This is an absolute must-see for friends of peace and unspoiled nature. This is a hike spanning several days, only equipped with your backpack and essential items, to cross the Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjella National Park – one of the most beautiful national parks in Norway. Along barren valleys und plenty of small lakes you will be able to discover most of this magnificent area on foot. If you are really lucky you might see one of the rare muskox in their natural habitat. Apart from the unique landscape the climb of the Snøhetta is the highlight of this tour.
|Geography:||Norway, Europe||Best travel time:||May – Aug|
|Starting Point:||Dombås||Ending Point:||Dombås|
|Duration:||4 – 8 Days||Climate:||moderate|
|Required Fitness:||★★★ (without Snøhetta)
★★★★ (with Snøhetta)
|Adrenalin & Survival:||★★★|
|Outdoor & Nature:||★★★★★||Fun & Relaxing:||★★★|
|People & Culture:||—||Family & Kids:||★|
Norway is quite expensive, especially when it comes to alcohol or eating out. ATMs are easy to find and credit cards are widely accepted, even for small amounts. Almost all Norwegians speak good English and many coffee shops, restaurants and hostels offer free Wi-Fi.
As soon as you stray away from the urban centres like the capital Oslo or the city of Bergen it will get a lot harder to organise fresh supplies. We would recommend stocking up for personal requirements in Oslo or other bigger cities.
The Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjella National Park lies about 370km east of Oslo. No matter from where and how you are arriving in Norway (by plane, train or car) – you would hardly be able to avoid Oslo. From here you can take the train or car towards Dovrefjell. Starting points for the national park – if you arrive by train – can be Dombås or Oppdal. If you decide to take the car you can go to any parking lot at the borders of the national park.
You can hitchhike or take a bus to get alongside the borders of the park (E6, E136 und 70). As soon as you want to enter you have to go on foot. The park has marked paths throughout. Of course you have the option to leave these paths, but be careful: If the visibility is reduced you might come across unexpected obstacles like sink holes, water and cliff edges. If you do decide to leave the paths always keep an eye on your position with a GPS or a map.
It is generally allowed to camp in a tent, caravan or motor home everywhere in Norway. The only exception being cultivated fields and rest areas/parking lots. There are several tourist huts inside the national park – some serviced and some un-serviced. We would definitely recommend you spend a few nights in a tent. This has several upsides:
- It doesn’t cost money
- It is allowed almost anywhere
- You don’t have to plan your tours by the distance to the next hut
- You can camp anytime and anywhere spontaneously
- It’s more fun because you have the opportunity to distance yourself from civilisation
The cabins in the national park are of course not a bad option. In Dovrefjell National Park staffed lodges, self-service and no-service cabins. The staffed lodges offer breakfast, dinner, electricity usually showers (NOTE: these are only open during certain times of year). The self-service cabins are well equipped and even stocked up with different foods. The no-service cabins are similar, but of course without the food.
NOTE: The self-service and no-service cabins are usually closed. To get in you have to pick up a key from a staffed lodge or the DNT member association offices. Prices vary from cabin to cabin and can be paid easily by credit card. For more information use the following links.
You have to take your own supplies as you won’t have the opportunity to buy any food within the national park. Make sure to travel light and leave unnecessary equipment behind – you will have to carry everything on your back for several days. We recommend lightweight and filling food that you can easily prepare with a gas cooker and few cooking utensils.
You only have to take enough water for the first day. The quality of the water in Norway is excellent and there are enough fast flowing rivers from where you can take water for cooking and drinking. If you want to take water from a lake you should always boil it first as it may be contaminated with bacteria due to dead animals. With boiling it first you will definitely be on the safe side.
Before you start the tour you should check the weather or at least have a rough idea for the following days. During the tour you will hardly have an opportunity to check again for a lack of internet and network availability -except in the serviced tourist huts.
What to See
The Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjella National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in Norway. Most impressive is the highest peak Snøhetta as well as encounters with a muskox or the unique flora and fauna. The untouched and uninhabited nature is without equal.
The park offers the opportunity for a number of several daylong hiking tours. The huts within the park are all connected by marked paths. You might want to just choose a starting point anywhere along the park border and just follow the paths. We would recommend a trip from Kongsvoll towards Snøhetta, past the Reinheim hut, over the summit of Snøhetta and finishing at the Åmotdalshytta hut (ca. 30km). An easier tour would be a more direct connection from the Reinheim hut to the Åmotdalshytta hut. It would save you 4km but you will miss out on the view from the summit of Snøhetta.
There was still a lot of snow on the ground when we visited Dovrefjell in May of 2012. The walks were spectacular and the scenery quite extraordinary, but since we didn’t have crampons with us, the snow made it impossible to climb Snøhetta. We will definitely come back, do the climb and report on it here, but for now we can only offer a short summary of what we’ve researched:
With its 2286m Snøhetta is the highest mountain in Norway outside of the Jotunheimen range. The climb will take approximately 3 hours for the ascent and 2 hours for the descent and starts at the Reinheim cabin. The climb will runs continuously uphill along the north-east ridge of the mountain towards the summit. The last hour of the ascent will be quite difficult as the route runs over rocks and large boulders. But you will be reward with a magnificent view towards the Jotunheimen range and Rondane national park. Follow the same path on your way down.
Points of Interest
The muskox is the symbol of Dovrefjell and a highlight of this tour. You can either rely on your luck to see one or take one of the safaris to be guaranteed an encounter. These are a few companies offering muskox-tours in the Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjella National Park.
Tips and Tricks
- Make sure you take the right footwear as you will be hiking on foot for several days
- Avoid the huts/cabins where possible and stay in a tent. This way you will get the full outdoor experience.
- Considering the weak mobile signal throughout the park make sure that someone is aware of your route and intended length of stay
- Make sure to take clothing for all kinds of weather as it can change very rapidly
- If you get lucky enough to see a muskox don’t get too close and keep at least 200m distance
- Don’t head off without studying the weather forecast
- Don’t take to much! Only take the essential equipment in your backpack as you will have to carry it the whole time
- Don’t leave any rubbish behind in the national park. Take it with you and dispose of it accordingly at the next cabin or village.
To prepare this trip we used this map:
For me Norway is the country of unlimited freedom. I always feel very comfortable here. What makes it so appealing is the unspoilt nature and the freedom to hike and camp wherever I want to. You can let yourself go and truly unwind.
I would come back to …
- Discover other areas of the national park which I haven’t seen yet
- just truly unwind