A few years ago I had a roundtrip in the Ryfylke and Hardangerfjord area visiting some of Norway´s most famous and beautiful tourist-icons.
I started from Oslo on a Friday afternoon after work and drove the 450 kilometer long road towards Ryfylke and Preikestolhytta Mountain Lodge. It was autumn and a great time of year for hiking in the Norwegian mountains.
The goal for the day was Preikestolen (the Pulpit Rock), a mountain plateau raging 604 meters above the Lysefjord. The four kilometer long hike and 330 meter climb takes 2-3 hours one way. I started at Preikestolhytta Mountain Lodge and followed the marked path to the summit which is one of the best views in Norway.
Preikestolen is a popular goal for both Norwegians and foreign tourists. It can be crowded on the flat plateau that measures only 25 times 25 meters and with three of the edges going vertically straight down into the Lysefjord. This is where parts of Mission Impossible 6 – Fallout was filmed last year and where we can see Tom Cruise is hanging out from the vertical cliff above the Lysefjord.
After the compulsory visit on the Preikestolen Plateau, I headed to the surrounding mountains on the backside. From there it is even better view towards Preikestolen and the Lysefjord, and I spent several hours in this area.
The weather was nice most of the time. But when I started the descend back towards the starting point, the weather changed dramatically. This is why you have to follow the Norwegian Mountain Code when hiking in the Norwegian Mountains, it can change from summer and sunny weather to winter and frost in minutes.
Back at Preikestolhytta, I had a short break and an ice cream before I continued driving 230 kilometers north towards my next goal; Lake Bondhusvatnet at Sunndal in the Hardangerfjord area. Lake Bondusvatnet and the Bondhusbreen Glacier was one of Norway´s first tourist attractions, and I have wanted to visit this place for many years. I arrived the starting point of the trail after midnight, slept in the car and woke up early in the morning.
The hike to Lake Bondhusvatnet is short and easy along a well-organized trail, a trail that also can be used by wheelchair-users. I enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the trail and at the estuary of the lake. In the early days when the first tourists discovered this place, the glacier was much larger than it is today. The trail continues to the inner part of the lake, but it is not recommended to hike up to the glacier due to the danger of avalanche.
The Låtefoss Waterfall
Since I started the hike to Lake Bondhusvatnet early in the morning, I had time for some more adventures that day. I continued driving towards Odda at the innermost part of Sørfjorden, and up the Oddadalen Valley to the Låtefoss Waterfall. Låtefoss is a twin waterfall dropping 165 meters, ending under an old stone-vault bridge and into the Grønsdalslona River. The waterfall is one of Norway´s most visited nature attractions. The flow in the waterfall was great this day, and it was fascinating to watch it falling down from the mountainside.
I continued back through the Oddadalen Valley and had to stop several times due to the numerous waterfalls cascading down into the valley. There is definitely a reason the Oddadalen Valley is called “the Valley of Waterfalls”. I drove back to Odda and northwards along Sørfjorden to Lofthus. Sørfjorden is a 38 kilometer long branch of the 179 kilometer long Hardangerfjord, the Queen of the Fjords. This is also the starting point of the famous hike to Trolltunga (The Trolls Tongue), you start at Skjeggedal between Odda and Lofthus.
At Lofthus I could not resist to stay overnight at Hotel Ullensvang, a hotel that has been voted as the best hotel in Norway. The hotel is situated by the fjord, and it was fantastic to swim in the outside pool with fjord view in the afternoon before having a delicious dinner and a cold beer in the evening. After a good nights sleep and breakfast at the hotel, I borrowed one of the hotel´s wooden boats and had the fjord all by myself in the morning hours.
The goal for the last day in the fjords was to hike parts of HM Queen Sonja`s Panoramic Hiking Trail between Lofthus and Kinsarvik. Kinsarvik is only nine kilometers north of Lofthus, at the outer part of Sørfjorden, and I parked the car at Røte above Kinsarvik. The hike along the forest road up to the starting point of the Queens Trail took some time, but the prize was great. The view towards the Hardangerfjord was breathtaking. This is where four branches of the Hardangerfjord meets; Sørfjorden, Utnefjord, Eidfjord and Kinsarvikbukti.
My fjord-adventure was soon at it´s end, and the last part of the drive continued from Kinsarvik to Eidfjord and up the Måbødalen Valley to the Hardangervidda Mountain Plateau. Only one last stop at Fossli Hotel and the panorama-view over the Vøringsfossen Waterfalls. If you have time, you should do the short hike to the base of the Vøringsfossen Waterfall, see video below.
Then I headed back to Oslo via Hardangervidda Mountain Plateou, one of Norway´s 10 National Tourist Routes in Western Norway. Three adventurous days at the fjords were over, but the memories will always be there.
If you drive in a car in Norway, this is a scenic and beautiful round trip that is highly recommended. You can combine it with other areas in Western Norway, like Geiranger and Trollstigen, and also Luster, the Lustrafjord and the Sognefjellet Mountain Road. Read about “Go West”, a round trip in Vestland and Møre og Romsdal.