Musk-oxen in winter conditions
This is an intense wildlife photography expedition which has been described by many as an experience of a lifetime. An official National Park guide, who is guiding this tour for nearly a decade, will take you with dog sledges into the mountains of Dovrefjell where you will stay for four days, photographing wild roaming musk-oxen. You will photograph these impressive animals in the harsh Norwegian winter conditions, with temperatures dropping well below -20 degrees and a good chance for a winter storm to pass through. This tour is for the more adventurous nature photographer.
Day 1. You will fly on Oslo Gardermoen airport. Here you will be picked up and be driven to the accommodation just outside the National Park of Dovrefjell. The drive takes about 5 hours. The first night we will stay in comfortable cabins, just outside the National Park. We will use the same cabins again for the last night. So you can leave behind some belongings you won't need with you during the days out in the mountains.
Day 2. 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 some single person and two person sledges. The mushers will explain you how to ride the dog sledge. The huskies will bring us up into the mountains. At the steepest sections of the journey up, we have to help the huskies by pushing the sledges. The ride up to the base camp will take about 90 minutes. We will be dropped off at the location where we will set up our tents. After setting up the 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. The tents we use are large extreme expedition tents. They can stand a strong 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 will get up about 3 hours before sunrise. After eating breakfast and packing our bags, we hike to the musk-oxen before first light. The aim is to be with the animals at least about 30 minutes before sunrise. 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. We stay with the animals until the light has gone bad and hike then back to our base camp where we will have our dinner. If it is very cloudy during the trip, it doesn't make sense to be so early at the animals. Then we can sleep a bit longer.
Time of sunrise and sunset differs between the tours. During the first tour sunrise is at about 09:40 and sunset at 15:20. During the last tour sunrise is at about 08:40 and sunset at 16:33.
Day 5. This is the last day in the mountains. We will be picked up with the huskies at about 14:00. Before that, we will have the possibility to photograph the musk-oxen at sunrise. We have to be back at our camp at 12:00 to pack everything again. That night we will sleep again in the comfort of the heated cabins, just outside the National Park and enjoy a delicious meal in the local restaurant.
Day 6. In the morning you will be driven back to Oslo Gardermoen airport and fly home again.
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!
Floris Smeets is one of the official Dovrefjell Nation Park guides. He is experienced and knows the area and animals well. In the past decade, he has guided groups in some of the toughest winter weather conditions and will always put the group's safety upfront. Even though the conditions can be challenging, you will be safe in his hands. Additionally, he is a professional photographer and Sony Ambassador. He plans the tours to maximize your photographic results. You will be on the right spot at the right time and can always ask for tips and feedback. For each trip there will be an assisting guide present as well.
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, of the brand "Adventure Food", is supplied for you. We have tested 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. Some snacks, such as chocolate, cookies and peanuts, don't contain any or much water. 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. We supply all guests with good winter sleeping bags. You only need to bring your own sleeping bag liner. It is very important that the liner is made out of fleece, because other materials will feel cold during winter. If you have got a sleeping bag for these conditions, you can bring it. Please tell us the brand and model of your sleeping bag, so we can check for you if it will be warm enough for this trip.
We will have some of the best winter camping gear with us, which allows us to camp out in the mountains even during very challenging weather conditions. Even though our tents can stand windspeeds around 150km/h, the windspeed should not exceed 75 km/h when setting up the camp. In case the weather will be too extreme and will not allow us to set up camp, we will stay in the cabins outside the National Park. In that case we will hike in and out of the mountains every day in order to photograph the musk-oxen. Sadly, staying more nights at the cabins brings additional costs of NOK 1250,- per person per night.
Please contact us for inquiries for other dates and other questions.
Or fill in the booking form below.
2024: LONG 7-13 January (1 spot available)
18 - 23 January (2 spots available)
28 Jan -2 Feb (Fully booked)
7 - 12 February (4 spots available)
17 - 22 February (Fully booked)
2025: 16 - 21 January (3 spots available)
LONG 26 Jan -1 Feb (Fully booked)
LONG 7 - 13 February (Fully booked)
19 - 24 February (5 spots available)
1 - 6 March (Open for booking)
6 days, 4 days in the mountains
The tour "LONG" tours are 7 days, 5 days in the mountains.
Dovrefjell National Park
Max 6 participants
Shared double bedroom for first and last night
Large shared expedition tents for 3 nights
NOK 36.500,- (4000,- deposit)
(Approx. € 3050,- or $ 3210,-)
The "LONG" tours with an extra day costs an additional NOK 5000,-
Oslo Gardermoen Airport
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, walking sticks, winter sleeping bag, winter sleeping mat, cooking gear, 1L thermos.
Guiding by an official certified Dovrefjell National Park guide.
Photography tips from Floris Smeets, Sony ambassador.
Single rooms: 2600,- NOK. Only applies for the first and last night. Tents are shared.
Price does not include
Flights to and from Oslo Gardermoen airport
Alcoholic beverages and snacks
Travel insurance: All participants are responsible for their own travel insurance.
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 500mm, 600mm lens or 400mm with 1.4x converter would be more appropriate. 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 this. It is up to you to decide if you will need a tripod for photographing the musk-oxen. Most guests photograph while laying down or resting the lens on a rock or backpack.
Other things you should bring, are:
Plenty of memory cards
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 our recommendations for the number of batteries for each camera body; Sony a9(II), a7III, a7RIII, a7RIV: 5 batteries. Sony a1, a7RV 8 batteries. Nikon Z9 4 batteries, Nikon Z8, Z7 and Z6: 8 batteries. Nikon D5: 3 batteries. Canon R5 and R6: 8 batteries. Canon R3: 4 batteries. Canon1DXseries: 4 batteries
Battery charger (to charge before leaving)
Filters (if you want to do some landscape photography)
Camera bag big enough for all the camera equipment plus some extra clothing and food.
Drones are not allowed in the National Park!
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. Find here the complete packing list.
Jacket. 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. A proper expedition down jacket for temperatures down to -40 degrees Celsius is an absolute must. The best expedition down jacket is the Non-stop dogwear Arctic Jakka.
Shoes. Well isolated snow boots, such as the Baffin Control Max. 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.
Gloves. 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). We recommend Vallerret Photography Gloves.
Trousers. Because your legs warm up a lot during walking, you cannot wear the warmest types of trousers. The combination of a warm pair of skiing trousers plus a insolated shell / insolated rain trousers should do the trick. You will wear the skiing trousers as main trousers and can add the extra layer when we are sitting still for long periods.
Base layers. It all starts with a proper set base layers. Don't go cheap on them! Merino wool is advised.
All images by Floris Smeets
Winter expedition jacket (comfort +/- -30 degrees Celsius)
Either 2 pair of winter / skiing trousers. The second one should be wider, so that it fits over the first one. Or one pair of insulated skiing trousers and a shell layer (can be insulated as well) which can be easily added over the skiing trousers.
Thermo base layer (Merino wool)
Thick woolen sweater
Extra warm (bivi) bonnet / hat
Winter boots (Baffin Control Max or Sorel Caribou wool. These are great for longer hikes and also fit in the snow shoes.)
Gaiters (if the skiing trousers are not tight around the snow boots, you will need gaiters to keep the snow out of your boots.)
At least 2 pair of thick high woolen socks (smart wool)
Thermo base layer gloves
Warm thick down mittens
Skiing / snow goggles (these are needed to be able to see something during a snow storm)
Head light (please bring them with full batteries)
Hand- and feed warmers / heat packs (optional)
Fleece sleeping bag liner which adds 5-10 degrees to the sleeping bag. Fleece material reflects your body heat very well. This means that the sleeping bag will feel warm from the second you get into it, if you use a fleece liner.
Please bring your luggage in a duffel bag and not in a hard case suitcase! Hard case suitcases cannot be taken up to the base-camp! We are limited in how much weight we can bring with the dog sledges. Your duffel bag with clothing should not succeed12kg. If you have any questions regarding the clothing, please feel free to contact us.
Please note: Because of safety reasons, before going into the mountains, the guide 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 and has to stay in a cabin outside the park on own expenses.
For the first time I took part to a photo travel. It was a wonderful experience to start in this passionate photographers environment. Musk’Ox in winter conditions is not only a photo trip but also an outdoor experience. Thanks to the wide knowledge in nature, wildlife and outdoor activities from Floris our guide, I could reach my goals. The small size of the group made possible to quickly build a nice team spirit. Not only guiding the group and sharing his knowledge, our guide was always ready to share advice in photography in order for me to improve my knowledge. Thank you also to the other guests and Ada to have create a nice atmosphere. I definitely enjoyed my trip and looking forward to the next one I’m going to book.
Highlight: Photographing wild animals in their environment without disturbing them.