After having our lunch in Mariefred, we started walking towards the Nature Reserve. It is a 15 minute walk from the castle. It is called as Gripsholms Hjorthage Naturreservat (Hjorthagen). Hjort translates to deer in Swedish language. Official information about the place can be found on this website. I will try to explain our experience.
As we ( me and my friends) walked towards the deer park, we were excited and apprehensive if we will actually sight deers. I had seen pictures on Google map, but one always wonders the chances of them being a rare event. As we reached the gate of the park, we thought it was awfully quiet. We even wondered if it had any timings to enter. But as we approached the gate, we just read a sign saying stay on the main road.
We opened the gate and started walking. We had kept atleast an hour for this activity. It was a very cloudy day, we wondered if it is a good or bad for sighting. We walked for 10 minutes, staring eagerly behind every tree. Trying to find if we could spot even one. We were going to walk through the park and cross it to other side and reach a road which will lead to Läggesta Station.
There are benches kept every five minutes of the road. Finally we sat down on one of the benches and wondered how will we see the deer as the road had wired fencing and private homes on one side and hills with broken trees and greenery on other side. We made up our minds after 15 minutes that we might be unlucky and just have to make peace with no sighting.
Just when we were about to give up we saw a small side path which we decided to climb. As we climbed up, we got a surprise of our life. A huge plain with 20-30 deers grazing aroung. We were thrilled to see them, as we weren’t even expecting one. They were all far from us, only a small group which were 100 meters from us. We of course did not leave the designated area. We sat and observed them for a while.
Thoroughly satisfied we decided to move forward after about half an hour, but then we spotted this herd of 8 animals sitting quietly. This time they were only 50 steps away from us. Park has benches kept in differet locations, where tourists could sit and obsevre. It was such an overwhelming experience to see these eigth. They looked magnificent and calm.
We stared at them for another half an hour. It was amazing. They kept on looking at us and ruminating. All of us had no charge in our mobiles, so no videos. But they etched strong memories in our minds. I remember seeing them even as I closed my eyes to sleep at night. It was surreal.
I was so satisfied after this thrilling experience. I had never seen any animal so close in its natural surrounding. By the way, these are called Royal fallow deers. Basically European fallow. They have spots on their skin and beautiful antlers. Difference between them and Indian fallow deers is that Indian ones have just a spot of white on their necks , while these have coplete white necks. Also antlers are far more dense in these European ones.
This reserve boasts of around 100 deers and hence I think you will definetly spot them. Practical information, please carry a Zoom lens ( more than 100mm) for better pictures. I just had 24-70mm Tamaron lens.
A small attempt to capture them and myself in same view.
What seemed amazing to us seemed pretty common to locals. We were roaming star struck while the locals were running around as if it is their daily route to run. Such is life!!
I am highly recommending this activity when in Mariefred. Please please visit this place with your family and hope you are lucky enough to sight them up close.