The wild reindeer – the nomads of the mountains

Hardangervidda is Northern Europe’s highest mountain plateau and Norway’s largest wild reindeer area. It is one of very few remaining wild reindeer areas to have remained unspoiled. Hardangervidda has Europe’s largest population of wild reindeer. They migrate across the plateau, as they have done since they first arrived here after the end of the Ice Age.

Hardangervidda has extensive unspoiled areas. Despite this, there is an extensive network of trails and cabins. Our region is a popular mountainous area with tourist cabins and a well-developed path and trail network. The area is also protected thanks to the Hallingskarvet and Hardangervidda National Parks. These national parks were partly created to protect the wild reindeer and their habitats and to ensure that we are able to experience nature through traditional outdoor life.


Where are they?

During the spring, they migrate westwards and the calves are born on the way. During the summer, they are mostly at rest, before they migrate eastwards again when the autumn arrives. The reason is obvious: In the west is the best summer grazing land, with lush grass and weeds, whilst the drier eastern areas are lower and have less snow cover, making it easier to find food in the winter. This is a general pattern. There are always some reindeer who remain behind in the slightly more fertile areas of the eastern part of the plateau. In the western part of the plateau, you won’t have to walk far before you see wild reindeer during the summer, particularly on hot days when the reindeer head for the snowdrifts in order to get rid of the troublesome insects.


What should you do if you see wild reindeer?

The future prospects of the wild reindeer on Hardangervidda are also good, as the size of the animals is increasing and the number of animals is decreasing. This hopefully means that future generations will also be able to enjoy the wild reindeer.

If you should be lucky enough to see wild reindeer, we have a few tips which you should follow:

  • Show respect for plant and animal life. Remember that the wild reindeer are particularly vulnerable during the winter and spring.
  • Follow marked paths and trails.
  • Take your dog with you on your walk, but remember that you must keep it on a lead.
  • Use binoculars and watch the reindeer from a distance.
  • Remain still if you see wild reindeer, so that they can move away undisturbed.
  • Buy a postcard with a picture of the reindeer rather than trying to take your own pictures.


Source: Norwegian Wild Reindeer Foundation

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