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Nature

The natural scenery around Venabu is gentle, but nonetheless exciting. The hotel lies in the middle of a wide open plateau surrounded by rounded peaks. There are a collection of lakes & streams and in the middle of this gentle plateau there are deep gorges & high waterfalls. It’s an easy area to get around with well marked trails.

 

The wild reindeer nearby are internationally protected, descending directly from the ancient reindeer which wandered to Norway after the last ice age. There are strong restrictions on motorised transport in the area and in the winter there is a prohibition against stopping along the main road over the mountains where the reindeer migrate across. There are still plenty of remains from the old hunting traditions of former times.

 

The area has a great variety of birds and mammals. In the spring there is a cacophony of birdsong. In the autumn the area attracts hunters & berry pickers alike.

 

The winter is a stable climate, with snow on the ground for 6 months: not massive amounts but 70-120cm is the normal depth through the winter. The terrain is suitable for good cross country skiing. One can relax, enjoy the silence and study the many animal tracks left behind in the night.

 

For local geology visit http://www.rondanegeopark.no/.

 

 
       

The Flora of Venabygdsfjellet & Ringebu

The bedrock of most of the mountain area is mostly rich in acids and thus short of lime/chalk, so the vegetation is not as rich as other areas. However there are some impressive mountain plants. For example, many are impressed by the ”tyrihjelm” which grows several feet high. Some areas have a more chalky bedrock and have a completely different flora. Around Ramshøgda, the impressive hummocks covered with Dryas Octopetala are a wonderful sight in such a high mountain area. In the spring there are a large variety of colourful small plants but you have to keep your nose to the ground. Halldis has an impressive collection of slides taken in the area and once a week holds a short talk about them

In the steep sided valleys there are several rarer plants for the keen botanist.
Venabygdsfjellet has one of the highest concentrations of lichen in Norway and almost every exposed stone is covered with a collection of yellow or green growths. There are many different types but are often collectively known as the “map” lichens. These give the bare mountains a green tinge throughout the year

There are several thousand different lichens, may also growing on the trees and undergrowth. “Reindeer Moss” is common throughout the area, both in the mountains and in the forests. It’s a lichen, not a moss, and is the staple food of the reindeer in the winter! The lichens are actually two parts; a fungus and an algae, who have joined forces because they get along better together than individually. The “map” lichen can be used as a dating device, as it immediately colonises newly exposed rocks and yet grows so slowly. Exactly how old is not known, but 4000 years old is possible on exposed stones 1000m above sea level.

 

Picture gallery

 
       

A rich wildlife

All of the five major predators have been observed in our area: Bear, wolf, wolverine, lynx & golden eagle. There are also plenty of other species living here too.

Many animals lie hidden to people exploring the mountains. They lie hidden under the snow and trees and move to areas where few people are to be found. However, we often, see trails of hares, foxes & stoats, and higher up in the open mountain areas see tracks of the wandering wolverine or where reindeer have stood grazing on windblown mountain sides. During the summer it is harder to see the trails but we have the bird song, starting in the spring with the continuous cuckoo. Many of the small birds are summer visitors but the bullfinch and several others are to be seen throughout the year. Large grey goose flocks fly over the area twice a year too.
On our guided tours in the summer we are often followed by the characteristic double tone of the golden plover, who rush from hummock to hummock to follow our progress. Ravens scrounging for food are also a common view.

Things change, and the once common starling is seldom seen. For many years the ptarmigan has become less common but following a local prohibition on hunting of ptarmigan the numbers are up and we see them close to the hotel, flying up in front of you as you walk towards them, issuing their characteristic warning call. The eagles fly overhead, but not with as regular frequency as previously, and it’s been a long time since a good lemming year, usually associated with a good cloudberry harvest. The lynx and moose lie low in the forests but in the summer can be seen in the mountains. Farm animals seen in the mountains are now almost exclusively sheep, as there are no longer goats in the local farms. These previously kept the vegetation down and with summer farms all but closed, the tree line and other species of plants are climbing ever upwards. The traditional breeds of cow and horse have also been replaced by newer breeds.

The wild reindeer herd is now at a stable level after years of hunting bans and controls. 30 years ago they were more or less extinct but are now healthy and well looked after by the authorities. The reindeer have a dominating position over the planning authorities when it comes to deciding the limits of building roads and tourist developments.
The reindeer and ptarmigan attract many hunters to our area, including the well known professor Friis who wrote a well read book on the mountains.

The authorities have ensured good conditions for hunters and fishermen. For example, water from the river Mya has been led to some of the still lakes in the area, and a series of small channels between the lakes allows oxygen rich water to flow and the mountain trout population to expand. There are also a couple of lakes perfect for ice fishing, be it trout or perch.

In reality, all wild animals are protected and there is still a rich variety of wildlife on Venabygdsfjellet. It is important for that to continue. In the food chain the smaller animals are prey for the larger ones, so let us not forget to look at the whole picture when considering the future. 

www.venabu.no  is managed by Lars Tvete. Updated: 12.01.2012