A Practical Guide to Hiking Trolltunga, Pulpit Rock and Kjeragbolten in 5 Days
Norway's Most Incredible Hikes
The southwestern area of Norway contains three of the country's most breathtaking and most famous hikes. Many people may have seen pictures of the rock ledge jutting out high above the fjord below at Trolltunga; or the flat table that is Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) which soars more than 600 meters above the Lysefjord; or the magnificent, not-for-the-faint-hearted, boulder suspended almost 1 kilometer above the deep abyss at Kjeragbolten.
If, like me, you have a thirst for adventure and an insatiable desire to visit the most beautiful places on earth then once you've seen the pictures of these classic Norway hikes you'll be wondering how you can get there in person and capture the moment for yourself.
Planning Your Norway Adventure
This article provides a five-day itinerary for your visit to Norway that enables you to complete all three of these memorable hikes. I suggest that you follow this itinerary in the summer between the months of June to the end of August.
For your Norway hiking adventure you will need:
- Return flights to Stavanger Sola Airport
- A rental car
- Camping equipment
- Good quality hiking clothing and walking boots
- Plenty of food provisions
- Some cash
- A good camera. You will want to document what you see, it's not easy to describe.
5-Day Norway Hiking Itinerary
Day 1: Stavanger Sola Airport to Trolltunga
So for the first day your main aim is to get to Trolltunga while the day is still light. Aim to arrive at Stavanger Sola Airport in the morning to give you plenty of time to make the journey by car to Trolltunga. The airport is small and fairly quiet so it shouldn't take you long to collect your rental car and be on your way. The route up to Trolltunga includes a car ferry crossing. Cars that measure less than 6 meters long are free but you have to pay for the occupants; the fare is 43NOK per adult. The ferry journey takes about 20 minutes and they run on a timetable of 2-3 crossings per hour. You will also be driving on some roads that have tolls; the car rental office will likely give you an option to pay the toll charges upfront.
IF you have GPS, then enter this address as your destination: Skjeggedal Carpark, '59.5"N 6°37'31.9"E, 6007, Norway. This is the car park for the start of the Trolltunga hike. There is a parking tax here which is charged according to how long you stay. Charges are: 1-5 hours = 100NOK; 6-15 hours = 200NOK; and 16-24 hours = 400NOK.
Note that it is prohibited to camp at the car park and you cannot sleep in your car. In fact it is prohibited to camp anywhere within 3 km of the starting point for the Trolltunga hike (i.e. the car park).
So for you first night's accommodation you have two options: one option is to camp, or find a B&B, in nearby Tyssedal or Odda. The second option, and the option that I'm suggesting for the purpose of this itinerary, is to make a start on the Trolltunga hike on the first day and walk to about 4-5 km and set up camp here. Just make sure that there is enough daylight left to ensure that you have time to make the distance and set up camp before it gets dark. The first kilometer of the hiking trail is very tough so you may make slow progress. I would advise that you allow up to two hours to make it to your camping spot. Don't be expecting any nice flat grassy fields as you would on a managed campsite. This is wild terrain and you have to make do with a plot that doesn't meet your usual levels of comfort. That said, I can assure you from personal experience that there are suitable spots around the 4-5 km mark.
Day 2: Hiking Trolltunga and Resting
By getting to the 4-5 km point on the first day and setting up camp, you've effectively given yourself a two-hour head-start on all those hikers who will be starting the hike from the beginning on the next morning. Once you've had a good sleep, wake up bright and early on day 2 and leave everything you don't need in the tent. Pack up a day sack with what you need and make your way up to the troll's tongue. Here's more detailed information on the Trolltunga hike.
Once you've had your fun at the top, make your way back down and pack up your tent. Get back to the car and it's time to move on towards your next hike. You'll need rest after the 22 km exertions of Trolltunga so I suggest that you take it easy on day 2. Set your GPS to take you towards Preikestolen (the destination for your next hike to Pulpit Rock). Along the way you will pass some wonderful waterfalls as you pass Odda. When you reach the town of Roldal there is a campsite called Seim Camping. This is a lovely little peaceful campsite costing around 90NOK per adult. It has hot showers and basic cooking facilities. All that you need for a relaxing evening to recharge the batteries ahead of the hike to Pulpit Rock on day 3.
Camera Recommendation to Capture Your Travels
The next step up from a DSLR but still accessible to the amateur. Small and light for traveling. Provides sharp photos of rock formations and architecture, including in low light conditions.
Day 3: Preikestolen - Preparing for the Pulpit Rock Hike
Wake up on day 3 and drive down to Preikestolen Fjellstue. This is the hotel/hostel positioned right at the start of the Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) hike. Prices are 770NOK for a 2 bed room in the hostel and 1500NOK for a room in the hotel. Whilst the location is perfect and the included breakfast is excellent, the quality of the accommodation is poor. The reviews of the place are generally poor and there seems to be a big problem with bedbugs that the hotel management seem unwilling to tackle no matter how many people complain. I myself was devoured by bedbugs during my one night stay and was still itching almost a week later. So, if you do stay here be warned. The alternative is to stay at the Preikestolen campsite located only a few kilometers away.
This is a rest day, so just enjoy the views, take a gentle stroll and recharge the batteries. You'll take on the Preikestolen hike first thing in the morning.
Day 4: The Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) Hike
Wake up bright and early in the morning as you want to be starting the hike before the busloads of hikers arrive from Stavanger and the surrounding area.
The hike (details here) will take you about 4-5 hours depending on how long you spend at the rock. If the weather is pleasant, you could easily spend many hours up there, as the views are so impressive.
When you've had your fill of Pulpit Rock it's time to go and check out that fjord that you were looking down on more than 700 meters below you. It is possible to drive to your next destination but it takes at least two and a half hours. For the purpose of this itinerary I recommend that you take the Lysefjord Tourist Ferry from Forsand.
The port at Forsand is only a 20 minute drive from Preikestolen and you'll have plenty of time after the Pulpit Rock hike to make the second daily departure time of 3 pm. The ferry only operates until the end of summer so please check the website for details and for booking. It is advised to book in advance but I don't believe that it's necessary. The ferry will arrive in Lysebotn at the eastern end of the Lysefjord at approximately 5.45pm. This is the area where you will be spending the night ahead of the third and final epic Norway hike: the hike to Kjeragbolten.
There is only one official option for spending the night here, and that's the Lysebotn Campsite. However, traveller reviews of the site are poor and there are concerns about cleanliness and the poor attitude of the owner. There is also a B&B but it is massively overpriced, and again, there is lots of negative feedback from previous guests.
The unofficial option is to go wild camping. You have limited options in terms of where you can do this, and it's not generally encouraged locally, but if you abide by the leave-no-trace principles and you are discreet then there are a couple of locations along the route up to the Oygardstol car park (the starting point for the Kjeragbolten hike). However, I must stress that there are no camping possibilities whatsoever at or near the car park. Camping or sleeping in your car at the car park is strongly prohibited and is actively enforced by staff of the Norway Tourist Agency. Plus, the surrounding terrain would make it near-impossible to pitch a tent. So, find yourself somewhere along the route between Lysebotn and Oygardstol, near one of the 27 hairpin bends, and hunker down for the night.
Day 5: Kjeragbolten Hike
Wake up bright and early for the final epic Norway hike of your trip. We set off at 6.45am and had completed the hike by 11.15am. Here is a detailed account of the Kjeragbolten hike. The Kjerag Restaurant is located next to the car park so be sure to pop in for a warming fish soup or a hot drink at the end of your hike to relax and reflect on your achievement of completing three of Norway's greatest hikes over the last few days.
Once you're feeling refreshed and ready to go it's time to move on to whatever you want to do next. The itinerary has been completed and you can pat yourself on the back. Our time in Norway was coming to an end and so we had booked our final night's accommodation in a room that we'd booked through Airbnb. We booked a place about half an hour away from Stavanger Sola airport. It was great having a nice bed to sleep in after several nights spent camping outdoors. We were able to dry all of our wet clothes and our wet tent and really freshen up before flying home the next afternoon.
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Questions & Answers
On your way to Kyeragbolten, did you park on the side of the road and pitch your tent? Were there any wild camping spots on the trail?
No wild camping spots along the trail. They are quite strict about it and the fines are high. It's almost all rock too so it would be difficult to pitch anywhere.
© 2016 Matt Doran