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Jotunheimen Mountains and Besseggen Ridge

Jotunheimen Mountains and Besseggen Ridge Trek

Overview

Norway is truly a superb country for trekking, and the Jotunheim is a real gem among the nation’s national parks. Known in Norse mythology as the Land of the Giants, Jotunheimen is probably the finest of Norway’s mountain regions and certainly the best for walking with its imposing peaks, beautiful glaciers, dense forests and deep valleys full of streams, rivers and waterfalls. This self guided tour takes you to hikes that have inspired mountaineers for centuries and delivers the best mountain walking in Norway, including a guided glacier trek to Uranostind Peak.

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Bygdin

Take the express bus from Oslo City Bus Terminal or Oslo Airport (included), which will take you directly to Bygdin (4 h). You will stay at a historical lakeshore hotel dating back to 1912, and offering a variety of room types and great cuisine.

Day 2: Mt. Bitihorn or Synshorn Via Ferrata | 10 km

The Bitihorn viewpoint offers a great 360-degree view of the Valdres valley and the mountains in Jotunheimen. Hike from the doorstep at Bygdin.

  • Walking for the day: 5-8 hours, 10 km ↑600 m, Elevation at peak: 1607 m
  • Accommodation: Bygdin Høyfjellshotell or similar

Day 3: Svartdalen (The Black Valley) | 14 km

Cruise on lake Bygdin with M/B Bitihorn between Bygdin and Torfinnsbu (45 min).

The popular hiking route from Torfinnsbu to Gjendebu takes you through Svartdalen, meaning “The Black Valley”, which is often referred to as the most beautiful valley in Jotunheimen. As you wander through this lush valley, you’ll be surrounded by majestic towering peaks, several of which are over 2000 meters high. The Svartdalen track is located in the eastern parts of Jotunheimen and takes you through the municipalities of Vågå in Gudbrandsdalen, and Vang in Valdres. The route is 14 kilometres long (point-to-point), with an elevation of 610 meters. You will spend the night at the oldest of the huts belonging to the Norwegian Mountaineering Association (Den Norske Turistforening – DNT), established in 1871, located at a picturesque spot on the west shore of Lake Gjende. Please note that there’s no cell phone coverage at Gjendebu.

Day 4: Gjendetunga Viewpoint | 10 km

Gjendetunga is the perfect hike for those who want to indulge in a nice, relaxing and shorter trek, but who don’t want to go without a panoramic view experience. Towering over Gjendebu, Gjendetunga lies at 1516 m a.s.l. and is “a not to miss” hike if you’re in this area. On clear days you can enjoy your lunch at the top of the mountain overlooking Gjende and its surrounding mountains in the East and the mountain ranges in the West. This is a road less travelled, but the Gjendetunga hike has earned its rightful place as one of the best ways to experience Gjende.

Day 5: Besseggen | 13 km

In the morning, take the boat from Gjendesheim to Gjendebu (07:45 – 08:30) to start the trek from there. The popular Besseggen ridge is a route of about 6-8 hours (breaks included). The Besseggen hike takes you over the spectacular, steep, and some places, very narrow trails which plunge four hundred meters straight down into the lake below. You will overnight at Gjendesheim dating back to 1878. The cabin is run by DNT and located in the heart of the Norwegian mountains, with Besseggen as its neighbour.

  • Walking for the day: 7-9 hours, 13 km ↑1300 m
  • Accommodation: Gjendesheim DNT or similar

Day 6: Gjendebu to Eidsbugarden | 16 km

The hiking route between the Gjendebu and Eidsbugard takes you from Lake Gjende to Lake Bygdin through Jotunheimen National Park. Starting off from the birch forest by Gjendebu, you follow the Veslådalen valley before heading down to Lake Bygdin and Eidsbugard. The hike is long but moderate, with no steep ascents. Most of the trail is on soft soil, and along the way are views of many of Jotunheimen’s highest peaks. Eisbugarden and Fondsbu Lodge have welcomed royalty, celebrities, and hikers from all over the world. This region is the most-visited mountain area north of the Alps.

  • Walking for the day: 5-7 hours, 16 km ↑516 m
  • Accommodation: Fondsbu DNT or similar

Day 7: Guided Glacier Trek to Uranostind Peak | 17 km

The iconic Uranostind lies at 2157 m.a.s.l. This demanding 10-12 hour hike is great for experienced hikers and will take you past Urdadalsvannet on the way to Koldedalen. Once you reach the Glacier there will be a short change of equipment before the hike continues to Uraknatten and the climb to Uranostind. The trek takes you over crevasses, and you will do some easy climbing and then crawl out on the top ridge and admire the spectacular view from the summit. The weather at high altitudes in Norway can change quickly, and snowstorms can happen every month of the summer. The hike is long, but the spectacular view at the summit is well worth the trip.

  • Walking for the day: 9-12 hours, 17 km ↑1050 m 1050 m, Elevation at peak: 2157 m
  • Accommodation: Fondsbu DNT or similar

Day 8: Departure

Boat Eidsbugarden → Bygdin: 11:30 → 13:15. Departure (bus ticket Bygdin to Oslo 17:53 → 22:07, included). Another option would be to depart from Eidsbugarden to Bergen. In this case, you will leave by taxi to Tyinkrysset (11.25 → 11:55) and from there by bus to Bergen (13.45 → 18.00, included). Note there is a small supplement of approx. 150 NOK.

What to Expect

Accommodation

You’ll be staying in private double/twin rooms in historical hotels and traditional Norwegian tourist lodges, including some of Norway’s most renowned DNT cabins. Some of the accommodations have shared facilities, but a good level of comfort and kitchens are famous for their local cuisine.

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*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included on all days. You can prepare a self-made lunch pack from the breakfast buffet incl. thermos refill (no extra charge). Dinners (two or three-course meals) are also included. There is a small shop located at Høvringen, close to Øigardseter. All lodges sell snacks, drinks and simple meals in the time between the main meals.

Difficulty & terrain

This is an exciting but rather challenging walking holiday, intended for experienced hikers in good physical condition. You’ll be accompanied by accomplished local guides for the two most strenuous hikes, but sure-footedness is required to enjoy it. This will be a rewarding experience that’ll allow you to tick some classic Norwegian summits off your bucket list (read more about difficulty grades). The trail follows well-maintained footpaths and the trails are waymarked. Comprehensive route notes are supplied for the self guided walks. You will be accompanied by an experienced local guide on Day 7. The staff at all lodges will assist with advice and tips if you have any questions about the hikes. You can also call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime.

When to go

This trip is available to start from late June till late August.

The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

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By plane

Our recommended airport for this tour is Oslo.

  • Oslo city or airport return bus tickets are included in your package.

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 nights in comfortable mountain lodges as listed in the itinerary
  • Towels and linen included at all accommodations
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 7 packed lunches (self-prepared from the breakfast buffet)
  • 7 dinners (2/3-course)
  • Bus fare from/to Oslo
  • Experienced local guide for the trek on Day 7
  • Detailed journey documentation and practical information: personalised trip notes and maps (emailed before departure and a map provided at first hotel; one set per room)
  • Luggage transfers (up to 20 kg per person) when changing hotels
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room (upon request only – subject to availability)
  • This trip is not available for solo walkers
  • Extra nights in Oslo or along the trail are bookable upon request

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