Hardangervidda Area Mountains Guide

Hardangervidda Area Mountains

Introduction

If you ever flew over Norway you probably noticed: This country is mountains with a few valleys in between! This observation is mostly true. Norway has a lot of mountains, but not anywhere is there such a big undivided area as Hardangervidda. Hardangervidda is a vast mountain plateau unique in Europe. Here you can walk for days, even weeks without meeting people or seeing any sign of their existence and still be following the straight line from one point to another. No roads. No towns. Only you and the heavenly open terrain which let you see that you are the only one there.

Terrain

Hardangervidda is big, actually it's the biggest mountain-plateu in Europe, and it has endless possibilities. What is perhaps most surprising is the big differences. The eastern part is what most people think of a vast mountain-plateau, namely a great flat area where you almost always can see a few miles in all directions. This area, which is mainly east of Sandhaug and south of Ustaoset provides a terrain where hiking is easy and weather usually nice. A great place to start a mountaineering-career! In the north the plains are abruptly broken by the great Hallingskarvet. This mountain, although only a few kilometers wide, is more than 30 kilometers long, reaching from Geilo to Finse. Because it's so high (up to 1930 metres) it's visible far away. Also easy-visible is the glacier of Hardangerjøkulen. As Hallingskarvet, Hardangerjøkulen is easily seen from the Hardangervidda road on clear days.

The western part of Hardangervidda is more diverse. The terrain has mountains and valleys giving the landscape a more diverse character than the eastern part of Vidda. Here and there a steep mountain rises from the rest of the terrain, like the famous Hårteigen about which is said - it lies there like a big goat-cheese from the Gods. The elevation on this part of Vidda is mostly 1000 - 1400 m above sea level, but this is abrupt broken by the Hardangerfjord, where the terrain suddenly falls down to 0. The mighty valleys here are extraordinary beautiful with their contrasts, views and waterfalls.

Wildlife

Hardangervidda has the biggest number of wild reindeer in Europe. The deer are not a part of the original wild deer flock in Scandinavia, but are descendants from tame reindeer from the 1800s. Otherwise you will find rabbit, red fox, arctic fox, lynx and various smaller animals (mouses, weasels, lemmings) as well as different kinds of birds (including everything from small sparrows via seagulls and ravens to eagles). Many places you will find herds of sheep.

Legal status

Hardangervidda has always been an area local people has used for hunting and other economical purposes. It was therefore not an easy task when Minister of Environment Gro Harlem Brundtland wanted to declare the area a national park in the late 1970s. This was the first national park in Norway where a major portion (50%) was private property. Nevertheless, the park was a reality in 1981. It covers an area of 3430 sq. km, which is most of the area between the Hardangervidda and Haukelifjell roads. In addition to this there are two areas protected from construction; the Møsvatn area and the Hardangerjøkulen area.

The biggest environmental issue on Hardangervidda in the 1900s has been the debate over construction of hydro power plants. Before the national park came, one of Norway's biggest hydro power plants was built at Sima. The most visible sign is the vast Sysendam which is easily spotted from the Hardangervidda road.

Hardangervidda - Routes

Getting there

The easiest way to get to Hardangervidda by public transport is by far using the Oslo-Bergen railway. Depending on what kind of tour you want, you can get off at Ustaoset, Haugastøl, Finse or Hallingskeid. The three first stations has at least three trains a day, while only one train stop at Hallingskeid. If you go by train, an option is to combine the trip with a train tour from Myrdal to Flåm, a masterpiece of a railway, descending a wild valley down to the fjord. This tour can be combined with a boat tour on the Sognefjord.

In the summer there are bus-services at least twice a day from Geilo to Eidfjord which brings you to other start points such as Fagerheim, Dyranut and Liset. Note that this bus stops at the famous waterfall Vøringsfossen between Liset and Eidfjord. From the south you can approach Hardangervidda from Haukeliseter, which has regular bus-service (twice a day) from Oslo, Bergen and Haugesund. Another option is to approach from the north at Geiteryggen which also has a regular bus-service from Bergen and Oslo. The access points along the fjord of Hardangerfjorden are also accessible with public transport from Odda og Eidfjord. Note that most people choose to end here, instead of start because of the big altitude-difference.

With a car the possibilities are endless. You can park just about everywhere. Note the following restrictions in winter: The road between Liset and Haugastøl is usually closed December - April. The road from Haukelisæter to Røldal usually has "kolonnekjøring" during bad weather-conditions in winter. This may lead to long delays. Check the forecast before you go. The same applies to the road Aurland - Hol, though the conditions is normally not so tough here.
Hardangervidda - Routes

Routes

Hiking

Many nice hiking-trips can be done in the Hardangervidda area. Most will choose to hike between lodges, but this a not a necessity. The eastern part of Hardangervidda will give easy hikes in flat terrain with great view. Many choose to start in the north or west from the road or railway and go south and east. This to ensure falling terrain and sun in the face! Those who want a bit more interesting terrain can safely choose the western part of Hardangervidda. Here you will find a more diverse terrain. A good option might be to start at Dyranut or Halne and go west to Hadlaskard or Litlos.

For those who want to make their own way, the southernmost part of Hardangervidda is a great area. Here you will find everything for the most untouched by people; no paths, no lodges. Bring your camping gear, maps and knowledge!

Most will find the trips up the valleys from the fjord a bit tough, but the hike the other way is recommended. The hike from Stavali to Kinsarvik is beautiful! So are the hikes from Tyssevassbu to Espe or Tyssedal. On these hikes you will go down a valley from the open mountain to the fjord and see all the differences on the way, in terrain, vegetation and wildlife. Not to mention all the waterfalls!

Hikes around Hardangerjøkulen can be tough, but gives the great feeling of being near the glacier. Especially on the west-side, you will have great views over blue ice-falls falling down the valleys from the icecap towards the fjords.

Skiing

Hardangervidda is a great place to ski, but the conditions can be tough early in the winter. Many routes are usually marked in March, especially around Finse, which is a very popular place wintertime. Check out the routes with DNT. It's also perfectly possible to go on your own, but you should know what you're doing. Some areas, particularly on the western part of Vidda have a lot of avalanches. In the Easter, everyone seems to go to Finse and then south towards Haukeliseter. If you come in Easter, it could be smart to avoid this route.

It's usually possible to ski on Hardangervidda from December to May. Skiing trips in the west in late May or early June can be very nice!

Glacier Tours

Glacier hiking is mostly done on Blåisen on the north of Hardangerjøkulen and on Rembesdalskåkji on the west. There are organized day-trips on Blåisen from Finse. DNT has week-long glacier courses on Finse and Demmevasshytta - a lodge just by Rembesdalskåkji.

Cycling

The Alpha prime-number 1 mountain-bike route in Norway is on the old road by the railway from Haugastøl pass Finse and Hallingskeid to Myrdal and down to Flåm by the Sognefjord. This is a very nice trip but is best done in July-September because of the amounts of snow west of Finse. The trip will take about 3 days. A problem is that this trip has become so popular the last years that it might be troublesome to get a place to stay, at least at Finse. Maybe you should bring your tent?

Another very nice short cycling trip is from Dyranut to Eidfjord. This will bring you from high mountain to fjord, and down the famous Måbødalen. You will have a great trip down the old road, while all the cars pass by in tunnels...

Suggestion

Intermediate

A great route if you want to see the diversity of Hardangervidda and Norway in general: Start at Dyranut and go to Bjoreidalen, Sandhaug, Hadlaskard, Stavali and Kinsarvik, from where you can take a bus back to Dyranut or elsewhere. This trip will take 5-6 days, with overnight stays at staffed and self-service lodges. This is a summer hike.

Advanced

This is a great ski-trip I did in May. As we lived in Bergen then, we took the train to Finse a Friday night. The morning after we went up to the top of Hardangerjøkulen. From there we made our own way down by Luranuten and down to Rembesdalseter. The next day we followed the edge of the fall down to the Sima-fjord on the north side. After 20 km we could ski down the steep hillside to Kjeåsen, and old farm 500 m up in the hillside, and we then followed the steep path down to the fjord, from where we walked to Eidfjord. The contrast from the skiing down the hillside to the summer in the valley made this a very memorable weekend.

Tourist Information Centers and Others Around Hardangervidda Mountain

Hardangervidda is a National Park

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 and it is the southernmost outpost for the artic fox, snowy owl and numerous other artic plant and animal species. The national park is also renowned for its numerous lakes and rivers abundant in mountain trout.

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. Most of the area is easy to hike in, and the Norwegian Tourist Association (DNT) and local tourist boards keep networks of marked trails open and there are many DNT cabins on the mountain plateau. Rjukan Tourist Information Office can help you with more detailed information and suggestions for hikes.

Eidfjord kommune comprise two high mountain regions - Hardangervidda and Finse/Hardangerjøkulen. The two regions are divided by hwy 7 across Hardangervidda. In fact, with the exception of the villages down by Eidfjorden, Eidfjord kommune is one large mountain region. Eidfjord kommune borders to Ulvik, Ullensvang and Hol kommuner.

Excursion, Bird Watching at Hardangervidda

Day excursion with local ornithologist.
NO-5783 Eidfjord
Phone: 53 67 34 00
turistinfo@visiteidfjord.no

Hardangervidda Nature Centre Eidfjord

In beautiful and dramatic Western Norway, at the foot of the Vøringsfoss waterfall and by the ascent of the Måbødalen valley, lies the Hardangervidda Nature Center at Eidfjord with its breathtaking but unobtrusive architecture.

7 municipalities and the local tourist offices around Hardanger

Find Details About Hardangerfjord (Hardanger Fjord) Tourism Info and Tourist Offices

Hardangervidda area mountains



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