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Hordaland county, in west Norway, has so much more to offer than Bergen and Trolltunga, as exciting as these two popular destinations may be. Beginning in the Hardangerfjord area, Folgefonna National Park is a haven of untouched nature and biodiversity that will equally stun you no matter what time of year you visit. Here’s what you need to know before you go.
Hardangerfjord is one of the most breathtaking fjords in Norway. Apart from being a destination of its own merit, with fruit orchards lining the fjord every spring, the Hardanger area is also home to Folgefonna National Park. Spanning four municipalities, the park is incredibly diverse from a geological standpoint.
Here you’ll find Norway’s southernmost glacier, which is also the third largest in the country. There are mountains, lakes and many waterfalls – the imposing Furebergfossen being one of them. There is also exciting fauna to be observed: golden eagles (that nest in the valleys reaching up towards the glacier), a plethora of red deer and the rare white-backed woodpeckers are only some of the species you’ll encounter. Folgefonna National Park was established quite recently, in 2005, when it became clear that the biodiversity of the area needed to be preserved. Since 2017, there is also a visitor’s center in Rosendal that provides information about the area in collaboration with climate researchers and oceanographers.
One of the top things to do in Folgefonna National Park is, of course, glacier hiking. The Folgefonni Glacier Team will take you on a guided blue-ice hike, a snowshoe hike, ice climbing or even cross-country skiing across the glacier (where you’ll also get to spend the night). There is a summer ski resort offering alpine and cross-country skiing as well as snowboarding. There are hiking and walking trails, as well as self-service mountain cabins where you can rest overnight. You can walk to Juklavatnet lake and visit the Bondhusdalen and Buardalen valleys. Whatever you choose to do first, make sure your phone and/or camera is fully charged: you will be taking a lot of pictures.