue on rv 13 to Hardanger with Odda, Eidfjord and further on rv 7 over Hardangervidda to Geilo, along the national tourist route [6]. This must be the ultimate Hardangervidda driving experience with fjords, Vøringfossen and mountains in 2-3 days.

You can drive to the gateways and see the mountain plateau from your car, but there are no public roads for driving inside the national park border. This is where you can get close to the national park by car: - Route 7 across Hardangervidda; several convenient stops and branch roads to the national park. - Route 40 from Nore and Uvdal to Geilo, several stopping places and branch roads to the national park. - Route 364 to Tinn Austbygd, branch off to Breisetdalen and park at Stegaros or Synken; boat across Mårvatnet from Synken to Mårbu. - Route 37 to Skinnarbu by Møsvatn and continue on the boat Fjellvåken to the lodge at Mogen. - E 134 from Haukeli to Jøsendal, several stops and branch roads to the national park. - The route from Jøsendal to Brimnes, several stops and branch roads to the national park.

On foot

Once you get out of your car and set your feet on the great mountain plains, the best way of getting around is hiking, skiing, cycling and horsebackriding. You have to hike some hours to get into the national park, depending on which gateway you choose. Try the extensive network of hiking trails and cabins offered by The Norwgian Trekking Association [7]. Cycling is only allowed on a few tractor roads inside the national park, but you can still experience Hardangervidda on bicycle. Try the famous Rallarvegen [8], or cycling from Rjukan to Kalhovd [9]

See

East: Geilo and Uvdal

South: Rjukan, Rauland, Haukelifjell and Røldal

Gaustatoppen, (15 km from Rjukan). Gaustatoppen is 1883 m elevation and one of Norway's most majestetic mountains. You can admire it from a distance on your way to Rjukan or one of the villages nearby. You can also do like 25 000 others do each year: Climb it. It will take you about 5 hours both ways. You will get your reward on the top, where you can see one fith of Norway on a sunny day.

West: Hardanger with Odda, Ullensvang and Eidfjord

North: rv 7 over Hardangervidda

Do

Buy

Eat

East: Geilo and Uvdal

South: Rjukan, Rauland, Haukelifjell and Røldal

West: Hardanger with Odda, Ullensvang and Eidfjord

North: rv 7 over Hardangervidda

Drink

East: Geilo and Uvdal

South: Rjukan, Rauland, Haukelifjell and Røldal

West: Hardanger with Odda, Ullensvang and Eidfjord

North: rv 7 over Hardangervidda

Sleep

Lodging

East: Geilo and Uvdal

South: Rjukan, Rauland, Haukelifjell and Røldal

West: Hardanger with Odda, Ullensvang and Eidfjord

North: rv 7 over Hardangervidda

Fagerheim Fjellstugu, (in the middle of Hardangervidda, next to road 7). Has road access throughout the year. 1170 m, you can gaze across a glittering mountain lake and enjoy fantastic views in all directions – not least towards the impressive Hardangerjøkulen glacier. Recently restored mountain lodge with pleasant common rooms, a fireplace and bedrooms with a touch of nostalgia. No en suite rooms, and no whirlpool baths! Separate showers for men and women. 20 rooms/55 beds. You won’t have to share with people you don’t know. If you have a dog, it is welcome to stay in your room. Weekly rentals of brand new luxury apartments with panoramic views of Hardangerjøkulen. Mountain café during the Easter holidays and over the summer. You will be served decent, hearty, well-made food, with no frills. We made good use of what nature has to offer and our meals include trout from the surrounding waters, as well as game, mushrooms and berries from nature’s larder. You may not be able to choose from a ten-course menu, but a good filling meal of traditional food. Fully licensed.

Camping

East: Geilo and Uvdal

South: Rjukan, Rauland, Haukelifjell and Røldal

West: Hardanger with Odda, Ullensvang and Eidfjord

North: Rv 7 over Hardangervidda

Backcountry

Stay safe

Get out

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