Gjende (or Gjendin) is a lake in the Jotunheimen mountains in Norway's Jotunheimen National Park. The proglacial lake shows typical characteristics of glacial formation, being long and narrow, with steep walls18 km in length and only 1.5 km in width at the broadest point. Gjende has a characteristic light-green color resulting from the large quantity of rock flour which is discharged into the Gjende by the Muru river. The river Sjoa provides the outlet from Gjende at Gjendesheim, and flows eastward into the Gudbrandsdalslågen river.

Lake Gjende to the left, as seen from Besseggen, looking in the direction of Memurubu and Gjendebu. Lake Bessvatnet to the right.
Coordinates61°29′22″N 08°40′48″E
Primary inflowsRiver Muru
Primary outflowsRiver Sjoa
Basin countriesNorway
Max. length18 km (11 mi)
Max. width1.25 km (0.78 mi)
Surface area15.64 km2 (6.04 sq mi)
Average depth64 m (210 ft)
Max. depth149 m (489 ft)
Water volume1,030×10^3 m3 (36×10^6 cu ft)
Shore length140.32 km (25.05 mi)
Surface elevation983.7 m (3,227 ft)
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Gjende lies in the middle of Jotunheimen National Park and both to the north and south of the lake lie peaks greater than 2,000 m. There are numerous staffed tourist cabins maintained by the Norwegian Mountain Touring Association (DNT); in the west end lies Gjendebu, on the north side lies Memurubu and on the east end lies Gjendesheim. In the summer boats provide transport between these locations.


The name (Old Norse *Gendir) is derived from Norse gandr m 'staff, stick'. This is referring to the form of the long and narrow lake.

See also Bygdin

Cultural and literary references

Lake Gjende is found in literature and travel books from the 18th century. Together, the Jotunheimen lakes of Gjende and Bygdin play in many such descriptions. For example, Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt took his famous wild-reindeer ride along "the Gjendin Ridge", a reference to either the narrow Besseggen Ridge - or the Knutshø ridge on the other side of lake Gjende.

The official name Gjende is taken from the Gudbrandsdal traditional district dialect used in Lom and Vågå. In the Vang dialect the lake is called Gjendin, which is the form you find in Henrik Ibsen's name for what is now called Besseggen, formerly Gjendineggen, or Gendineggen in the older orthography. The name Gjende is derived from the old Norse word "gandir" that can be translated into "straight stick", whereas the lake to the south Bygdin can be translated as "bent stick", the two names thereby referring to the shape of the lakes.

The lake gave its name to a famous early outdoors man and free thinker, Jo Gjende (17941884), who had a cabin at Gjende.

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