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In Norway, the mountains are used as a source of physical challenge as much as a place to seek peace and quiet. There is a strong national tradition for mountain hiking, and therefore, over large areas of mountain terrain, things have been organised to accommodate foot travellers. Countless numbers of marked trails and routes exist as well as place for over-nighting along the way. Mountain hiking may be done from mountain hut to mountain hut, or you may choose to walk from hotel to hotel and have your luggage transported by car.
Remember, however, that mountain weather can be deceptive. It is important to bring proper clothing and equipment, including a map and compass. Local and regional touring organisations, working in co-operation with The Norwegian Mountain Touring Association mark routes and own and maintain many of the cabins. They can also give good advice about what equipment you should have for the trip. Good aid in planning your hike. Looking for a more challenging mountain experience? How about mountain climbing?
Forests stand thick over large areas of Norway, concealing their many wonders. The forests are not merely where Norwegians get their timber; they are also one of their preferred outdoor environments. The peace and stillness of the woods, the wind sighing in the treetops and the possibilities for experiencing wild animal and bird life and for picking flowers, berries and mushrooms all contribute to make forest walking inviting. You can experience the forests by following marked or unmarked trails or quiet forest roads. Please note that from April 15-September 15, open fires are permitted only in specially marked places.
Being the mountain nation that Norway is, it possesses caves and canyons that invite exploration. Canyoning especially has become a popular activity of late. You hike along a river canyon, rappelling down to the river, or, more simply, jumping into it, to be carried along on nature's own water slide. Caving treks can be carried out alone or in organised groups, but for safety reasons, canyoning is always done in a group. The best opportunities for caving are found in Nordland county; at Øyfjellgrotta Cave in Mosjøen and Sætergrotta Cave in Mo for example, where a number of tours have been organised with local guides.
If you like learning about the features of the route while you are walking, then a nature trail could be an excellent hiking option. Many parts of the country have prepared trails where signs are posted describing the nature, geology, and the flora and fauna you will find on the way. Other nature trails have signs giving historical information about to the route. Although these signs are often in Norwegian, some tourist offices provide signs or folders with information in other languages.
During the Middle Ages, the city of Trondheim and Nidaros Cathedral with King Olav who later became St. Olav, was one of the most powerful pilgrimage sites in Europe. After the Reformation in 1536, the pilgrims disappeared, but in 1997, in connection with Trondheim's 1000-year jubilee, the old pilgrims way from Oslo was marked and reopened. Most of its 500 km pass through beautiful and varied natural scenery. Work is also being carried out to reopen another pilgrimage route through Østerdalen Valley. The Pilgrims Office in Oslo can provide detailed information about the way.
Slalom slopes are flourishing in Norway. A wide variety of grades of difficulty means there are good opportunities for both extreme skiers and novices who would rather enjoy themselves in somewhat safer surroundings. Most ski resorts in Norway offer good ski-hire facilities, qualified ski instruction and top-notch après-ski venues. Our resorts are also very children-friendly, with areas specially designated for kids. Floodlit pistes are also common.
Snowboarding is extremely popular in Norway, and you can try it wherever you find a ski slope. The snowboard offers great opportunities for acrobatic and creative displays while speeding down the mountain. A good many ski resorts have special snowboard areas, often with half-pipes. And if your a real thrill-seeker there's heaps of opportunities for extreme snowboarding. Snowboard lessons are available from skiforeningen and various local operators. See Skiinfo for more information about the various destinations.For more information see Skiinfo.
Norway is ideal for cross-country skiing. The countryside is criss-crossed with specially prepared trails, used by professionals and amateurs alike. Trails vary in length, and you´ll always find one floodlit after dark. For a really varied cross-country skiing experience you can´t beat touring from cabin to cabin, or hotel to hotel. Skiforeningen and The Norwegian Touring Association have information about marked trails, equipment, mountain codes and more. Skiinfo has details about the various destinations. See The Skiing Association, Norwegian Mountain Touring Association or Skiinfofor more information.
Telemark is skiing according to an old recipe. The technique was re-discovered in the USA around 1980, and today there are almost as many Telemark skiers in Norway as there are alpine skiers. Telemark skiing requires different equipment to slalom, and if you've never done it before then you're advised to take lessons. The Skiing Association offers courses in the Oslo area. Telemark equipment can be hired at the ski resorts, and often lessons too. See Skiinfo for more information about the various destinations.
Norway hardly takes a break from skiing. High mountains and the Nordic climate make it possible to ski here all year round, even in the height of the summer. Two major ski resorts in the Jotunheimen massif and one in West Norway are open throughout the summer months. It´s certainly a unique experience to ski in shorts or a bikini under a blazing sun! And our summer ski resorts are always a hive of activity, especially at the weekends.
If you´ve never been skiing before and want to learn, or if your an experienced skier eager to learn new skills, there are ski schools and qualified instructors in most Norwegian ski resorts. The Skiing Association holds a number of courses in Oslo, and the various ski sport destinations also offer instruction. There are courses for complete novices as well as for the more advanced skier, so don´t hesitate to enrol. See Skiinfo for more information about the various destinations and what they have to offer.
Dog-sledding is an exciting and unusual way of experiencing a Norwegian winter. Tours of various distances are available and you can choose between sitting in a pulk or being drawn on skis. It´s an exhilarating feeling being drawn by dogs; no engine noise, no exhaust. Dog-sledding is a fantastic outdoor pursuit: you travel a long distance quickly, with the dogs as faithful companions. Dog-sledding tours are available throughout the country, but particularly in North Norway and in the Trysil and Røros regions.
Ever thought how Norwegians got around in the winter before the advent of the car? Well most used horse-drawn sleighs. And you´ll have to go a long way to find a more romantic form of transport than gliding along under a starlit sky, with jingling harness bells and flickering torches. It´s important to dress warmly, but more often than not you´ll be covered by sheepskin rugs and poured a nice hot toddy by the driver. Hotels often offer their guests sleigh rides as a winter experience. Contact the various destinations for details.
Sledging is no longer just for kids. A number of ski resorts in Norway now have specially designated sledging hills, with ski tows to take you and your sledge up to the top. You can either use your own sledge or hire one in resort. What´s more, you don´t need any particular skills apart from being able to steer in the right direction. Sledging is great fun and definitely an exhilarating experience. Sledging really brings out the child in you, and is the perfect activity for involving the whole family.
The snow scooter is primarily a mode of transport. The Sami also find it useful for herding reindeer. But more recently it has become an exciting, fast-moving vehicle for cross-country tours, purely for entertainment value and for experiencing the snow-covered expanses of Norway. If you´ve never ridden a snow scooter before, a safari through the wilderness is an amazing experience. Flying over bumps - it can´t get more exciting than that. Plus, you get to see areas that you?d otherwise never be able to reach.
Up-ski or snow sailing, surfboarding on snow or ice, and snow-golf are less widespread winter activities for those seeking something out of the ordinary. The "spark", an old, traditional Norwegian form of transport, is definitely worth a try. Maybe your hotel´s got one lying in the cellar? Otherwise, kiting is one of the fastest growing sports in Norway. This is where you stand on skis or a snowboard and use a kite to pull you along, steering by drawing on lines. Buzz words are hi-speed and big air.