This was by far the best hike I did during my short time in Norway. The Besseggen Ridge lies well far into the interior of the country, possibly why we had great weather on our hike! The hike is 14km long between Gjendesheim and Memurubu. You can hike the ridge first and get the ferry back, or ferry first and hike back along the ridge. We opted for the latter. The elevation gain is 1,100m with the highest point just after you climb the ridge at Veslefjellet, at 1743m above sea level.
Here is a short film about the hike:
The route is worn and signposted, so unless it is covered in snow, you will find it hard to get lost. Sun hats and sun cream are essential as there is NO shade on the trail. If the wind is up then the ridge is well exposed so take the appropriate clothing. It’s worth taking a photo of the map before you go. The route is also marked on the maps.me offline maps app. There are also a couple of alternate lower level routes as you can seen in the image below.
Ferry and Parking
The ferry from Gjendesheim to Memurubu is bookable online so you can skip the queues at the ticket kiosk. We bought our ticket the same day at the kiosk in peak season, but it was covid times so can’t say how busy it actually gets. Tickets this year (2023) cost kr 220.00 per adult, kr 110.00 for under 15s, under 5s are free. There is limited free short term parking near the ferry building but this is for up to 2 hours only (ticket still required). The long term car park is located at Reinsvangen just down the road (charges apply) and there is a free shuttle to take you to the ferry. The tourist board recommend leaving 30 minutes between parking and your ferry departure to unpack, take the bus and board the ferry.
When we boarded our ferry, space was limited due to social distancing rules, so we had to sit inside, downstairs. Not the best place for taking photos, but needs must. We disembarked at Memurubu and used the toilet facilities before commencing the hike, last chance! The initial part of the hike was a long climb up hill and got you right up onto the hill top nice and quickly. Pretty soon we were surrounded by views of glaciers, hanging valleys and frosty peaks! There were still the odd patches of snow around but these were easily passable. There were plenty of alpines flowers on the ground and birds of prey in the sky, so plenty to keep you occupied if the great views start to get overwhelming!
About a third the way along the hike there is a large peak on the left. There is a route up here but we decided not to take it as there was still plenty of snow on the top. Trying to find the route down off the top of hill with no path visible and plenty of cliffs can take ages, so we decided to stick to the main route. The path passes by a small lake and then over a rougher section towards the end of another much larger lake. This is where you can take a lower level alternative route to the north if you don’t fancy going up the ridge or the weather conditions have changed. This lower level route is easier going but is unmarked (apparently) and is 4km further. Our weather was amazing so we had our lunch and continued towards the ridge.
As we headed towards the ridge, the path suddenly got closer to edge which overlooked the lake. Suddenly I was confronted with a sheer drop of what must have been 800m! This was an optional terrifying experience though as the path was really wide, so I didn’t HAVE to walk to the edge, it just ended up that way. The ridge then became pretty steep and turned into a sort of scramble. If you suffer from vertigo then I’d recommend some walking poles to keep you steady. No actual climbing is involved, just brave stepping up big rocks.
Once you break out onto the top, the peak broadens out into a baron wasteland, quite different to terrain below. There is a cairn marking the summit and a couple of walled shelters for you if the weather is rough (though these shelters seemed to have been used as toilets by some inconsiderate people out there!). As you then start to head downhill back to Gjendesheim, there are plenty of viewpoints on the right looking back down the lake. The way down is steady, not treacherous and there is a cafe at the ferry building where it all began for your refreshments!
After our hike we spent some time swimming in the lake just along the lakeside path from the ferry terminal, which was marvellous after a long hike! We then went down the route 51 and found a very large free campsite where we relaxed for the rest of the evening.
I’d say for the the general population, this is a medium to hard grade hike, but is easily accomplishable for most people. Just make sure you leave enough time and don’t have anything to do later in the day, and you can just enjoy it at your own pace. Personally, for me is was incredibly enjoyable due to the stunning views and great weather. It was physically demanding but just the right length. I’d definitely recommend it for anyone visiting Norway (far better than Trolltunga from what I’ve heard)!
Camera Equipment for this trip
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For this trip I used the highly portable Olympus EM-5 II, now superceded by the OM-5 Camera. I used the Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens and Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro.
3 thoughts on “Norway Day 5 – Hiking the Besseggen Ridge Trail”
Great tech tips.
Looks amazing! If you ever want something easier, Via Transilvanica in Romania might interest you, it focuses more on long distance walking.
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Sounds good to me! I’ll check it out