Road trip through Southern Norway 2013 — Part I

I don’t travel exclusively for photography, but instead I find that making an effort to capture a place in a photograph adds to the intensity of experiencing the place. In the case of a destination such as Norway, an important function of the trip is to be out in the fresh air and overwhelming nature. I hope that I can convey some of that experience through the text and photographs that follow.

This was my second trip to Norway – my first one was with friends in 2009 and spanned the whole way from Narvik to Bergen. This time, I decided to focus on Southern Norway and take a closer look, but despite this goal I covered roughly 1900 km in 17 days – from July 19 to August 4 in 2013. This trip was actually preceded by a six-day trek through Hardangervidda, which is the large green blob you see on the map about half-way between Oslo and Bergen. After that trek, I came back to Oslo airport where I rented a small car to start over.

After struggling to find the correct road to actually leave the small town close to the airport (Jessheim), I drove past Mjøsa, Norway’s biggest lake, to Elverum, where I did my groceries. Since Norway is an expensive country and also because it is more flexible and fun, I prefer to travel in a very simple style, which means sleeping in a tent and cooking my own food on a portable gas stove. Once I had found what I needed, I proceeded to Trysil, where I found a nice camping site – Trysil hyttegrend – to stay for the night.

The next day, I proceeded on the same road towards Femundsmarka. The whole stretch from Mjøsa onwards closely follows the Swedish border and is perhaps one of the most continental places on Norwegian territory. As the road winds itself through the deep forests, I always get a feeling of vastness which is almost unknown in a small country such as Switzerland, and the sparsity of cars greatly contributes to the sense of freedom. Along the road, there are various interesting things to discover: the inland fjord Engeren, which was warm enough to take a short swim; the area of Bittermarka, where I shortly left the main road to find a very idyllic landscape full of small ponds and lakes. Upon reaching Femunden, another big lake and Norway’s third largest, I took the road heading to Gutulia National park. There, I had this trip’s first encounter with reindeer. Unlike the really wild reindeer which I have never seen in the wild myself, the ones you will encounter by car are usually not shy at all, and you have to be patient because they are not scared even if you almost touch them with your car.


South-eastern end of the large lake Femunden


This very small National park is a perfect place to spend one or two days. It has a lake and very nice virginal forests around it. When I arrived in the afternoon, there were a couple of visitors, but they all left and by the time it got dark, I was completely alone in the park (except for the people at the mountain farm).


Loneliness in Gutulia



Strong winds over Gutulia National Park’s lake – Gutulisjøen


I decided to hike the highest point in the park, Gutulivollen. There is actually only one marked trail in the entire park which passes by the farm Gutulisetra and it ends on Gutulivollen. Nevertheless, I managed to lose the trail on my way back and ended up following the terrain to go back to the lake. The virginal forests are quite an amazing sight. After the hike, I took a bath in the lake. It was cold, but since there was no shower (quite obviously!), I had no other choice.




Passing the tree line on the flank of Gutulivollen



Undergrowth of the virginal forest on the north shore of the Gutulia lake



Close to the camp site



Not a volcano despite the looks — Gutulivollen


The weather had been quite mixed and windy, but that evening clouds were getting thicker and there were even a few drops of rain. The following day (July 22), I left Gutulia back to the main road at Femunden, and drove around Femunden to Røros. Until 1977, this had been an important copper mining town, and there is a nice museum which takes you on a journey into the technology and cultural history of copper mining. The models of wooden mining machines are actually moving and very impressive. After the museum visit, I proceeded to Støren and then south to Oppdal. I could have taken the road through Tynset, but the northern road seemed more interesting and I don’t regret it – the drive along the river Gaula and the valley is very impressive and beautiful.

Huge pile of copper in Røros.

Huge pile of mining waste in Røros.


I drove straight through Oppdal since my destination was Dovrefjell National Park. However, I had planned to do a stop somewhere along the way. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a nice spot and it was getting dark, so I simply drove all the way to the parking lot close to Kongsvoll. I knew the place from my previous trip, it lies at the intersection of the famous Pilgrimsleden and the E6.

Dovrefjell is an extremely impressive mountain landscape whose highest elevation is Snøhetta at 2286 meters. The specialty here consists in the musk oxen which are roaming around freely. They are known to be fierce defenders of their herd and fast runners, so a safety distance of 200 meters is recommended. During the next days, I made a few hikes into this park. The weather was extremely nice and warm at 26°C, which was almost unbelieveable. The last time I had been there, it was 5°C and there were very strong winds.

A lone musk ox is going home after dusk

A lone musk ox is heading home after dusk

Please stay tuned for the next part!