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Three-day cabin-to-cabin hike. As the first stretch only takes two and a half hours, you may start late afternoon or early evening; making this a perfect weekend hike.
This hike takes you through the northernmost parts of the Setesdal Austhei (the Eastern Hills). Starting out from Berdalen, at 800 m.a.s.l., a good part of the hike goes through a mountain terrain at an elevation of around 1200 metres. If you choose to include Bjåen, this additional stretch will take you up to an elevation of 1400 metres. Definitely a mountain hike!
What equipment is required?
You have to be well equipped; i.e. suitable clothing, hiking boots and necessary food. Please note that the weather may change rapidly.
How do I get to the starting point?
You start out from Berdalen, where there is parking space for some cars. The Nor-Way Bus Express has connections from the eastern and western parts of Norway, and the Setesdal Express services the South coast. There is a bus stop approximately 1 kilometre from the starting point, along the road Rv. 9. See the websites www.nor-way.no and www.setesdal-bilruter.no.
Berdalen – Berdalsbu
At Berdalen, you start from the car park at the hilltop. Follow the T-marked trail through forest, across bogs and along the river for about 4.5 kilometres. A good part of the trail is fairly gentle, but the last kilometre to the cabin includes an ascent of 200 metres, up to 1000 m.a.s.l. From the cabin, there are magnificent views to the west.
Berdalsbu – Tjørnbrotbu
This stretch takes you through the realm of the wild reindeer, with important migration routes for Europe’s southernmost wild reindeer population.
Through the ages, wild reindeer have been hunted in this region. Evidence of this may be seen at the Nørdre Gjuvvatn lake. Next to the trail you may discover pitfalls indicating human activity dating far back in history.
Estimated time for this stretch is about five hours. The most significant ascents are at the beginning and the end of the hike. Crossing the river at Nedre Viervadet may be challenging during periods of heavy precipitation.
Tjørnbrotbu – Hovden/Bjåen
The tourist cabin Tjørnbrotbu is located 1300 m.a.s.l. From here, you have two alternatives for the final stretch.
Alternative 1: The easiest and fastest route leads to Hovden and takes about three and a half hours. The hike takes you downward through gently sloping terrain, mostly along the river Byrtemannsbekken. You walk on the perimeter of the Hovden Nature Protection Area, which was designated by law to preserve a beautiful landscape which is unique in the county.
The hike ends close to central Hovden, from where there is bus connection to your starting point along Rv. 9. However, if you prefer another overnight stop, you may choose to stay at the mountain lodge and youth hostel Hovden Fjellstoge, which collaborates with the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT).
Alternative 2: This is a somewhat more demanding hike. From Tjørnbrotsbu the trail proceeds north to Bjåen, taking you up to an elevation of 1400 metres along the way. The longest ascent is at the beginning of the hike, before you reach a more rugged terrain along the Venevasshalli ridge.
At Storesåta and Lislesåta you begin the descent to Bjåen. The complete stretch normally takes about five to six hours.
Hovden has a wide selection of accommodation alternatives: hotels, cabins and apartments. For information, see www.hovden.com.
On the hike you may bring a tent or stay in the cabins of the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT): Berdalsbu, Tjørnbrotsbu and Hovden Fjellstoge. See www.turistforeningen.no. Except for Hovden Fjellstoge, these are unlocked self-service cabins. This means that you have to bring your own hut sack (sheet sleeping bag) or bed linen. The cabins are stocked with basic provisions which you may purchase. For groups, advance booking is recommended. Members of the Norwegian Trekking Association are entitled to a discount on accommodation.
If your hike takes you all the way to Bjåen, the Bjåen Fjellstove and the Bjåen Turisthytte are two local accommodation providers.