Norway: Hiking, Camping, and Backpacking

(I finally got around to finishing off this trip report…)

In August 2022 Bianca and I traveled to Norway for two weeks of hiking, camping, and backpacking. Instead of flying we drove from Antwerp to Eemshaven on the north coast of The Netherlands and there took an overnight cruise ship to land us in Kristiansand, at the southern tip of Norway. This let us bring our own car pre-packed with all of our gear and camping food ready to go. We lucked out on the weather and had only 1-2 days of rain in what was otherwise reported to be a very rainy summer in Norway. It was an amazing trip, especially coming from being stuck in the flatlands of Belgium…


20/08 – 21/08

  • Cruise from Eemshaven NL to Kristiansand NO
  • Drive N from Kristiansand towards Hardangervidda National Park
  • Road to Lofthus was blocked by landslide, drove around to W side of Sørfjorden and spent night at Eikhamrane Camping


  • Drove N to take ferry from Utne to Kinsarvik, then S to Lofthus to start hike

Hardangervidda National Park: Loftus – Sylfestnuten – Lofthus (~20 km, 1350 m)


  • Very steep hike up past Nosi rock, didn’t really look that much like a nose, but good views
  • Lots of friendly sheep at top of the climb to the plateau, very eager to lick any exposed skin for salt
  • Hiked ~2km along plateau then camped for the night


  • Breakfast, then hiked up Sylfestnuten via animal path and cross country
  • Returned & broke camp, then hiked down to car
  • Watered and showered at Lofthus Camping then drove N towards Nærøyfjord/Bakka
  • Pre-cooked dinner from SPAR in Kinsarvik just before they closed, surprisingly very good and would become go-to quick meal for the next two weeks when we were too tired after long days of hiking to cook a full meal
  • Slept at Tvinde Camping on the way towards Bakka

Bakka / Rimstigen / Nærøyfjord (~7 km, 1080 m)


  • Finished the drive to Bakka in the morning
  • Very steep hike from Nærøyfjord up to Rimstigen, with excellent views back over Nærøyfjord the entire way
  • Then on up further to Skarsvotni lake where we ate a late lunch before heading back down to the fjord
  • Spent a short while walking in Bakka, then drove W to Lunde Camping in Aurland for the night

Prest / Travel Day (~7 km, 550 m)


  • Hiked to the top of Prest, small mountain just outside of town where we had camped the night before
  • Short but steep hike, offering beautiful views over Aurlandsfjord back to the entrance of Nærøyfjord where we had been the previous day
  • Drove N for the afternoon towards Ålesund where we planned to take a city day the next day due to incoming rain
  • Camped for the night 1 hr S of Ålesund at Vartdal Camping, very nice cozy camping location on a small farm
  • Was raining heavy that night so we set up our tent inside the barn which we shared with a rooster and several hens

Ålesund – City Break


  • Picked up some extra freeze-dried backpacking meals at a sporting goods shop in the morning – REAL Turmat – the best backpacking food I have ever eaten, seriously if you can get this stuff in the states you need to try it
  • Had a 2hr reservation at a self-service floating sauna on the bay, spent our two hours going back and forth between steaming hot sauna and jumping in the cold ocean every 15 minutes
  • Super tasty fish-n-chips for lunch at a small out of the way local fast food stand, best I’ve ever had
  • Walked around the city for a few hours taking in the sights and art nouveau architecture
  • Back to Vartdal Camping again to spend another night in the barn with the rooster

Dovrefjell National Park: Kongsvold – Snøhetta – Kongsvold (42 km, 1420 m)

27/08 (Kongsvold – Reinheim)

  • Morning/midday drive from Vartdal to Kongsvold (a small location in the area of Oppdall) just outside the Dovrefjell national park
  • Dovrefjell is known for it’s herds of Musk Ox, re-introduced to Norway here in the 1950s and now thriving (we picked this hike specifically to try and see some of these big fellas)
  • Started hiking mid-late afternoon, got ~8km up trail towards Reinheim hut before dusk fell
  • Saw one small group of 5-6 musk ox from several kilometers away, visible just as a few specs of brown moving around on a far-away snowfield
  • Second musk ox sighting as we looked to set up our camp for the night – we had spotted a very nice flat area towards the side of the valley we were in with a beautiful overlook of the nearby lake, but just as we had finished making our way there and about to drop packs to set up camp we looked up and saw a group of musk ox grazing on the up-slope just 50m away from us! In the dusk light we had not noticed them until we were almost right underneath them and a bit too close for comfort
  • Unfortunately no pics of these oxen as we were too busy carefully moving to the other side of the valley before they decided to introduce themselves
  • Spent the night in a slightly less scenic location, but safely away from any large herbivores

28/08 (Reinheim – Snøhetta – Reinheim)

  • Continued on past Reinheim hut up towards Snøhetta peak (2286m)
  • Hike up to the peak was ~1000m gain from our start that morning, mostly over scree of varying sizes from baseball up to refrigerator
  • Stopped on the top for a lunch of hot noodles and some canned mussels
  • Back down to the area near Reinheim hut where we set up camp for the evening

29/08 (Reinheim – Kongsvold)

  • Hiked out to Kongsvold
  • Spotted one very large lone musk ox and sat by the trail for a while to watch him graze through bushes and field on the other side of a small valley from us
  • Also passed through a herd of horses on the way out that had been left to graze in the area
  • Short drive N to camp for the night at Smegarden Camping, just outside of Oppdal and close to our start the next day

Trollheimen National Park: Trekanten Triangle Route (58 km, 1850 m)

30/08 (Gjevilvasshytta – Trollheimshytta)

  • The mountains in this area are generally a bit shorter than Dovrefjell or Jotunheimen (see next), but with more varied landscapes of valleys and forests in between rather than a full alpine zone
  • This “triangle” hike is apparently help in high regard as a premiere/classic Norwegian trek by the locals and it certainly lived up to that reputation with non-stop amazing scenery for three full days
  • Started in the morning from Gjevilvasshytta hut (accessible by car) out into the wilderness of Trollheimen through a pine and birch forest on up above the trees into the mountain pastures
  • For this longer hike we decided to go a bit lighter and take advantage of the mountain huts offering accommodation instead of carrying our own camping gear as we had for the previous hikes
  • Through a series of mountain passes, alongside high mountain lakes and with amazing views out into the mountain wilderness around us
  • Another lunch of hot noodles to keep us going 🙂
  • Finally descending from the mountains down a knee pounding 600m over just 2km to a lush valley and Trollheimshytta hut
  • This was our first night spent in one of Norway’s mountain huts – this one had the option for full room & board but we opted to pay for just a bed and make our own dinner outside
  • The hut was quite full of people that evening, with a group of ~20-30 teenagers there on some kind of organized school outing the week before fall classes started (they were noisy but luckily were confined to their own rooms in the hut and we shared a room with other regular hikers)

31/08 (Trollheimshytta – Jøldalshytta)

  • This middle leg of the triangle had two options, either a relaxed hike through a narrow river valley or up and over the neighboring mountain
  • We opted for the relaxed river valley hike to recover from the more difficult hike the previous day and the effect of 5 days backpacking without any rest days – and to enjoy some different scenery
  • Nicely varied scenery along the river valley, from lush dense forest to open pasture
  • Got our first good look at a reindeer that afternoon when we saw one grazing by itself across a pasture with very little concern for us as we stopped to watch for some time
  • Arrived at Jøldalshytta hut mid-afternoon to find it very quiet with only a few other hikers there, though the peace was shattered that evening as another group of teenagers arrived for the night on their school outing (though we were lucky to get a room to ourselves this time and had a very restful night)

01/09 (Jøldalshytta – Gjevilvasshytta)

  • Third and final leg of the triangle back to our starting point at Gjevilvasshytta hut
  • Hiked over smaller mountains and mostly alpine pasture, passing back into the pine/birch forest towards the end
  • Caught sight of one small group of reindeer just as they were running away down the valley and out of view from us
  • After finishing the hike we drove S towards Jotunheimen national park in preparation of our last hike starting next morning
  • Camped at Jotunheimen Caravan Camp

Jotunheimen National Park: Besseggen Ridge (Gjendesheim -> Gjendebu, 25 km, 1620 m)

02/09 (Gjendesheim – Memurubu)

  • Jotunheimen is home to the tallest mountains in Norway, and Besseggen Ridge is one of the most famous and well known hikes in the park due to the extremely scenic namesake ridge offering stunning views as it splits the steep divide between Gjende and Bessvatnet lakes
  • The majority of people complete this hike by taking a boat in the morning halfway down lake Gjende from Gjendesheim to Memurubu and then hiking back to Gjendesheim, going up Besseggen ridge in the process
  • We opted for the opposite direction and were pleased with this choice as we got to do all of the hard elevation gain at the beginning over less scenic terrain and then enjoy a scramble down Besseggen ridge while looking out over the amazing view instead of facing in towards the rocks the entire way up
  • The ridge itself was steep but not too difficult, with a few meters of barely class III in a couple spots
  • We did spot a trail of blood splotches on the rocks at one point, hopefully it was just a nosebleed…
  • After descending the ridge the trail continued over smaller mountains always staying alongside lake Gjende until finally descending to Memurubu hut at its shore
  • Spent the night at the hut and were again lucky to have an entire room to ourselves

03/09 (Memurubu – Gjendebu)

  • Ate breakfast at the buffet in Memurubu Hut because we had run out of stove fuel the previous night…
  • This was the only meal we ate at any of the huts but it was absolutely worth it – with lots of hot food bacon, eggs, toast, ham, sausages etc., cereals, fruits, breads, oats, etc.
  • With full stomachs we headed up from the hut back into the mountains to continue hiking along ridges parallel to the lake
  • Towards the middle of the day we were crossing a high plateau when we spotted a few reindeer, at first, making their way over the far ridge from us and headed in our direction
  • That quickly turned into an entire herd of reindeer headed straight down the path towards us! We just held still a few meters off the path and watch the herd of ~50-60 animals split into several small groups as they passed us on either side with the closest coming within 5-10m of us
  • In the afternoon we descended back down to the level of the lake at Gjendebu hut, where we had a very short swim in the very cold lake before catching a boat ride back up the lake to our starting location of Gjendesheim from the day before, and now the end of our Norway vacation, a long drive south, and a cruise back home

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