The Rondane Tour: A guide to the trek
Walking guides - see all our background pages
Why this area of Norway?
During a wonderful first season on our inaugural Norwegian trip, the Jotunheimen Tour, we returned to Norway and set about researching a trip which explores a slightly different part of Norway. Heading North by train, we had stopped at Lillehammer, at Otta (for the Jotunheimen) and later at Oppdal and Trondheim. From Otta, buses run in the opposite direction to the Jotunheimen, to the Rondane National Park, and so we looked into the Rondane.
Initially we aimed to cover three distinct areas of Norwegian walking on the SAGA (so named in Norway) or Lillehammer to Snøhetta trip, which can be combined into this long trip or walked as separate trips, each with a different feel. The theme was a South to North crescendo from the wooded hills above Lillehammer, through the famous Rondane national park, to the tough peak of Snøhetta in the wild Dovrefjell national park. It’s really as Norwegian as it gets!
The Rondvassbu hut and a clear three-day trail through the surrounding mountains, felt to us like the highlight of the Lillehammer to Snøhetta and the perfect way to explore the landscape, and so we came to focus on our Rondane Tour. We see the route in the context of the original Lillehammer to Snøhetta route, and so on this page we will discuss the Rondane Tour and also the North and South additions.Photos from trips: Rondane Tour
Alpine Exploratory offers the following holidays based on our Rondane research:
The Rondane Tour
Length: 3 stages
Start: Rondvassbu after bus to Spranget
End: Rondvassbu for bus to Spranget and a night in Otta
The famous Rondane peaks are in view on all sides as we trek a circuit of 3 stages. We start and end at Rondvassbu, the main hut in these hills. We reach Rondvassbu itself by a 6km walk along a smooth track, from the parking area at Spranget with its bus stop.
As we walk in this 6km, the hills turn to mountain peaks and the route enters the Rondane national park, Norway’s oldest national park founded in 1962 when public sentiment turned to preserving the nature of the country. The mountains themselves as opposed to the valley trails can be rocky and sparse, lichen and heather covered. We reach Rondvassbu, the chief DNT hut in the area and the main way into the mountains. It is likely to be bustling with Norwegian trekkers coming and going.
From Rondvassbu we hike to Bjørnhollia, taking the path West past the chain of lakes lining the Illmanndalen valley. The hut Bjørnhollia is charming in its small valley system, hidden until we are near it, the Norwegian flat fluttering. We leave Bjørnhollia to climb higher up the rounded hillside, cross the river, climb the small open col and drop to Doralseter. Here we find two separate huts and a view North beyond the Rondane. On our last stage we retrace our steps and then drop South towards the Rondvatnet, the lake that extends towards Rondvassbu. The day can easily be shortened by taking the ferry the length of the Rondvatnet lake which cuts off 6km; otherwise we climb steeply to the Rondhalsen col and desend steadily on the West side of the lake, cross the outflow and turn back to Rondvassbu.
The DNT, Den Norske Turistforening, is the Norwegian trekking and travel association. The DNT runs many mountain huts and maintains information offices in Norwegian towns. We include the year's DNT membership with all of our Norway treks.
The DNT's website
What is the route like underfoot?
The walking in the Rondane covers a hugely broad range of conditions, but on our route stays largely in the valley. There is one substantial col crossing, the Rondhalsen, on the final stage. Otherwise, expect smaller cols and more undulation. The path is sometimes wet underfoot with frequent small stream crossings and some large ones. The paths are generally good, firm underfoot, and overall there is little boulderfield terrain to cross.
A stout boot is called for with good ankle support. The higher sides of a boot, as opposed to shoe, are essential and also useful to keep water out on the occasional boggy sections or small stream hops.
Comparisons with the Jotunheimen
Our 6-stage Jotunheimen Tour is more consistently tough than the Lillehammer-Snøhetta, definitely more than the Rondane Tour, though it is hard to characterise the trips in simple ways. As a week's introduction to Norwegian walking and hut life it's hard to beat the Jotunheimen, for those who are up to the challenge. The Rondane Tour is less committing in terms of time and difficulty.. a super introduction.
In terrain the Rondane, on a valley route, is less challenging but it still includes some potentially tricky sections such as at river crossings, on climbs and on remote cols.
Considering the Rondane Tour as a whole, the route is fairly similar in style to the Jotunheimen. It treks through valleys - slightly easier overall - and over small passes, linking super catered huts.
How is the navigation?
Navigation is thankfully quite simple compared with the Alps! The path network is generally clear with often only one or two path options to take on a given day. Paths are well waymarked when needed and the Norwegian mapping is solid with detailed coverage at 1:50,000. Paired with our Routecards you should feel confident.
It is worth noting that in bad weather - strong wind and rain, or in particular low cloud - navigation can be tricky and after a mistake it could be hard to regain the path. This is wild country where the path is our saviour; otherwise we are on entirely open and unmarked hillsides.
Hike the Rondane with Alpine Exploratory
Alpine Exploratory offers the 3-stage Rondane Tour:
Our self-guided holidays give you what you need to complete the route under your own steam. We book your accommodation in a mix of huts and hotels and we give you our detailed routecards, the local maps, and lots of notes. Importantly we will advise on the ideal schedule and accommodation to suit your approach to Norway.
Our guided trip is similar but gives you the benefit of an Alpine Exploratory leader to show the way.
Rondane Tour enquiry form
Alpine Exploratory is a system of knowledge on the best mountain trekking in our areas, giving clients superb holidays based on this exploration.
© Copyright 2020 Alpine Exploratory Limited. Company no. 5521173. VAT no. 995 9044 61