Norway: Nature & Wildlife
Norway is known for its breathtaking scenery that truly sets it apart from many other European destinations. Wildlife abounds here with opportunities to see many interesting species around the country. Popular animals found in Norway include the Arctic Fox, the Musk Ox, Polar Bears and even Reindeers. With such an extensive coastline, the waters and shores of Norway are teeming with wildlife. Many seabirds choose to visit Norway’s coasts, one of the most recognizable are puffins. Whale species including Belugas, Killer Whales and Sperm Whales are often spotted off the coast of Svalbard during the summer. Seals are also not strangers to Norway, and Harbour and Ringed seals can often be found.
When it comes to nature preservation, Norway has 44 national parks: 37 located on the mainland, with a further 7 on Svalbard (a Norwegian archipelago). National Parks in Norway tend to have stricter guidelines than in other European countries. Many have been designated to preserve rare plant and animal life while others are protected to preserve reference points for environmental research. They are, for the most part, open to the public and some allow camping. As well as national parks, there are also many other protected places, including 153 landscape parks and 1,701 nature reserves. Some of the most interesting parks in Norway include Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella, Hardangervidda and Nordre Isfjorden.
Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park was originally designated in 1974, but was expanded in 2002. It hosts a great deal of vegetation that provides homes for many species including deer, roe deer, elk, reindeer, wolverines, lynx, and a small population of bears, among others. The park has become famous for hiking and cycling in the summer and cross-country skiing during the winter. When it comes to hiking, this park is recommended for experienced hikers. One of the most remarkable attractions in the park is Amotan, a 156 m high waterfall.
Hardangervidda National Park exists on Europe’s largest mountain plateau and is Norway’s largest national park. It was established in 1981 and is home to over 500 plant species, 100 species of birds and 21 mammals. The park is the southernmost part of the country where arctic flora and fauna can be found and is also home to one of Norway’s largest glaciers, Hardangerjøkulen. With many lakes, streams and rivers, Hardangervidda is famous for its fishing.
Nordre Isfjorden is found on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard and is one of the archipelago’s last protected areas. It opened as a national park in 2003 and is named for the Isfjorden fjords, which are some of the largest in Svalbard. The northern part has a virgin coastal landscape while much of the park is made up of wetlands, lakes and ponds that host eider ducks, pink-footed geese, ringed seals and arctic foxes.
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