Unless you were born with hiking poles like most Norwegians seem to be, you many need some help before conquering the mighty tongue of the troll known as Trolltunga, Norway. After reading other blogs and doing this hike myself, I decided more help should be thrown out there into the universe so here is A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking Trolltunga.
The weather in Norway is crazy. It rains quite a bit and it can be freezing in the summer. Plan carefully because you may not like walking through snow. Here are the official rules for when you can hike with and without a guide and when you may die. Seriously.
I went the last week of August and was extremely lucky with a gorgeous day. It had rained the day before and the trail was muddy and rocks slippery, which apparently is common. I started out feeling chilly even with my layer on but after only ten minutes of hiking, took off a layer. After another ten minutes I was in a tank top and stayed that way until an hour before the sunset.
I chose to use a guide and went with the company Trolltunga Active. I am not an experienced hiker and really wasn’t sure whether I would be able to find my way on my own. Turns out this was a silly concern since the path is well-marked with red T’s on rocks and trees to guide you. It is virtually impossible to get lost. Also if you go at peak season, there are always plenty of other hikers on the trail. If I was to get a do-over, I would go alone and save myself the money plus the annoyance of waiting for the slowest one in the group (which thankfully wasn’t me). You always meet other solo hikers along the way as well.
A shout out to OJ our guide from Trolltunga Active. He was great and incredibly patient with a group of eight women.
Norway is not an easy country to get around. I did it the hard way and wasted a lot of time. Wherever you are in Norway you need to make your way to Skjeggedal the day of the hike which is where the hike begins. Please don’t ask me to pronounce this. If you start in Bergen which is the closest large city, you need to find your way via private car or public transportation to Lofthus, Odda or Tyssedal and find lodging there.
The bus from Bergen to Odda takes about 3 hours. The bus schedules and a trip planner can be found here at the Skyss website.
I wanted to try to make this travel day more scenic and touristy so I did the Norway in a Nutshell, Hardangerfjord route. I don’t really recommend this and will be posting a review of this soon.
From Odda you are well-positioned to hike Trolltunga. If you start early you can get to Trolltunga in time to hike up and camp overnight which sounds amazing and I wish I had done this. You can see sunset and sunrise and have much less people mucking up the works at the top. If you don’t plan to do this, there is no rush to get to Odda. Enjoy half a day in Bergen and take an afternoon bus. You really just need to arrive in time to sleep.
In Odda there are buses to Tyssedal and during peak season a shuttle from Odda to Skjeggedal where the hiking trailhead is. I stayed in Lofthus, took a bus to Tyssedal, couldn’t catch the shuttle and ended up hitchhiking. Apparently this is not all that uncommon. I have never hitchhiked in my life and probably won’t again unless desperate AF. I was with a Dutch girl I met on the bus so we were brave together. A nice man who worked for the energy company picked us up and we picked up two Filipino girls along the way.
For more information on getting to Trolltunga, http://en.hardangerfjord.comtrolltunga
There is a Trolltunga Hotel that is basically an expensive hostel but is in a great location.
The Tyssedal Hotel is also very close, beautiful and some rooms have fjord views. I also heard they serve dinner until 10:00 pm which matters if your hike runs late.
Odda is a bigger town with the main bus station in the region and a few hotel options there including the Hardanger Hotel.
Lofthus is not as convenient as these other places so of course that’s where I stayed. It is a forty minute bus ride from Lofthus to Tyssedal. However there is a striking historic luxurious hotel in Lofthus called Hotel Ullensvang and I couldn’t resist forking over too much money to stay here. I regretted this decision only because Lofthus was kind of far from Trolltunga and I stressed over transportation back and forth. Getting back in the evening I had to call a taxi from Odda, paid almost $80 and the hotel was no longer serving dinner by the time I returned. I didn’t have time to enjoy the hotel facilities at all. You live and learn, eh?
You can also check into Airbnb, hostels or couch surfing. I met other hikers who were doing some of these things.
Backpack I brought a cheap packable backpack since this was the only hiking I was doing on a two week trip to Scandinavia. It did the trick.
Waterproof hiking boots Break them in first. You may be ankle-deep in mud at some points.
Extra socks I recommend changing these at the top. Even if you didn’t step in water, your feet will like the break from those sweaty old things and you will be more comfy for the trip down.
Extra shirt I was chilly at top so so I exchanged the sweat infested shirt with a fresh long sleeved shirt.
Layers You are alternately sweating or freezing. This is Norway. Rain is always a possibility. Lightweight items are best for stuffing in backpack when not using.
Snacks You burn 3000-4000 calories on this hike depending on your size and age. Bring nutrient dense food that doesn’t take a lot of room. I had protein bars, nuts, an apple and a couple of cheese sandwiches.
Refillable water bottle There are streams and waterfalls all with delicious clean mountain water so refill often.
Flashlight Hopefully you won’t need this. I always bring a small one after I was stuck in the desert once after dark. Long story.
First aid stuff/blister pads I think everyone on our hike needed these!
Camera, back up, phone charger, etc. You will be working hard to get those great photos and not having the right equipment would be a huge downer!
Sunscreen I actually got a sunburn. I live in Miami and NEVER get get a sunburn because I am a sunblock nazi. Wear plenty of sunblock and reapply often because it sweats right off.
Do your research (like reading this…good job!!)
Work out! I recommend stairs. Do every other step. Those bigger steps are necessary in parts of the hike.
You don’t want to be that person that has to go back but take these signs seriously. If you don’t make it to this point by 1300, you won’t be able to go all the way up, enjoy it and be back before dark.
So how is it…really? Well, it’s fantastic, but you will work hard to get that ultimate view and instagram worthy picture. I will break it down:
The entire ascent is approximately 700 meters. The first km is extremely steep and you ascend almost 500 meters in this short distance. There are rocky steps this entire first segment, sometimes muddy and slippery. There is at times a dirty rope to hold on to and boy did I. I was very thankful for the walking stick that was provided for me. We stopped every 1/4 km to breathe a minute or so.
After this brutal first part it gets better…for just a bit…then right at the 3rd km there is a very steep part again. After this you see the 4km/turn around sign that I showed above and you have made it. At this point you have almost ascended as high as you will go. The rest is minor ups and downs but not steep and the scenery is jaw-droppingly gorgeous…almost other- worldly. This is when I really enjoyed the hike. Not going to lie, that first part was a bitch!
Make sure you stop and refill your water at streams and waterfalls, which are everywhere. You should be drinking 1/2 liter per hour and eating snacks often. This lake is slightly more than halfway and is a good place to stop for lunch with a view.
It takes about five hours to reach the top unless you are an fast hiker. Stopping to eat, breathe, relieve yourself or take pics adds to the time. Once you reach the top you want to make sure you have enough time. I waited thirty minutes for a picture. I’ve heard it can be worse! You want to have at least an hour at the top to enjoy, not counting time spent in line.
I enjoyed the less crowded and equally beautiful “mini tongue” to the left of the “main tongue”.
At some point, you have to go back. You need to time this properly because after dark, this would not be fun! Those rocky steps in the first few kilometers are no joke. I thought going up was hard but coming down was a different kind of misery. In June the days are longest. In late August the sun sets around 2030. We left the top at 1530 to give ourselves enough time and we made it with some time to spare before dark.
I wish you all luck and would love to hear your stories and experiences with this hike! Please comment or contact me privately. Happy Trolltunga-ing!
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