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
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
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
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.
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
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.