7th August 2016. Muskox Centre Tännäs, Sweden.

There were five of us on the Musk Ox tour, the other three people were very friendly, there was a Polish couple and a local man who gave us all a lift to the centre.  He said he’d lived in Belgium for 20 years but had returned to renovate his father’s farm, he was very interesting and told us about the local communities and the reindeer and other animals in the area.  The Polish lady chatted to me as we walked along to the first part of the tour.  She told me that she was currently learning English, apparently at school she was taught Russian.  I really must start to listen to our language CD’s and improve my ‘school girl’ French which is only useful currently if I see something written down.  We were going to try to learn German and French last year before we came away but the preparations for the trip took over.  Excuses!  Excuses!

The guide’s name was Eric, he was very knowledgeable and told us we could ask questions at any point.   He took us up a three story tower which looked down on a wide expanse of pine forest and a mountain range in the distance.  He told us that was where the first five Musk Ox (two pregnant) wandered in from Norway after they were re-introduced there.   They increased in number but in the 1980’s they all suddenly died off.

He then took us into a compound to see the Musk Ox.  We were lucky, we saw a HUGE male, female and their baby who was born mid May.  They had wandered over to the feeding troughs and were waiting to be fed.  The male was making a loud snorting noise like a bull makes when it’s angry, apparently he was getting impatient for his food!

Eric said they are very dangerous animals and none of the people working there are allowed anywhere near them because they are wild animals.  The Musk Ox roam in fifteen hectares of land and the other male and female have a baby which was born at the end of May, they were in another compound because it was rutting season.

It was wonderful seeing the Musk Ox, well worth the journey.  We went into a little hut which had a stuffed three week old baby Musk Ox the size of a Labrador (they weigh 5 kg when they’re born, apparently) in a glass case, it had died of natural causes.  Eric answered a lot of questions, including questions about things we’d seen on our trip!  His English was impeccable and when he didn’t know the English word for an animal he Googled it to find out so that he could answer us thoroughly.  We were just leaving the hut when the Swedish man pointed to the rug on the floor and asked who’d painted it, Eric said it was a local artist, I felt rather foolish but had to admit that I’d been walking round it because I thought it was a real rug and I didn’t want to make it dirty but he said he’d seen a lot of people walk over and try to flip the edge back down so I’m not the only one who was fooled, it was a brilliant painting.

We were given a lift back to the Fishing Centre by the Swedish man, it was so nice when they all waved goodbye to us.  They were such friendly people.

It was interesting to see how quickly the landscape changed during our 100 km drive from Tännäs to Idre, one minute we were driving through moorland covered with purple flowering heather and dotted with silver birch trees and the occasional pond then it would be very rocky or there would be large areas of tall thin pine trees that differed from the ‘Springsteens’ in Norway http://hartfree-bright.co.uk/2nd-august-stop-over-at-svenningvaten-norway/ and underneath them were carpets of flowering heather and silver moss.

We drove to Idre on the route back to Norway and saw lots of reindeer in various places along the way, it was a great trip.  We stopped off for a coffee in a fishing place.  Unfortunately the lady running it didn’t have any food but she made us a very nice cup of coffee which only cost 30 SKr (£1.50 each, that’s more like it!) and we sat on the veranda in the sun drinking it listening to the wind rustling the leaves in the trees, thinking, “this is the life!”

We went for lunch when we got to Idre.  It was a nice café/restaurant joined to the Tourist Information bureau.  The building was an interesting shape and had a planted roof.  We couldn’t work out what most of the menu said so we spoke to the boy behind the counter.  It turned out that he was from Zimbabwe and his parents had left when it all turned nasty over there.  He said his uncle still had a farm out there but had had to smash up the well because if there was a water supply the government would take his farm away from him.  It must have been very difficult for his family to tear themselves away from their home and set up in a country with a completely different climate.

We had a lovely meal there, did some food shopping to keep us going through Norway and went back to the van to plan where we were going to stay.

It didn’t take long before we changed our plans again and decided to go to Norway at the end of our trip next year when we’ve saved up a bit of money!  Instead we’re going to drive to Torsby in the Värmland region of Sweden.  We’ve found a lägerplats just up the road situated between a pine forest and a river, very pretty.

Click here for further info on The Musk Ox Centre, Tännäs.    https://www.funasfjallen.se/vinter/en/do/muskox-centre/

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