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  • Writer's pictureMichael Heinz

Hiking on St. Olavs trail from Dovre to Trondheim (and more)

For our 2023 summer vacation (on the occasion of our honeymoon actually) we decided for a special trip - to hike along St. Olav's pilgrim trail from Dovre to Trondheim. On our way back, we had the pleasure of visiting some more outstanding National Parks of Norway.

St. Olavsleden is the world's most northern pilgrim trail. The trial is about 600 kilometers long, starts in Oslo and ends in Trondheim. Due to work related time constraints, we could not hike the full way, and decided to start in Dovre, hiking a total distance of approximately 260 kilometers, in 12 stages.

When arriving in Dovre, we had one spare day and decided to book a tour with a guide to be able to spot the famous musk oxen. We booked the tour via Dovre & Lesja Aktiv, and the tour was well worth its money. The guide gave a lot of useful background on the animals, their behavior and guidelines for watching them, and most importantly, helped tremendously in quickly spotting the animals. The animals had been resettled from Greenland, and today a healthy population that is kept at approximately 250 individuals is living in the Dovrefjell National Park. With the help of the guide, we rather quickly spotted a male musk ox. To not disturb the animal (and risk to upset it), a minimum distance of 200 meters must be kept. We had to stay in the group, so I could not photograph the ox from too many different angles, but still got away quite happy with the result.

The next day we actually started our pilgrims trail, and crossed the Dovrefjell mountains in 4 day's stages. Certainly, the Fjell is one of the trail's highlights. The vastness of the area and mountains are simply spectular. There is a very rich wildlife in the National Park, besides the musk oxen, moose, wolverines and even arctic foxed can be observed, while of course rather rare and not easy to spot. I was impressed by getting to see a lot of wading birds in the Fjell, that come here to breed. There is a good chance to spot moose nearby the Fokstumyra Nature Reserve (which is also famous as a bird sanctuary), but unfortunately we only saw them in the area from the train on our way back :). Bluethroats seem to be quite common in the area, and can be observed also above the tree line (which admittedly, starts at quite low altitudes of approx. 1000m above sea level). I saw a lot of young blue throats, few females, but only one male unfortunately - which happened to be in very short distance, but unfortunately I only had my wide zoom mounted on the camera... Grrr....

After crossing Dovrefjell, the landscape turns a lot softer, and mountains get lower and lower towards Trondheim. I had a great opportunity to photograph a troop of cranes nearby a the town of Svorkmo. I so much love their cries, and I was able to hide very close to them, an unforgettable experience. In general, it was great to enjoy the fact that cranes are a lot more common across the Norwegian country, than they are in my home country of Germany.

In the last stage before Trondheim, we rested in a place nearby the Gaulosen Nature Reserve, located in the Fjord of Trondheim, an important bird sanctuary. I had a great time photographing the oystercatchers feeding nearby the camp site, that were not too shy luckily.

Just few kilometers before reaching our final destination of Trondheim, we had a nice surprising encounter with a fox who was in quite close distance crossing a meadow in front of us - luckily, the fox was not afraid (at all) of our German hunting terrier, nor was our terrier too much interested in the fox, which was unexpected, but welcome ...

We were so proud and happy when we arrived the pilgrim center and the cathedral in Trondheim, collected our pilgrim letter and enjoyed a cup of coffee and chocolate.

After enjoying the lovely city of Trondheim for 2 nights, our trip did not end yet actually. We took the train back to Dovre, where we picked up our car, and then on the way back south went to visit two more breathtaking National Parks for one night each - the National Parks of Jotunheim and Hardangervidda - just before we stayed for one more week in the area of the town of Rauland.

Jotunheim National Park is home of Norway's highest mountains. The roughness and beauty of the mountains and nature is sheerly amazing. Glaciers are common to find here, and once more, wild life is all arround. We enjoyed our night in Krossbu Camping and the perfect view into the mountains it offered.

Hardangervidda has no reason to fear the comparison with Jotunheim. It represents Northern Europe's largest high mountain plateau. We stayed in Dyranut Fjellstua situated along the E7, an extremely beautiful and scenic highway. On the hill up right next to the motel, I could photograph the golden as well as the common ringed plover. I like the plovers, as they are usually not very shy birds and get very close to the photographer, and often even stand on small knolls to get a better view, for the luck of the photographer. A rock ptarmigan surprised me as it suddenly appeared just in front of me - probably I saw it late due to its great camouflage.

We had our final stay in Norway nearby the town of Rauland, south of Hardangervidda National Park. I took part in a local moose safari, and we were lucky indeed to spot some of these wonderful and impressive animals. Once I knew the spot of the moose after the safari, I came back to take some additional pictures.

We deeply enjoyed and admired the Norwegen rough nature, and will certainly return. The St. Olavsleden is a fantastic pilgrim trail and we made great memories that will stay.


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