Reading material for those who love the camping life

Text and photo: Arne Lunde
Motorhome and Caravan magazine, No. 2, April 2015

180 km nature and culture: Setesdal map

Set aside plenty of time if you are planning a vacation trip through Setesdal. Joy lined up for those who have discovers instinct intact.

Setesdal stretches from Iveland in the south to Bjåen in the north, a distance of 180 kilometers. Otra River flows from its source in Sæsvatnet farthest north, through the valley, and ultimately drain into the ocean in Kristiansand. The river dominates large parts of the valley, some places with foaming rapids that attracts thrill seekers to rafting, other place like a slow flowing river that invite angler to dip the fly or spinner in the dark water, hoping to lure big trout. And some places widens the river out to the great lakes, which Byglandsfjorden whose slippery rocks attracts sun worshipers and beach happy on hot summer days.

Setesdal has century long traditions in the silversmith arts, crafts and music, besides ancient traditions which partly kept alive to this day. The many museums in the valley gives a good insight into the old Setesdal culture. Naturally there are also a lot of interesting, not least for geology enthusiasts. Rare minerals are widely Evje and Iveland. A visit Setesdal Mineral Park provides a unique insight into the geology of the area.

Eldorado for the stone crazy

If you start from the south, it is natural with a first stop in Mineral Park located a few kilometers south of Evje, by road 9. Here are Europe's largest private collection of minerals and crystals and many who visit the exhibition will be mesmerized - literally. The exhibition is set deep in the mountains in an area where there has been mining for centuries.

Flåt Mining and Evje Mineral is also a good option for those who hunt exciting geology.

North of Evje, by Syrtveitfossen located TrollAktiv, a company offering nature-based experiences that can provide any and every an adrenaline rush. Rafting falls are becoming popular not only for tough daredevils, for there are also personalized and safe program for families with children. Evje and Hornnes is known as strawberry kingdom in southern Norway. Strawberry Festival is an established tradition that takes place one Saturday in the middle of July. Menu on the large beer garden is of course strawberries with cream and sugar.

Food for advanced

For those who are looking for exotic adventures in the culinary, the annual food market on Ose in Bygland well worth a visit. The market takes place one weekend in the middle of July and attracts both tourists and the valley people. Master Chef Solveig Ose offers korv - offal of sheep that is prepared according to etiquette. - This is food for advanced, smiles Solveig having setesdal soup as an alternative for those with delicate palates. The soup consists of salt and smoked meat and peas and barley and is a classic in the valley. Cured meats and meat pie also belongs naturally with the food market which was established in 1995 and which has become an institution in the valley. 2-3000 visitors put head to the tiny hamlet which normally has eight resident.

On the rise Setesdal it might be nice to have a rest along the way. Then picnic Honnevje Valle a good option, it was named the country's finest by NAF its members in 2011. Here you will find beautiful rocks and flowing water that invites a fresh dip in the summer heat. Fish is also possible to get off the hook.

Silver Blacksmiths and legends heroes

Valle, located midway in the valley, is the "silversmithing" in Norway. Thank underage ironworks gave peasant blacksmith basis for looking forward precious metal. In Hylestad was opened copper mines 1600 century while the first silversmiths probably used silver which were stolen from mines in Kongsberg! Today takes it all in legal forms.

The distinctive setesdalsbunad requires a lot of silver and today there are about 35 people in Valle doing silversmith work. Rygnestadtunet is one of the most distinguished museum facility in Norway. The courtyard includes houses and objects by legends hero Åsmund Torleivson Rygnestad, "Evil-Åsmund" as he was known and who lived on 1500 century. Rygnestad located about nine kilometers north of Rysstad.

Tveitetunet's garden after eidsvoll man Olav Knutsson Tveiten. It is located on the hillside above Valle village. There are currently no tour or possible to get into the buildings, but it can still recommended to hike up to enjoy the peace and quiet in idyllic surroundings. Valle is also the place for those who are on active frilluftsliv. Mountain outreaches stretching for miles both east and west of the village and The Norwegian Trekking Association has extensive network of trails and cabins in the area.

Vestlandone within reach

For those who want to take a detour to the west, Brokke-Suleskardveien can be an interesting alternative. The road, which was opened in the 80s, takes off from RV 9 north of Rysstad and takes you up to over 1000 meters altitude. The winter-closed road usually opens at the end of May, and in some places there may be plow edges of 4-5 meters. Maybe an idea to bring skis? The road ends in Sirdal where it is possible to drive further west to Lysebotn in the innermost part of the Lysefjord. Vestlandone is within reach. Another option is to take a detour to the east. Highway 45 over Skafså takes off from RV 9 at Rotemo north of Valle and after a few miles you land in Dalen which is the end point for the Telemark Canal where the tourist boats run during the summer season.

North of Valle begins climbs up the mountain kingdom in the upper valley. Soon we are over in Bykle Municipality. It has become rich in hydropower development, and the cottage tourism. Hovden has evolved from a small rural village into a trendy ski resort with a sizable number of cottages, apartments and hotels. Along with an extensive resorts and miles of groomed cross-country trails in the mountain terrain is Hovden been Sørlandets answer Østlandets Geilo and Hemsedal. It is winter and Easter it tops out at Hovden, while in summer is considerably more peaceful.

Hart water tempts with cool, clear water a hot summer day, and the banks have established a great park with a volleyball court. Otherwise, it is virtually countless opportunities for hiking on the basis of Hovden. Sloaros and Tjørnbrotbu are tourist cottages nestled few hours walking away on marked trails. For many, enough Hovden end point for the trip up Setesdal. But there is more in store for those who are hungry for even more experiences.

125 years with guests

Bjåen Fjellstove over an mil north of Hovden offers "Heim Doctor joys and old hopes" that the current proprietor, Ragnhild Bjåen, puts it. She's probably their words intact, she came back to Bjåen in 2007 and opened for dining and lodging after the operation had been down for years. For Carrie, it was a dream that came true. Moreover, it was like coming home. It was namely her grandparents, Aslak and Ingebjørg Bjåen who bought Hotel Børte Tokke in Telemark and moved it to the village at the top of Setesdal. - They opened Easter 1939 and from the beginning was way up here closed in winter so guests had to ski from Lundane slightly north of Hovden. Yet they had 900 cruise first year, - tells Ragnhild, which today is open in July and August and upon special request. 24 beds in 12 rooms, each with its own style and all with lots of history in the walls, is what Ragnhild can offer farendes people in the three-storey building in the Swiss style.

Mountain Aure from Sæsvatnet and Breithorn lake is often on the menu, along with game such as elk and deer, and lamb ribs from local sheep. Ragnhild's parents run the farm adjacent to the mountain lodge and to realize the ambition only to focus on local food. - We use local ingredients prepared from scratch in our own kitchen, we put namely emphasis on sustainability, stressing the holder of the mountain lodge. It was approved Norwegian ecotourism company in 2008. The following year, the site was named the nicest accommodation. And that despite the fact that the standard is simple, based on current goals of comfort and amenities. TV can forget, instead you can enjoy fueling the stove waiting in each room. Toilets and showers are in the hallway. Perhaps it is precisely why the mountain lodge has become so popular? Many people who live on the mountain lodge uses the opportunity to fish in Breitenstrasse lake and Sæsvatnet, while others set off on Turistforeningen their trails which practically runs through the courtyard of Bjåen.

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