A trip to Norway is incomplete without at least one hike in its beautiful mountains for stunning views of the fjords and the surrounding countryside. We wanted to do one too and while planning for the trip did a quick research on some of the famous treks enroute our driving route in southern Norway. From Stavanger we came across two popular hiking points – Preikestolen / Pulpit Rock and the Kjeragbolten. Since we were not sure of the difficulty and fitness levels required (we do hike but are not regular hikers nor very fitness conscious), we decided to go for the shorter and slightly easier one of the two i.e. the pulpit rock.
We decided to start early in the morning and drive to the Pulpit rock. There are two driving routes from Stavanger – you can either drive to Lauvvik on Rv13, cross by the ferry to Oanes and continue along Rv13 (tourist route Ryfylke) and follow the signs. The other option is to cross by ferry from Stavanger to Tau, continue south on Rv13 and follow the signs to Preikestolen. We decided to take the ferry at Oanes – as the ferry ride here was shorter (and cheaper) and the route was along the beautiful tourist route of Ryfylke.
The drive, as we had come to expect by now, was stunning but here the landscape was different from what we had seen earlier. This ride was particularly special because for the first time ever (in our life!) we drove our car on a ferry and the ferry transported us and our car from one side to the other. The views on both side of the fjords were stunning and the drive around Ryfylke resembled a perfect picture postcard. We also missed a road sign and ended up in such a scenic spot on the tourist route of Ryfylke that we even thought of ditching the hike and just spending the day there. But then good sense prevailed and we decided to return after the hike (depending on how tired we are by then).
We reached the base by 8am and started the hike up for Preikestolen. The hike starts on level ground but ascends steeply and after only a short distance we were huffing and puffing and wondering why were we are doing this to ourselves.
The hike had some really steep inclines and we had to climb up over rocky boulders but then in parts it would flatten out with gravel pathways or wooden boardwalks. Gradually we got into our rhythm (between climbing and taking quick breaks) and started enjoying the incredible views around us. There are hills all around, some with waterfalls and beautiful greenery, and these keep encouraging you with a promise of more stunning vistas to come. The entire trail is well-marked with the red ‘T’ marks painted on rocks and its quite easy to follow.
There was one stretch that was particularly steep with a climb over huge boulders just stacked on top of the other. Struggling on this patch we met a couple climbing up with their dog. They started chatting with us and it turned out that he was a pilot had flown for Spicejet. After a quick chatting break with them we commenced the climb up. All along we kept meeting friendly people – some would just say a hi and some on their return journey encouraged us with kind words saying that the views in the end are worth the climb. We also came across some really beautiful and inviting lakes and I am sure people must be taking a quick swimming break here in the summers.
And finally, after nearly 2 hours of climbing, we made it to the Pulpit Rock. Pulpit Rock or the Preacher’s Pulpit or the Preikestolen is a 25 metre by 25 metre mountain plateau that towers 604 metres over the Lysefjord and has phenomenal views over the fjords. It was most likely formed 10,000 years ago with the melting of the Lysefjord glacier.
We sat here for a long time here just enjoying the stunning views around us and savoring the feeling of making it to the top We had driven for 2 days in Norway then and drove a lot after that day, but the views of the Lysefjord from the Pulpit Rock were some of the best views on our trip. There were loads of people all around us either enjoying lunch or taking the customary photographs at the edge. We were quite scared to stand that close to the edge (with the strong winds) and took our pictures safely from a slight distance. We enjoyed a quick lunch here and then started our slow descent back to the base.
This hike was one of the highlights of our travels in Norway and we recommend it to everyone visiting this region.
Tips for the trip –
1. You do not need to book a tour for this hike and it’s very easy to do it entirely DIY.
2. Public transportation is available from Stavanger to the Pulpit Rock and there are options to stay at the base of the Pulpit Rock too.
3. For the hike – wear a good pair of hiking / walking shoes (with a good grip), keep a raincoat and wear warm clothes in layers (as the weather here is quite unpredictable and it can get really cold). We wore hiking shoes, leggings and a regular T-shirt and didn’t carry any fancy hiking gear.
4. With our non- existent fitness levels, we took 4.5 hours to complete the entire hike – we took 2.5 hours for climbing up and 2 hours to climb down. And if we can do this hike pretty much anyone can.
5. Please take plenty of drinking water for the hike and something to eat as there is nothing available on the entire trail. The receptionist at our B&B also told us that in case we ran out of water we can drink it from a stream that passes under some rocks in the first 1/3rd portion of the hike. She said she has had that water many times and it was ok. We did see that stream but we didn’t try it as we had enough water with us.
6. There is no fee to hike the Pulpit Rock but you need to pay for parking your car.