Standing atop a thin spit of rock jutting out from a cliff edge over 700 metres above the valley below, my legs shake as I peer over the edge. Clouds form around me and then blow past and I catch glimpses of the giant fjord. I’m standing on Trolltunga (literally meaning ‘Troll’s tongue’ in Norwegian), the view before me is staggeringly beautiful. Trolltunga has become the quintessential Norwegian Fjord experience. Before 2010 less than 800 people a year would make the trip, last year there were over 80,000 visitors! This is due in large part to the power of social media and the striking image that people pose for on top of the rock. It’s a gruelling hike up, over 10 hours round trip but worth every step and every bead of sweat. We decided to make the hike in the afternoon and camp up on top of the mountain. It meant we didn’t have to share the view with many people. Most people make the round trip in a day, to save carrying camping gear that far. When we returned the next morning on our way back down, we could see we had made a very good decision. A few hundred people were queuing to have their moment on the famous monolith; we were later told people waited over 3 hours!
Information on the Trolltunga hike –
I wish I had known some of this before I started the hike, so here’s some information and tips on doing it.
- This is a very popular hike as I said above. If you can, try and visit out of the peak season where it will be much quieter. The season usually starts around mid-June (it depends on the weather and when the snow has melted) and finishes around mid-September. It’s busiest in the middle of the season.
- If you are already going and it’s peak season then you have two options. Start the hike really, really early (it’s 5 – 6 hours to hike there, and when we arrived at mid day it was already crazy busy – this was when we saw a queue of a few hundred people), or better still, leave mid day and camp at the top. There were still people there in the evening but many less, only a handful of people camped up there. There is also a hut that you can pay to sleep in but it’s a 3 hour trek past Trolltunga and isn’t the easiest to find without a map, so I would recommend camping.
- The weather can be bad up there, and often you can only see the inside of a cloud, but have patience, as you can see on the image above, some of the best shots can be taken in split second gaps in between clouds.
- It’s not a technical climb, it’s easy to find the way but it is long. There is about a 1000 metre gain in elevation on the route, but there aren’t too many really steep areas, just a couple of very long hills. It takes the average hiker around 10 – 12 hours to complete the round trip.
- You can fill up your water bottles from streams en route, they are everywhere and perfectly safe to drink.
- I had phone reception over most of the hike, and there is a rangers hut about half way, but no real shelter.
- The total round trip distance is 27.5 km. The trek starts from a large carpark near to Odda, its easy enough to find. One option that we didn’t take but we kind of wish we had, is to pay 500 NOK to drive another 4 km along the trail to a small car park. The car park only holds 30 cars and it is first come, first served. It’s saves you 8 km of walking and a significant amount of height as well, so its definitely worth considering.
I hope that helps! If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll do my best to answer. Here’s a few more shots from the top:
If you walk past Trolltunga and carry on the hike towards the hut, there are some really surreal landscapes. We were trekking at dusk and I felt like I was on another planet –
Although Trolltunga may be the quintessential experience, there are dozens of jaw dropping viewpoints around the fjords. In fact, almost every corner of the area is photogenic. Lush green fields and meadows lead to giant stretches of water towered over by huge steep cliffs. These fjords were carved by giant glaciers millions of years ago. The small towns and fishing villages are just as beautiful. One of my favourite treks was to Preikestolen (meaning Pulpit Rock); this one was a bit easier on the legs too. It’s a 3 – 4 hour hike there and back and there are great views all the way. It is as popular as Trolltunga but there’s much more room on the top for everyone to see and the view is easily as impressive.
There are so many places to visit though, you can go back again and again and always see somewhere new. Wherever you visit on the Norwegian coast, you certainly won’t be disappointed.