is one of Norway's most famous hikes with a reported 30-50,000 visitors
per year. As such it is not the kind of place where I would normally go
However, with Norway "closed" due to COVID-19 the number of people in
the mountains in mid June 2020 was much smaller than normal - so we
took the opportunity to do this hike
We did the walk the "normal" way - taking the boat from Gjendesheim to
Memurubu and doing the ridge in the uphill direction. It is absolutely
possible to do the walk in the opposite direction. We chose to hang
back and let the main crowd get ahead with the hope of being able to
have the place to ourselves as much as possible.
A variety of the expected upland bird species were seen along the route
with most birds in the area around the tree line just up from Memurubu.
Bluethroat, Ring Ousels Cuckoos, Kestrel, Yellow Wagtails and more were
seen here. Higher up the number and variety of birds dropped
significantly but Wheatear, Ring Ousel, Raven and Common Gulls were
seen right up to the highest point.
There were not many good photo opportunities for birds during the hike
itself but a male
Ptarmigan gave absolutely cracking views as he protected his mate who
scuttled quickly off into what vegetation there was.
The surrounding area can
be very productive and the drive to Gjendesheim may give at least as
many birds as the hike itself. Rough-legged Buzzard, divers, various
wildfowl and waders can all be seen from the road. Besseggen is not far
from the well known Valdresflye where most of the southern Norwegian
alpine species can be found.
View from the hike up from Memurubu, June 2020
Both Bluethoat and Ring Ousel were seen where this picture was taken.
Looking down towards Memurubu - the runoff from the mountains can be
seen entering the green waters of Gjende lake.
This is the map of the area that I have used
spectacular scenery along the hike, June 2020
Some places with good birding potential can be seen from Besseggen -
I'm sure that delta area would be worth checking!
There is a variety
of accomodation available in the area - most notably at
However, Beitostølen was pretty much closed during our visit
and we stayed at Hindsæter.
Owl are a possibility in the area around Besseggen
This photo was taken in Engerdal, July 2014
information and books
A view of the Besseggen ridge itself
A landscape shot taken with my telephoto lens from the boat trip -
heavy snow melt gave raging torrents
Links to a couple of blog posts related to birding in the area:
June 2020 here
July 2017 (from a guiding trip) here