My jaw literally dropped the first time I saw a photo of Trolltunga. Instantly I knew I would sit on the edge of the famous "Troll's Tongue." As the end of our trip around the world became near, it was a sprint to the finish line as we (Kyle and I) squeezed in as many countries as possible. With only 2 days to spare, we booked Trolltunga knowing it would be a whirlwind.
What is Trolltunga?
Trolltunga is a horizontal rock that looks like it is hanging on by a thread, located in the Norwegian Fiords about 700 meters above the Ringedalsvatnet river in Skjeggeda. The rock was formed in the ice age 10,000 years ago (!) as the glaciers filled the valleys and reached the cliffs. As the ice melted, it broke off large pieces of rock leaving what is now known as Trolltunga.
How To Get There
Trolltunga is located in the town Skjeggeda, about 7km from Odda. Hikers and visitors typically stay in Odda or use this larger town as a base before embarking on the 8-12 hour hike to Trolltunga. The nearest airport you likely would fly into is Bergen, a 3 hour drive from Odda. We flew into Bergen and drove to Odda that night where we slept. There is a car ferry with a gorgeous view you take through the fiords as part of this drive.
In the morning we started the hike and finished around 3pm. From there we immediately drove back to Bergen where we spent the night for our early flight out the following day. This gave us one full day in Norway which was intense, but so so worth it.
Overview Of Journey
(1 full Day in Norway, 2 Travel Days)
- Arrive in Bergen (no later than 3pm)
- Immediately rent car and drive to Odda (3 hours)
- Stock up on groceries for your hike in Odda (most stores close by 8pm)
- Spend the night in Odda
- Wake up early for hike to Trolltunga (aim to leave by 6:30am)
- Drive to Skjeggeda from Odda (7km, 10 min) where you will begin your hike. *Note, there is plenty of parking, that is clearly marked, as well as bathrooms.
- Finish hike around 3pm
- Drive back to Bergen immediately after hike
- Eat dinner and spend the night at airport hotel in Bergen (Clarion was awesome)
- Leave for flight in the morning
The views, fresh air, and serene nature come at a price at Trolltunga. That price is an intense, grueling hike. I admit, Kyle and I didn't do well planning - we had just come from a long travel day and drank beers the night before (ugh!). But we were just fine.
By the end of the 9 hour trek, our legs were shaking and feet totally aching. Anyone who "didn't struggle" with this hike is either not being honest or is a pro athlete. The difficulty is what makes it so special though and I wouldn't trade that accomplishment for anything in the world.
Now that you understand what you are getting yourself into, you can focus on the good parts. The fresh air, crystal clear Norwegian waters, and vast snow capped cliffs were sensational. Nature is preserved and untouched here. You feel like you are on the edge of the Earth where smog, pollution, and crowds do not exist. It is truly glorious. All I want is to relive that euphoric feeling of taking a deep breath atop those mountains again.
What To Expect
The hike is 11 km up to Trolltunga and 11 km back down to the start. It is not a circuit, but a round trip journey. The beginning of the hike is the steepest, by far. I think 90 something percent of the ascent is done within the first 2 km of the hike. This means the other 9 km up are hardly steep and even flat at times.
What makes the hike particularly difficult is not the altitude, the steepness, nor even the weather. It is the terrain. Expect to be climbing over rocks, trudging through mud, sliding in snow, and leaping across streams. The ever changing terrain forces you to stay focused and constantly engage all muscles. You will also be extremely grateful for a flat rock sticking out of the mud that makes for a perfect step.
I slipped in mud (in front of a lot of people might I add) while chatting with Kyle. I had to hike the remaining 4 hours with my entire backside covered in mud! Ugh, oh well it's not like I wasn't going to shower that night anyways. My point is, it is important to stay focused here.
On the flipside, the changing terrain makes the journey really fun. I get bored sometimes if nothing ever changes. Trolltunga offers incredible views and new landscapes that keep things interesting throughout.
Reaching The Summit (Trolltunga!)
Trolltunga is the summit of your journey, 11 km up. The earlier you leave for the hike (like 5-6am early), the better because there will be many people there taking pictures. When Kyle and I arrived there were 3 people in front of us waiting but I heard that later in the day the wait can be as long as 45 minutes. What a buzz kill!
One positive to this is there will always be someone there to take a picture of your group if you want one together. The summit makes an incredible lunch spot too.
Even if there are many people waiting to take a photo, do not rush through yours. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that took a grueling hike to accomplish. Walk out on that rock, take a deep breath in, and enjoy that incredible moment. It will be imprinted in your mind forever. If you are with a group, do it alone first. This is for you and you only!
After The Hike
That epic moment when you reach your car at the end of the hike can't be beat. But If you are cramming the adventure in one day like we did, then you your day will not be over yet. We drove 3 hours back to Bergen to spend the night at an airport hotel for our early flight the following day. Sitting in a car actually felt nice after hiking all day and knowing we would be near the airport in the morning was comforting.
We were surprised to find our airport hotel was AMAZING. The Clarion was a 30 second walk from the airport and check in for flights was available in the lobby. There is a really good restaurant (believe it or not), Kitchen and Table, attached with tons of healthy options. We never wanted to leave! It was strangely one of our favorite hotel experiences from our trip around the world.