I did it!
Trolltunga or the Troll’s tongue is one of Norway’s most epic rock formations, a narrow cliff sticking out of the rock face above a gorgeous lake, but you can only reach it via a gruelling hike, which is, of course, part of the attraction. The Troll’s tongue is located about 1100 meters above sea level and the whole hike is a round journey of 20 kilometres, so since I’m not much of a hiker, I was particularly proud of myself for successfully tackling this challenge in the summer of 2019.
The trail to Trolltunga starts in the small village of Odda, from where you can drive up or take a shuttle to parking lots 2 (Skjeggedal) and 3 (Mågelitopp). There’s a huge difference between both parking lots as a starting point, as P2 means a hike of 28 kilometres with an ascent of about 800 meters, while P3 means 20 kilometres with an ascent of 320 meters. Also, although the actual trail to Trolltunga will take you through an unbelievably beautiful landscape, the path between P2 and P3 is just a boring serpentine asphalt road winding up the hill, full of cars and hikers, so it’s not much of an experience. However, the road between P2 and P3 is a private toll road, so not all shuttles and buses go up there and they have a funny schedule, but you can also book a taxi, which will be more expensive. Where ever you decide to start, keep in mind that there’s a limited number of parking spaces and shuttles per day, so the early ones are normally fully booked for days in advance during the summer (you will definitely want to start early for such a long hike).
Since I wanted to make it as easy on myself as possible, I stayed at the Trolltunga guesthouse, a hostel and apartment house in Tyssedal close to Odda, because they have their own shuttle for guests, which goes up to P3 and starts earlier than the regular shuttles. You can find information about all the regular shuttles here, but it would be best to email the guesthouse about their current options. When I was there, the first shuttle was at 5 am and cost 50 € in one direction, which was relatively reasonable: a regular shuttle should cost you about 25-40 €, while a taxi would cost between 80-100€. There is no entrance fee for the hike itself though.
As I mentioned I’m not a very experienced hiker and I was doing the hike by myself, so I tried to take every precaution possible. I had proper hiking boots, a wind stopper jacket and additional warm clothes in my backpack with lots of water, food, a basic first aid kit and a headlamp. Even though I was going up in the middle of August, I also packed gloves, a cap and a scarf, because Norway can be quite cold and windy higher up even in the middle of summer. Now, if you are not much of a hiker like me, I’d only recommend doing this hike on your own if you’re aware of your limitations and not overconfident, because even though I’m normally fit and plenty stubborn, my legs were turning to jelly on the way down and it was getting a bit hard to navigate the terrain. So, only do it if you’ll force yourself to do it slowly and safely at your own pace and won’t try to compete with other more experienced hikers, because it is a long hike and it adds up. Note my “I did it!” face at the top below.
Officially, Trolltunga is classified as an expert hike due to its length, but I will tell you honestly that I found it quite doable even as a hiking idiot and thought that the official warnings might be exaggerating it a bit. However, I did start from P3 and saved myself the first ascent and I was plenty tired as it was, so don’t underestimate it! In general, starting from P2 should take you between 10 – 12 hours and starting from P3 between 7 – 10 hours and they recommend starting before 8 am to make sure you can get back before dark.
Since I was overly cautious, I took the 5 am shuttle, which means we reached P3 at 5:55 am and started up the track in the early grey light of dawn. The first part of the hike is also the worst, as you’ll soon reach a very steep, almost vertical rock face with too large steps carved into it that are not small people friendly. At some point the stairs will end and you’ll think that’s it, but you’ll also have to scramble up another steep part with no stairs and random trickling water. I think it took me an hour to do that single kilometre uphill and I had to take lots of breaks, literally every couple of steps, but I made it just as the sun was coming up through the clouds.
Once you’re on the top of this Gryteskaret pass, it’s relatively easy – lots of up and down, but nothing too drastic, with gorgeous views along the way. However, good hiking boots are a must, because there’s lost of slippery rocks, mud, marsh and water puddles on the ground. Also, there’s a nice welcoming sign with a troll at the end, but it’s a trick, because the actual Trolltunga is about a kilometre after it. Once there, you’ll want to explore around and enjoy the beautiful view, but you’ll also need to wait in line if you want to get your iconic photo taken. Luckily, I was early enough that the line wasn’t too bad and I asked a fellow hiker from the hostel to take mine, but towards noon the line became very long indeed. Also, the weather changes very fast up there, as you can see from our photos that were taken about 20 minutes apart.
All in all, it took me 3 hours and 15 minutes to reach Trolltunga, then a 2 hour break at the top and another 3 hours and 40 minutes down to P3, then another hour down to P2, which was about 10 hours altogether. From there I took a bus back to Tyssedal. You can find a more detailed description of the trail here and some more of my photos in the gallery below.
The hike to Trolltunga
There are 2 emergency shelters on the way to Trolltunga and during the hiking season (1st of June – 31st of August) there are mountain guards present at both. The trail is very well marked with red Ts and easy to find + there will be a lot of hikers around, so you surely won’t get lost. However, only guided hikes are recommended outside of the official hiking season and personally I wouldn’t tempt fate unless you’re an experienced hiker. Also, there are no toilets of places to buy food or water, but you can find drinking water along the track sometimes and you can also camp up there at the designated spots. It’s on my bucket list now, so I’ll have to do the hike allover again, but if you do camp, make sure you leave only footprints behind and bring all your trash back down with you.
So, what do you think? Would you hike to Trolltunga? If you’d prefer something easier, there’s always Preikestolen, which I did as well, or if you want to go hardcore, you could go to Trolltunga via a ferrata or try the hike to Kjeragbolten, another amazing rock formation, which I was afraid to hike to by myself, because it’s a bit more demanding.
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