Every year the beautiful mountains of Norway turn into winter wonderland that you can criss cross with dog sledding, lightweight ski’s for cross country or alpine skiing. This is what we all did during our Christmas stay in Norway. We were first-timers in Norway and definitely this calls for more. The day before Christmas we arrived at Herangtunet boutique hotel after a scenic drive along stunning nature from Oslo Gardermoen. Herangtunet is in a unique location in the Valdres region between Fagernes and Beitostolen. Almost for a decade it is run by Marco and Marie-José who decided to swap city life in Amsterdam and to build a dream in Norway. Herangtunet has several timber buildings which were covered under a blanket of snow. All the rooms and suites have their own character and it is incredible to see how many attention is paid to all the details. Marco and Marie José have created a place where you are touched by magic. This is a place where you feel instantly at home. For a few days we have indulged ourselves in all the luxury they have to offer from the best foods and wine amidst a breath taking scenery and at night a starry sky. At Herangtunet you can do as much or as little you would like. We alternated between reading books in front of our stoked fire, enjoying the star quality meals or stretching our bones by going outside to explore the beautiful surroundings which was crisp, white and silent as in a fairytale. Our most remarkable experience was going for a dog sledding expedition by Beito Husky tours. The Husky’s fell over themselves to greet us when we arrived – they were all jumping for joy with fast swishing tails. It seems that sledding should be easier when you can ski, of course it concerns balancing and shifting of your weight carefully. However, the first hour of mushing was quite extensive. When you are about to start, the dogs jump and whine and want to run with an unexpected strength and loudness. At that moment you think the calmness won’t come back ever. After crossing the lake and climbing further where the trees got more dense and the snow thickened, the dogs became very quiet. It is almost a mindless activity – you have to rely on your body when you should lean and when you should use the break or to step off to help the dogs. Trust me they look back funnily enough when you are not working or helping them on steep hills. Most importantly never let go of the sled although you feel like to ride the sled with one hand. The views of the unspoiled nature are enhanced by stillness only interrupted by the sound of the sled moving across the snow and happy husky’s crunching the snow beneath them. At midday we stopped to have a lunch in the middle of nature – around a freshly stoked fire we ate our soup while the dogs could rest a little. Dogsledding is not just a sitting ride instead it is an energetic and sometimes a strenuous activity. Especially when you need to help the dogs uphill, finding your balance while going down again and using the brake at the right time.
Herangtunet is also a short drive to a ski area (Beitostolen), for a day we went skiing there. The slopes with their views on the frozen lake are beautiful but does not offer that much challenge as the Alps. Norway is the true home of cross-county skiing and we wanted to try it out. After having a lesson we went up to the track – it was a sunny day but with a very harsh wind. The movement is similar to ice skating and involves a pronounced motion of back and forward of the arms. Due to the strong wind, keeping your balance was quite a challenge. Our journey went to beautiful Arctic tundra landscapes (Jotunheimen) and when the last day hour of daylight arrived we were on our way to find a nice and cozy eatery. We ended up at the tapas bar (Beitostolen), which was crowded by Norwegians and offered nice local tapas.
The hauntingly beautiful Norwegian winter sun rise and sunset is something you want to keep seeing. For sure, we are coming back to Norway in summer to experience the country when the sun never seems to go down and the hills are lush green.