Elgå, Lake Femund
It was the winter of 2002 when I discovered the beautiful Norwegian village of Elgå, on Lake Femund, for the first time. 16 years on it was time to return but this time I would be sharing its beauty with Didem
Discovering Elgå, Norway in the winter of 2002
Elgå is a small village in Engerdal municipality in Hedmark, Norway. It is located at the eastern edge of lake Femunden. Elgå is a small community, with about 50 inhabitants. The village offers a fish smokery, a couple of hotels, cafés, a national park centre, a small church and a small supermarket.
It was February 2002 and I was visiting Sweden with my sister, Marianne, Brother-in-law James and my Dad. We spent an enjoyable first week in a sweet little rented cabin in the village of Blyberg, just north of Mora, Dalarna.
Although there was an abundance of snow and more than enough for the majority of people, we required more! So, for the second week of our vacation, we decided to rent a cabin in the wilds of northern Dalarna and headed north to Grövelsjön. Here there was more snow than we knew what to do with!
On one of the days Marianne, James and I decided that we would take a trip to Norway. As we were less than 10 km from the border, it just made sense. What’s more, neither one of us had ever visited Norway before.
Dad choose not to come with us as he was feeling somewhat under the weather following the activities of the previous day.
A brief summary…
Three twenty-somethings plus a young at heart 72-year-old is not always a good mix when snow, ice and outdoor activities are concerned!
In the morning, I succeeded in crashing our rented snowmobile with my Father on the back, badly bruising his leg.
In the evening, the four of us felt it wise to tow each other in pairs on Sparks from the back of our car.
Yep, you guessed it, my Dad fell heavily on the hard, icy road leaving him with two broken ribs!
As you can imagine, Dad’s holiday from that point lacked any further activity accept sitting, sleeping and eating.
As we joined the 1059 road in Grövelsjön we saw a signpost for Elgå 26 km away. Elgå was, therefore, going to be the destination of our first Norwegian visit!
The quiet, snow-covered road climbed gradually as we left Grövelsjön with little more than trees and snow to keep us interested. Just a few kilometres passed and we were crossing the Norwegian border where the road now became the 221.
Soon after, the road plateaued, the trees became smaller, sparser and the barren mountain tops could be seen all around us. It was remoteness at its beautiful best!
The road continued to meander through the white icy wilderness, soon passing the frozen lakes of Fjellgutusjøen and Djupsjøen on our left-hand side followed shortly by Lille Elgåsjøen on our right.
Before long we were entering the small village of Elgå and we decided to park up when we were greeted by the frozen expanse of Norway’s third biggest lake – Femund (Femunden in Norwegian).
Being out of season and very cold, we were not looking for anything specific to do except enjoy whatever our first destination in Norway had to offer. Apart from taking in the spectacular views across the lake and distant mountains, we could think of little else to do than grab a bite to eat.
Discovering Femund Fjellstue
Thankfully, sitting adjacent to where we had parked, there was a hotel called the Femund Fjellstue. We opened the front door and entered which was a good start as we were not convinced it would even be open at this time of year.
At first, there was not a person to be found so we called out and soon enough a jovial character with a big smile appeared and welcomed us in.
He seemed almost surprised when we asked if food was being served. With not another soul to be seen, we were fully expecting the answer to be “no”. Thankfully, a resounding “Yes” greeted our ears!
We enjoyed a very tasty lunch and our host was very forthcoming with answers to the questions we had regarding Elgå and the surrounding area.
We left this beautiful little lakeside village with fond memories and a promise that we would return someday. Never did I think that it would take 16 years!
Visiting Elgå in 2018
When Didem and I began planning our visit to Sweden in February 2018, I told her that we must include a day trip to Elgå. This time, we were not going to leave things to chance. I emailed the owners, Rolf and Tone Eriksen and told them of our plan to visit their hotel for lunch in early February.
They promptly replied and asked if we could come on February 6th as the hotel was closed either side of this date for refurbishment. We agreed and even put in a cheeky request for elk to be served on our visit but thought nothing more of that request.
On February 6th we set out on the same wonderful drive from Storsätern, just south of Grövelsjön, that I had experienced all those years before with my Sister and Brother-in-law.
We parked in front of the Femund Fjellstue and knocked on the door. Tone answered the door but told us that the hotel was closed at this time of year. We explained that we were the couple who had organised this visit via email.
Once she realised who we were, she smiled, greeted us and told us that our elk burgers had been prepared and would be served whenever we wanted to eat. Large smiles promptly swept across our faces!
Following a short stroll so that I could show Didem some of the views across the lake, we returned to the hotel where this time we were welcomed by Rolf and Sara (their beautiful dog) as well. I immediately realised that Rolf was the jovial gentleman who had welcomed us into this hotel 16 years previously.
As we sat and ate our beautifully tasty and tender elk burgers, we were treated to our very own nature spectacle as three elk wandered from the woods into the field directly outside the dining room window. Here they remained, while we ate, before retreating to the woods for a little privacy.
It was almost like they had appeared purely for our viewing satisfaction. Tone informed us that this was by no means a regular occurrence which helped make this experience that bit more special!
Rolf and Tone shared some fascinating stories and information about life in Elgå, as well as their touring trips around Europe (with Sara). One of Rolf’s duties as hotel owner and resident of the town is to clear snow from a section of the frozen lake in winter so that private pilots can land their small aircraft on the lake.
When he first mentioned this, we weren’t sure if he was kidding. We were then shown photos that proved that Rolf really was also the village’s runway creator. Incredible!
Tone also informed us that we had come to Elgå on National Sámi Day (February 6th). It was on this date in 1917 when the first Sámi congress took place in Trondheim, Norway.
This was the first time that Norwegian and Swedish Sámi gathered across national borders to work together to seek solutions for common problems.
Enjoying our wonderful lunch in the presence of such friendly, interesting and knowledgeable people was a real pleasure. We could have stayed all day!
Upon leaving we promised that we would definitely return again. Next time, we want to enjoy this location in all its summer beauty and most definitely as guests of Rolf and Tone at Femund Fjellstue!
Why is Elgå such a popular summer destination?
Now, there may not be an awful lot going on in the depths of winter but there are a number of really good reasons as to why Elgå is such a popular summer vacation base. Situated on the eastern side of lake Femund, Norway’s third biggest lake, this area is very popular for both fishing and canoeing.
Elgå is also located just to the south of the Femundsmarka National Park, one of the largest continuous, unspoiled wilderness regions in Southern Scandinavia. This is a very popular area for hiking. This was confirmed by Tone at Femund Fjellstue who told us that the majority of their guests come to enjoy the area’s hiking trails.
The Norwegian Trekking Association has highlighted Femundsmarka National Park as one of the three best hiking areas in Norway.
If you are a true lover of nature you will be pleased to know that thousands of reindeer live in Elgå and the surrounding area. In fact, they are Norway’s most southerly herd of reindeer and they are looked after by the local Sami people.
Explore Lake Femund on the MS Fæmund II
What better way to explore the 203 square kilometre, 60 km long Lake Femunden than on board the 100-year-old MS Fæmund II. You can stop off at five ports on the eastern side of the lake and three ports on the western side.
Jumping aboard the MS Fæmund II is a great way for all nature lovers to explore the Femundsmarka National Park. Here is the sailing route guide of the MS Fæmund II to help you plan your travels around the area.
Having experienced the beautiful village of Elgå on two occasions, in mid-winter, it is now definitely time to enjoy its many summer offerings. We are especially looking forward to taking advantage of the wide array of hiking trails on offer.
When we do return we will most definitely be booking our stay at the Femund Fjellstue and once again enjoy the hospitality of Rolf, Tone and Sara!
If you have any questions about our experience in Elgå and/or visiting Femund Fjellstue, please drop them into the comment box below and we will happily share all the details with you. Always keep checking back as the Roaming Spices blog is constantly evolving…