MUSK-OXEN IN WINTER CONDITIONS
Tour dates 2021:
- 11-16 January (Reserved)
- 22-27 January (2 spots remaining)
- 1-6 February (1 spot remaining)
Where: Dovrefjell National Park
Length: 6 days (4 days out in the mountains)
Number of participants: 2-6
Price: 26.000,- NOK (+/- 2300,- Euro) per person.
Tour guide: Floris Smeets
Accommodation: Double bedrooms and expedition tents. The first and last night we stay outside the national park in comfortable cabins. During our stay in the mountains, we stay in special winter expedition tents.
Transport: You will be picked up and dropped off at Oslo Gardermoen airport.
Husky tours: We will be brought into the mountains with huskies and sledges. On the end of the tour we will be picked up again with the huskies and sledges.
Food: Food and drinks for during the day will be provided for you.
Expedition equipment: Snow shoes, winter sleeping bag, winter sleeping mat.
Guiding by an official Dovrefjell National Park guide.
Photography tips from Floris Smeets, Sony ambassador.
Flight: It is the easiest to fly to Oslo Gardermoen.
Travel insurance: All participants are responsible for their own travel insurance.
How does the tour look like:
You will fly on Oslo Gardermoen airport. Here I will pick you up and drive you to Dovrefjell. The drive takes about 4 and half hours. The first night we will stay in comfortable cabins, just outside the National Park.
In the morning we will meet up with a team of husky mushers, who have several sledges for our equipment and us. There will be two persons per sledge. One is steering and breaking and the second person is only leaning in the corners. The huskies will bring us up into the mountains, which takes about 90 minutes. We will be dropped off at the location where we will have our tents. After setting camp, we head out for our first hike to the musk-oxen. The musk-oxen will probably be within 30 to 90 minutes walking distance from our camp.
Day 2, 3 and 4
During the trip we sleep outside in tents for 3 nights. This gives us the chance to photograph the animals during first and last light. If you would leave the park every day and sleep in an hotel instead, you would not be able to be with the animals during the best light. That is the reason why we camp out in the mountains. The tents we use are large extreme expedition tents. They can stand a storm and are well isolated. In each tent, 3 persons can sleep comfortable plus there is enough space for the equipment.
Depending on how motivated the group is, we can get up early (about 4:30) have breakfast and hike to the musk-oxen before first light (first light is at +/- 7:45). Depending on the distance that the animals are from our camp, we will either stay the whole day out with the animals or return to the camp for lunch. Sun sets again at about 17:45. If it is a day with lots of clouds, it doesn't make sense to get up at 4:30. So we will be able to sleep a bit longer.
We will be picked up with the huskies at about 16:00. So will have a long morning for photographing the musk-oxen. That night we will sleep again in the comfort of the heated cabins, just outside the National Park.
The next morning you will be driven back to the airport.
We use high end expedition tents which can stand the toughest conditions. We have camped out in winds of 28 meter per second and the tents easily stood their ground. The tents are large and offer a comfortable housing for 3 persons. In each tent there will be 2 or 3 persons staying, depending on the group size.
The temperature will probably be around -15 on day time and around -20 at night time. These mountains are known for the strong wind which suddenly can pick up and disappear again. This means that the weather can change rather fast from hour to hour. During the tours there is a good chance that we will get into blizzards. Proper clothing is an absolute must!
Physical condition of the participants:
You need to be fit for this tour! You have to be able to walk several (3-5) hours per day, also in rather steep terrain. We will walk mostly with snowshoes. Only on the tops of the mountains, where the musk-oxen mainly are, we will not need snowshoes. Snowshoes are provided for you. Participants have to carry their own photo equipment plus 1 Liter of tea or coffee and food for the day.
Food and drinks:
Because the temperature will be below freezing during the tour (about -15 on day time and -20 at night), it is not possible to bring regular food or drinks. Those will freeze. Quality expedition food in bags, of the brand "Adventure Food" is supplied for you. I have been testing several brands, and this brand makes the tastiest meals and has a good amount of calories. I also supply every participant with a 1 liter thermos for tea or coffee. In order to make tea or coffee, we have to melt snow every day. I supply burners and pots, which are specially designed for winter usage. So it won't take much time to boil water. Some snacks, such as chocolate, cookies and peanuts, don't contain any or much water, so it is possible to bring those with us for extra energy.
On the first and last day, we will have regular food and drinks.
Because the temperature at night will be about -20 degrees, we need good sleeping bags. The tents isolate quite well. It will be about 8 degrees warmer in the tent, if there are 3 persons inside. If you have got a sleeping bag for these conditions, please bring it. You will get 50 euro back if you bring your own sleeping bag. It is very important that you bring a fleece liner for inside the sleeping bag. The liner needs to be made out of fleece, because other materials will feel cold during winter.
It is important that you bring a bag which is big enough to fit your camera equipment, extra layers of warm clothing, 1 L thermos and some food for the day.
For photographing the musk-oxen you will need a minimum of 400mm on a full-frame camera or a 300mm on a crop camera. A telephoto lens of 70-200mm or 100-400mm is always handy to have as extra lens. This allows you to frame the animal small in the landscape and these lenses are also ideal for photographing the stunning landscape we will be in. At night there is a chance for northern light. A wide angle lens with an aperture of f2.8 or lower would be perfect to photograph our campsite under the northern lights. A tripod is necessary for photographing northern light. It is up to you to decide if you will need a tripod for photographing the musk-oxen.
Bring plenty of batteries. There is no possibility to charge batteries in the camp. Due to the low temperatures the batteries will get drained faster than usual. These are my recommendations for each camera body; Nikon D5: 3, Nikon D500, D850, D750, Z6, Z7: 5, Canon 1DX(II): 4, Canon 5D, 7D, 90D, EOS R: 6, Sony a9(II), a7III, a7RIII, a7RIV: 5
Also bring plenty of memory cards! Deleting and selecting images takes up costly battery power. Bring plenty of cards so that you don't run out of storage space.
We will be outside for 4 day in freezing temperatures. Good clothing is the most important thing of the tour! Find here a short list of the most important pieces of clothing you will need. Once you book the tour, you will receive a packing list to make sure that you will bring what you need.
We will be sitting still a lot, waiting for the musk-ox to move or waiting for good light. Your upper body has to stay warm at all time. So a proper expedition down jacket for temperatures down to -40 degrees Celsius is an absolute must.
You need snow boots which are made for extreme cold temperatures. Make sure that the boots are at least one size too large so that it is possible to put on several layers of woolen socks.
For your hands it is the best to have a set of thermo-gloves (with which you can control the camera) plus a set of thick mittens (for when you are waiting).
Because your legs warm up a lot during walking, my experience is that it is the best to bring 2 sets of skiing trousers. You keep one on for when we are walking and you add the second one when we are sitting still for long periods.
It all starts with a proper set base layers. Don't go cheap on them!
Please note: Because of safety reasons, before going into the mountains, I will check if everyone has got the right clothing for these conditions. If someone does not have the right equipment to be outside in these temperatures, that person will not be allowed to join the tour into the mountains. That person will have to stay in a cabin outside the park on own expenses.
If you wish to stay longer or shorter in the mountains, please feel free to ask for the possibilities.
Read here the testimonials from our previous guests.