- Some of Norway's most dramatic mountain scenery
- Includes Besseggen Ridge and beautiful Svartdalen
- Hike between comfortable mountain cabins
- Luggage is transferred by boat
- Optional Glacier Hike or King's Road extensions
- Return bus tickets from Oslo included
Challenging hiking with luggage transfers to lighten the load
Norway is a country with no shortage of breathtaking scenery, but the mountains of Jotunheimen National Park are some of the jewels in the crown, with a captivating landscape of majestic mountain peaks, clear blue lakes and wide, glacial valleys.
Hiking Besseggen and the Jotunheimen National Park is a cabin-to-cabin tour. You will be hiking with a day pack during the day but your main luggage is transported to the next cabin by boat, leaving you free to enjoy the views with a lighter load! The hiking can be challenging and you should be used to hillwalking, but walking with a daypack makes the route much more accessible compared to carrying a full pack.
Tickets for travel by coach between Oslo or Oslo airport and the start/end points of the tour are also included.
The Besseggen Ridge is one of Norway's most famous hikes and offers unparalleled views. Photo: MON.
Every day is different
Distances covered are between 9km and 20km per day, with height gains between 570m and 1100m. You begin at the cabins at Gjendesheim ending at Fondsbu.
The tour offers varied scenery with a different feel each day:
- Along the famous Besseggen Ridge with its precipitous views between Gjendesheim and Memurubu.
- Glorious plateau walking with views down the enchanting Memurudalen valley and a steep traverse between Memurubu and Gjendebu.
- The beautiful glacial valley of Svartdalen between Memurubu and Torfinnsbu.
- Scenic hillside walking with lake views between Torfinnsbu and Fondsbu.
Some parts of the trail are steep, but the views are spectacular! Photo: MON.
The cabins all have very much their own character. Full board is included with dinner served each evening at the cabins and with accommodation in two-person rooms (with the exception of the simpler cabins at Torfinnsbu, which has shared multi-person rooms and where you will prepare dinner together).
A trail steeped in history
In addition to wondering at the majesty of the landscape, the tour also has a focus on the cultural heritage of the region. Your tour will take you in part along the old post route - it's a sobering thought to imagine postmen once carrying the mail along the same steep, rocky paths that you will be hiking! There are also colourful characters from both history that you will come to know about:
- Outdoorsman and philosopher Jo Gjende, after whom the lake is named and who you will learn about at Gjendesheim, where his old cabins are located on the lake.
- Farm girl Gjendine, whose songs inspired Norway's most famous composer, Edvard Grieg. Her story you will hear while sitting in her cabin at Gjendebu.
- Norwegian writer Aasmund O. Vinje, who owned the first mountain cabin in Jotunheimen, which you will visit at Eidsbugarden to hear his emotive story.
- It's not only Norwegians who figure prominently in the history of the area - the British pioneered hillwalking and mountaineering in the area in the 1800s. You'll hear the stories of W.C. Slingsby and the writers of famous travelogue "Three in Norway".
Hiking Besseggen and the Jotunheimen National Park is ideal for adults with a love of the mountains looking for a varied and fairly challenging hike with the added dimension of a focus on the culture and history of the Jotunheimen region.
Optional Extensions: Uranostind Glacier Hike and/or King's Road
The tour can be also be extended by adding one or both of the following options. These are done after the main hike. See under "Itinerary" for more information on these options.
- A day's glacier summit hike to the peak of Uranostind with extra night at Fondsbu.
- A self-guided 3-day/2-night extension with two day hikes walking sections of the historical King's Road, based from comfortable cabin with half board and picnic lunch provided (note this add-on is not suitable for solo travellers).
Day 1: Arrival
NB: For this experience, bus tickets for travel from/to Oslo in connection with arrival and departure are included. An e-ticket will be sent to you approx. one month before your travel date.
Bus departs Oslo central bus station 13.05 (based on 2019 timetables - times for 2020 TBC shortly). If flying to Oslo that morning, allow good time between connections to travel from Oslo Gardermoen airport (OSL) into the city (around 20 mins by train). Journey time to Gjendesheim approx. 4 hours.
The bus from Oslo takes you into a tantalising mountain landscape before arriving at the cabins at Gjendesheim.
The cabins at Gjendesheim have been popular with Norwegian hikers for 140 years, and justifiably so. The lakeside setting with the Besseggen Ridge rising behind provides a wonderful starting point for the tour.
In the evening, you will meet your host at the cabins together with your guide for the hike and have an introduction to the coming week, including some of the fascinating history of this area and tales of legendary local, Jo Gjende, after whom the cabins are named.
Day 2: Gjendesheim to Memurubu along Besseggen Ridge
Today you will be doing what is widely regarded as one of Norway's most spectacular day hikes. You climb from Gjendesheim up to the Besseggen Ridge, with spectacular views over Gjende Alps and Lake Gjende, before descending towards the cabins at Memurubu.
NB: Some parts of the ridge are narrow with steep drops on either side - please take care on this section, especially in wet or slippery conditions. The steepest/narrowest sections are slightly easier if hiked in the opposite direction (for tours Fondsbu-Gjendesheim). In very bad weather, an alternative trail running along the shore of Lake Gjende is possible.
Distance: 13.1km; Ascent: 1100m.
Day 3: Memurubu to Gjendebu along Bukkelagret Ridge
Another gloriously scenic day in the mountains offering dramatic views, including a lovely lake which makes a good lunch stop. From the ridge, you can look down along Memurudalen, which is a beautiful valley landscape.
You drop down to end your day's hike at the atmospheric cabins at Gjendebu.
The last part of the hike, traversing the hill to descend from the ridge to the lake, is extremely steep. At certain points, chains are set into the hillside to assist you. This section can be challenging, especially if wet/slippery.
In the evening, there is a special storytelling led by your host at the cabins, which takes place in Gjendine's cabin. You'll hear the story of Gjendine and how she inspired music by Norway's most famous composer, Edvard Grieg.
Distance: 9.5km; Ascent: 700m.
Day 4: Optional day hikes or rest day
The cabins at Gjendebu are beautiful located and this point offers an ideal place to spend two nights in the same bed!
If you're feeling energetic, there are many options for wonderful day hikes from here, such as up to the Gjendetunga viewpoint. Alternatively, if your legs feel they could do with some time off, the cabins offer a relaxed and pleasant setting to simply take it easy for the day. The brave might even like a swim in the (very cold) lake!
Day 5: Gjendebu to Torfinnsbu
Today is a relatively long day in terms of distance, but less challenging in terms of height gain. You begin with a steep climb from the cabins up to the wide and beautiful glacial valley of Svartdalen.
The route takes you along the valley floor before dropping steadily down to the cabins at Torfinnsbu.
Torfinnsbu offers the simplest standard but one of the most atmospheric nights on the tour - traditional hiking cabins with no electricity, beautifully located by the lake. You will prepare dinner all together this night using the simple cooking facilities at the cabins. Sleeping accommodation this night is in multi-person rooms rather than the 2-person rooms at other accommodation.
Distance: 14.2km; Ascent: 570m.
Day 6: Torfinnsbu to Fondsbu
Your last hiking day of hiking is also a fairly long day, along Lake Bygdin via the Langedalen vallery - but by now you will be well-used to days in the mountains!
Your tour ends at the lakeside settlement of Eidsbugarden, where you will stay at the Fondsbu cabins.
This evening is a real experience and a wonderful way to end the hike - your charismatic host at the cabins will take you to the preserved traditional Vinje cabin for emotive tales of the cabin's owner, a famous Norwegian writer with a fascinating life story.
Distance: 20.5km; Ascent: 700m.
Day 7: Departure
You depart today by bus (included) to Oslo or Oslo Airport, journey time approx. 4 hours.
Bus times for 2020 are TBC shortly but are expected to be the same as for 2019, that is:
- If departing on Day 7 or adding the Uranostind hike or extra night only: boat from Fondsbu 11.30 to Bygdin then bus, on Sundays departing 14.20 arriving Oslo Bus Station 18.50 and on other days departing 15.50 arriving Oslo 20.15.
- If adding the King's Road extension (with or without Uranostind hike): bus from Tyinkrysset departing around 13.00 (time for 2020 TBC) arriving Oslo in the evening. You will need to overnight in Oslo before onward travel.
These options take place after the main tour.
Option 1: Uranostind Glacier Summit Hike (day tour + extra night)
A spectacular guided day hike ascending Uranostind glacier to the summit at 2157m.
You will not need to have brought with you any additional clothing/equipment beyond that necessary for the main hike. Specialist equipment such as crampons and ropes are provided.
Includes an extra night at Fondsbu with dinner and local transfer between Fondsbu and the glacier hike.
NB: This is a demanding hike and will increase the overall level of challenge of the tour, but you are rewarded with stunning views. For tours starting in Fondsbu and therefore doing the glacier hike before the main tour, this may further increase the level of challenge as you will be doing the glacier hike without the "warm-up" of the main tour. On the other hand, it may be that you feel fresher for this challenge than if doing the summit hike after the main tour!
No climbing experience is necessary, but the last part is very narrow and can be more challenging. If any participants are not comfortable with this section, it is possible to wait here without doing the last part to the summit, as you still have wonderful views from this point.
Ascent for Glacier Summit Hike: 1100m.
Option 2: King's Road extension (3 days/2 nights)
A bus transfer is included from Fondsbu (where the main tour ends) to Filefjellstuene (the base for King's Road hikes).
This extension gives the opportunity to hike self-guided in a very different, lower-altitude landscape, along the historic King's Road used by the Vikings to travel between Jotunheimen and Sognefjord.
You will hike on Day 1 (your departure day from Fondsbu) and on Day 2, departing on Day 3.
The hiking is much less challenging than other parts of the tour and provides an easy-going, relaxed start or end to your main tour.
The itinerary features two days of self-guided hiking from fixed base in comfortable cabins at Filefjellstuene, with breakfast and 2-course dinner included and also packed lunch provided for the hikes. The cabins typically have two levels with two rooms on each level.
Each day you will have a briefing at 08.30 on the day's hike before transfer by car to the start point. You will be collected at agreed time at the end point to return to the cabins.
There are 17 different sections of the King's Road you can hike of varying length. Information on the options will be given on arrival and you choose your preference for the day. For example:
- Øye Stavkyrkje – Filefjellstuene: After transfer to the starting point at a beautiful stave church, you walk to Krokasvingen and from there on the original King's Road back to the cabins. A shorter version is also available, starting from Grihamar. Distance: 12.5km; Ascent: 600m.
- Kyrkjestølen - Stiftstøtta – Maristova: Transfer to Kyrkjestølen to walk over Filefjell to Stiftstøtta, from where you can return to Kyrkjestølen or continue to Maristova for transfer back to the cabins from there. Distance: 10.5km; Ascent: 370m.
- Vindhella – Galdane: Transfer to the start point at Borgund stave church and then hike down Vindhella, one of the most famous parts of the King's Road. Continue along a very scenic section by the river to end at Galdane for transfer. Distance: 9km; Ascent: 250m.
- Main Tour:
- Direction Gjendesheim-Fondbsu: TBC for 2021
- Optional Uranostind Glacier Summit Hike (guided day hike + extra night):
- After main tour: TBC for 2021
- Optional King's Road extension (3 days/2 nights):
- After main tour: TBC for 2021 if adding King's Road only, or TBC for 2021 if adding Uranostind Glacier Hike also.
NB: The King's Road extension is not available as an option for solo travellers, as the accommodation does not offer solo occupancy.
Prices are in British Pounds and Euros. If you wish, you are also welcome to make your payment in Norwegian Kronor (NOK) - please contact us for details.
|Main Tour (per person)||GBP TBC||EUR TBC|
|Optional Extras (see description below)|
|Glacier Hike + extra night (per person)||GBP TBC||EUR TBC|
|King's Road extension (2 nights, per person)||GBP TBC||EUR TBC|
|Extra night's accommodation before/after tour (per person)||GBP TBC||EUR TBC|
See under "Itinerary" for more information on these options. A total of minimum 2 persons from the main tour group must choose these options to be confirmed to run.
- Glacier Hike + extra night: Providing a spectacular and adventurous addition to your trip, this is a guided day glacier hike to the stunning peak of Uranostind at 2157m. Price includes summit hike (including lunch and also necessary equipment such as crampons) plus extra night at Fondsbu with dinner and breakfast. This tour is a very challenging day's hike.
- King's Road extension (3 days/2 nights): 2 days of self-guided hiking exploring sections of the historic King's Road from base in 2-person rooms at comfortable, modern cabin with all meals included. The hiking and terrain is much less challenging than the main tour. See under "Itinerary" for details. NB: This option is not available for solo travellers as the accommodation does not offer solo occupancy..
- Extra night's accommodation before or after tour: You can choose to add an extra night at Gjendesheim and/or Fondsbu before and/or after the main tour to do self-guided activities of your own choosing in the local area such as day hikes, cycling or via ferrata. Please contact us for details of activity possibilities. Price based on 2 persons sharing and includes breakfast and dinner. Solo travellers will share room with other same-gender guest.
Uranostind Glacier Hike. Photos: MON
King's Road Extension. Photos (clockwise from top left): 1-3: Sverre HJ | Mevik, 4: Nature Travels, 5-6: Yngve Ask
What's Included »
During the tour you will stay one night in each of the following locations. Where accommodation is in 2-person rooms, solo travellers will share with other same gender guest.
- Gjendesheim. Memurubu, Gjendebu and Fondsbu: 2-person rooms with bunk beds. Shared WC/shower facilities.
- Torfinnsbu: Multi-person rooms with bunk beds (possibly mixed gender depending on group composition). No shower facilities or electricity, dry outside toilets. It is possible to bathe in the lake if feeling brave!
- Bed linen and towel is provided at all cabins.
Clockwise from top left: Gjendesheim, Memurubu, Gjendebu, Torfinnsbu. Photos: Nature Travels
All meals from dinner on arrival to breakfast on departure. Meals at Gjendesheim, Memurubu, Gjendebu and Fondsbu are served and taken communally with other guests at the cabins in the cabin restaurants. For night at Torfinnsbu, provisions are provided to prepare together as a group.
You may wish to bring additional snacks such as chocolate/energy bars for between meals when hiking. Snacks are available to purchase at the overnight accommodation locations (except for Torfinnsbu).
Please provide information on any dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarian) in advance.
- Bus transfer by public bus from Oslo or Oslo Gardermoen (OSL) airport to/from the start/end points of the tour.
- Transfer of luggage (one bag per person) between overnight locations during the hike.
- Local transfers as required for optional glacier summit hike and optional King's Road extension.
Experienced and knowledgeable guide. There is a focus on learning about the history of the area during the tour as well as the rich natural heritage of the mountains.
- Travel: We do not arrange flights or domestic travel, but are happy to advise on suitable connections and assist you with any aspect of planning your journey. See under "Getting There" for general travel information.
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks (available to purchase at the overnight accommodation locations).
Good To Know »
You should have some previous experience of walking in a mountain landscape on uneven terrain and be in good physical condition. Minimum recommended age 16 years.
Transfer of main luggage between accommodation is included, but you will need to carry a daypack with lunch, water and extra clothes. You should be comfortable with the distances and height gain/loss as per itinerary information.
Note that some parts of the trail are very steep, with drops on either side. Participants should not be afraid of heights.
If adding the optional glacier summit hike, this does not require previous climbing experience, but is a challenging day's walk and will add to the overall level of challenge of the tour.
What makes this "Medium-Hard"?
The tour features simple but comfortable accommodation and luggage transfers between overnight locations. There is an optional rest day built in to the itinerary and if necessary it can be possible to take a boat between overnight locations on some days and therefore "skip" that day's hike.
However, the distances covered and height gained/lost on the tour can be challenging. The terrain is steep and paths can be uneven and some parts can be especially challenging in wet or slippery conditions.
Adding the optional glacier summit hike will increase the level of challenge.
The King's Road extension has a lower level of challenge compared to the main tour.
NB: Perception of difficulty is very subjective. What is hard to one person may be easy for another and vice versa, depending on factors including level of fitness, age and previous experience. Weather conditions/temperatures can also dramatically affect the actual level of challenge encountered.
For information on any equipment and/or clothing included as standard for this experience, please see under "What's Included".
A detailed recommended packing list for personal items to bring will be sent with your booking documentation.
NB: We advise you not to buy equipment or clothes for your trip or to incur other non-refundable expenses such as flights until you have received confirmation of your booking from us in writing. Note of course that the most appropriate clothing to use as well as the level of challenge experienced during any outdoor activity may vary significantly depending on factors such as the time of year and the particular weather/temperature conditions during your trip.
Preparing for your trip:
For further reading, we also have a number of general information articles to get you ready for your trip, covering a wide variety of topics from what to do on a city break before/after your tour, advice on packing, eyewear for winter and considerations for female travellers.
For the main tour, there is no minimum number and scheduled tours are guaranteed to run from the first booking.
For the Uranostind Glacier Hike and King's Road add-ons, minimum 2 persons are required. You are welcome to book the Glacier Hike as a solo traveller, but minimum total 2 persons from the group must choose this add-on before the tours are guaranteed. The King's Road extension is not an available option for solo travellers.
Maximum group size for scheduled tours 12 participants.
This experience is ideal for groups and custom dates can be arranged on request - please contact us to discuss your requirements.
This provider has a detailed environmental policy. The tour makes use of public transport connections both by bus and boat and supports sustainable tourism in the area through the use of local accommodation and food.
Getting There »
See below for a summary of travel options. To learn more about how to travel to this experience, please get in touch!
Detailed information on travel will be provided in response to your enquiry. We are happy to advise on suitable connections and assist you with any aspect of planning your journey.
NB: Please ensure that you make a booking with us first and wait for confirmation that your spaces are reserved before making any travel arrangements.
Fly to Oslo for bus (approx. 4 hours, included) to Gjendesheim.