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Forget Bears Week, Musk Ox safaris are top of the gaycation calendar now

Forget Bears Week, Musk Ox safaris are top of the gaycation calendar now

Norway's Trøndelag region is one of the only places on the planet to see Muskox in the wild

Let’s get something straight, no gay men are calling themselves Musk Ox – but they should.

As hairy as a bear, and even beefier than your local cub, these animals were overlooked when gay tribes first chose their spirit animals.

Why? They’re not keen showoffs.

The Trøndelag region, an hour’s flight north of Oslo, is home to some of Norway’s unique scenery, the famous fjords, and a rare sight in nature; Musk Ox.

This ancient beast hails from the Canadian Arctic, known to native inuits as ‘The Bearded One’, and Greenland.

The relatives of the humble sheep were introduced into Norway in 1932; and again in 1947 after being wiped out by hunters during the Second World War.

Today, the European population of Musk Ox reside in Norway and the Swedish border; being only small in number, this tribe isn’t often on the scene.

On this nordic trip we’ll be making stops in Trondheim, Røros and Oppdal, as we traverse the glorious Trøndelag region toward the should-be gay tribe spirit animal’s hideaway.

Trondheim, gateway to the region and Viking capital of Norway, acquaints us with nordic culture before venturing into higher altitude wilderness.

Trondheim’s Vikings forged the flame of Norwegian culture

Dating back to the 11th century, and resting place of holy figure, Saint Olaf, at Nidaros Cathedral, Viking outpost Trondheim lies on the south shore of the Trondheim fjord.

If you scroll through Instagram, in search of city highlights, it won’t be long before you come across probably the most iconic sights in Trondheim; the old town waterfront.

The colorful wooden buildings, painted an array of autumnal palettes, are best admired from the old town bridge over the River Nivelda and lead you on a trail to Kristiansten Fortress, a hillside viewpoint over the vast and beautiful surrounding mountainous landscapes.

There’s something so homely here, from street-level to mountain-top.

The 2013 Disney film ‘Frozen’ took much inspiration from Norway, not just for Saint Olaf’s namesake character, but from Trondheim and Røros specifically.

But we will return to this when we meet, we think, Kristof’s character inspiration in Røros.

Spending a day or so exploring the country’s third largest city, taking in traditional cuisine at the must-visit Restaurant Kommandanten, and historical sights, including Nidaros Cathedral, gives flavor to the ancestry still burning within Norwegians today.

After priceless breaths of fresh, chilled, pine air and a cocktail at socialite hotspot, Clarion Hotel & Congress’ Skybar, we bed down early for the dawn train to Røros.

We’re hot on the heels of the elusive Musk Ox.

Something to gear your mind to…

Finding local beers for a Musk Ox tracking strategy session is easy, just watch the prices.

According to The Telegraph Norway is the 4th most expensive country in the world, and the average tourist spends $1,199 during their visit.

But, like anywhere, travel can be done on a budget and nothing should deter you from visiting one of the most striking countries in Europe on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Journey to Røros

If Trondheim was a gentle introduction to Norway then Røros is where the adventure begins; you’re about to become a Viking.

Rising early for the first of three daily rail services to Røros from Trondheim makes the most of the day, especially in winter when daylight is limited.

Snuggling up with your mate, admiring the glistening mountains carved by ancient glaciers, aboard a two-car train winding through the valley is a life affirming highlight.

The spectacular two-hour journey, preventing any anticipated snoozing, brings us south to the UNESCO World Heritage town of Røros, inspiration for Disney’s Frozen.

Hunky townspeople behind Disney blockbuster characters

‘Fixer upper’ Kristof, voiced by Looking star Jonathan Groff, was actually based on a Røros local.

Although we can’t be certain we’re suspicious our strapping local tour guide from Røros Hotell, whose family has run the business for decades, may have indeed been him.

While handsome Norwegian men may have kept Disney’s research team in Røros, the town’s ability to save themselves from the winds of time, safeguarding tradition and their town in untouched nature, inspired them to come.

Once one of Norway’s most important mining towns, Røros has rarely changed since the 1600s and today tourists arrive in the living museum to prepare themselves for the wilderness, from axe-throwing to snowmobiling, of Norwegian terrain.

Watch us throw some of our own axes here:

 

So spend time here, consume locally grown foods and craft beers, brewed using water from Glåmoskilden, claimed to be Norway’s purest water source, and flex the muscles before journeying to Oppdal for the Musk Ox safari.

Keep your distance: Musk Ox outrun humans by 15km/h

Just like anything in nature, as anyone who’s waited for the Northern Lights to appear will testify, finding Musk Ox takes time and patience.

After arriving in Oppdal, two hours by hire car or four by public transport from Røros, a further potential five to seven hours trek lays ahead.

But, the day is here, and fuelled by warming produce from Røros we were ready to flush out the elusive Musk Ox – like searching for legendaries on Pokemon Go!

Making base at Quality Hotel Skifer, a rest-stop for snowsport fanatics, we awaited our personal Oppdal Safari guide who would take us by Jeep, with his trusty dog Tell, into the heart of Dovrefjell National Park, where two to three hundred Musk Ox call home.

The bumpy, but invigorating, drive ends unexpectedly quickly. We’re in luck.

Pulling off the motorway into military protected land, allowing visitors in at discretion, we pile of out of the mud-splattered Jeep, using binoculars to close in on a small herd of Musk Ox. 

 

Musk Ox: not so elusive, for us at least

Puffs of condensation snort into the air from the snouts of the heard, twelve strong with a calf in tow, as we make our way to a safe viewing distance.

90 metres is mighty close to an animal capable of moving its average 410kg weight at 60km/h.

Quietly alert, we make camp on the moss-ridden ground for some authentic nordic cinnamon buns and coffee that could double as speed.

These beasts are absolutely magnificent; butting horns, cries into the wind and rolling in the overgrowth provide the background calm for a meditation session.

We watch, senseless to time, until the herd disappear one-by-one into the distance.

Why doesn’t the Musk Ox have it’s own tribe of gay men? Bears are history.

 

We travelled to Trondheim via Oslo with Norwegian Air Shuttle.

Norwegian is the only airline in the UK offering direct services to Trondheim with up to six weekly flights from Gatwick ideally suited to a quick getaway. 

Flights are operated by a fleet of brand new Boeing 737-800 aircraft offering all passengers free Wi-Fi connectivity.

Fares start from £39.90 one way at www.norwegian.com/uk or dial 0330 8280854 (opt. 1)

Read more:

https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/king-norway-gives-incredible-speech-importance-accepting-gay-people/#gs.bgBiOIk