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Latest news November 2019
Our 2020 dates and prices are up! Availability is great at this early point. Please ask us about a trip - thank you.
After two years of planning and a few more of dreaming, we are delighted to have expanded the Exploratory system into Norway.
Norway is truly a superb country for trekking and the Jotunheim is a real gem among the nation's national parks. We look forward to sharing it with our clients!
The Jotunheimen is arguably the finest of the national parks, certainly the most popular for walkers: dense with high plateaus, imposing peaks, and deep valleys running with streams, rivers and waterfalls. Glaciers, barren sweeping valleys, flourishing meadows, and Nordic forests can all be traversed in a single day.
Founded in the 1960s, the national parks were Norway's means of protecting its natural beauty and unique flora and fauna from encroaching industrialisation. You'll find little sign of human life other than the huts and the paths. This paired with a lack of mobile phone reception means you'll likely find the walking in Norway free from the noise and stress of modern life!
The Norwegian approach is orderly with a time-honoured reverence to preserving their natural spaces and maintaining the parks for the next generation. As the snow melts, Norwegian families return year after year to the walk in the parks. As you'll experience, trekking and the outdoors form an absolute part of the Norwegian cultural soul. Trekkers in Norway will meet Norwegian walkers of all ages; meeting three generations together is common. With so few foreign walkers it's easy to feel warmly adopted into this lifestyle.
The hut system is possibly our favourite of any nation's and typifies the Norwegian experience. A stay in one is a glimpse into the small things which form the culture. For example, in hot or cold it is expected that you will be trekking with a thermos flask, as is the Norwegian way. Thus in the evening guests line up their flasks, labeled with name and hot beverage of choice and miraculously come breakfast they are full and ready to provide sustenance for a day on the hills. Food in the huts is chiefly Norwegian, with all that can be grown in Norway if not the local region. Hearty mountain food is found for dinner as you might expect!
Meals are taken at communal tables and give an excellent opportunity to dine and chat with local trekkers. English is widely spoken. You'll have to tear yourself away to bed early or risk a spirited night of beer and cards.
We hope you'll enjoy the cultural experience and sense of fellowship between all walkers, Norwegian and otherwise, that is formed through the shared common experience in the hills.
The start and end points of our trek are easily reached from the cities of Bergen and Oslo. Our notes contain all the details to make the journey with confidence by bus or train. To give a hint, it's about 5 hours by coach from Oslo, and between 5 and 7 hours by coach from Bergen. The buses and trains will often be busy with residents escaping the city on their way to adventure in the mountains.
Both Oslo and Bergen make superb stops before or after the trek. Do ask us for any options and advice.
JHTsg Jotunheimen Tour (Self-guided)
19 July to 29 August 2020
Prices in GBP
Groups of 2+
Our main JHT
We take 6 stages for our all-round trek in the Jotunheimen. Shorter trips cover part of the route (like our 4-stage trek starting at Spiterstulen) while longer trips give an extra portion of the national park to the West (our 8-stage trip with even rockier terrain).
Here is our normal schedule of 6 stages.
Arrival day: Arrival at Gjendesheim
The long-distance bus calls at Gjendesheim, the largest hut in the DNT network and one of the main ways into the Jotunheimen national park. This is a large hut, more like a hostel, beside the road and Lake Gjende.
Stage 1: Gjendesheim to Glitterheim
Red3 grade, 21km with 950m ascent, 565m descent
From Gjendesheim it's a stiff ascent north, away from the lake, crossing moorland before following the sandy shore of Lake Russvatnet. As you reach the high pass of the day the ground becomes increasingly rocky with snow patches likely. The Glitterheim hut can be seen on the descent over boulderfields.
Stage 2: Glitterheim to Spiterstulen
Black3 grade, 15.5km with 1100m ascent, 1380m descent
Today is an exciting ascent of Glittertind's snowy summit. Ascend from the Glitterheim hut to meet the snowline and climb gradually to the flat summit. The descent to Spiterstulen is long, rocky and in places very steep. (We give an alternative via the Veslglupen lakes which makes the day a Red grade.)
Stage 3: Spiterstulen to Leirvassbu
Red3 grade, 15km with 425m ascent, 75m descent
Enjoy a less challenging day after yesterday�s endeavour! The path follows the wide valley, ascending gradually and surrounded by walls of glacier-formed peaks. Eventually pass beside a string of small lakes and under the sharp peak Kyrkja before arriving at the Leirvassbu hut.
Stage 4: Leirvassbu to Gjendebu
Red3 grade, 18km with 250m ascent, 650m descent
A short, stiff climb leads to the Hogvaglen pass and the revelation of the long valley ahead. Pass the turning to Olavsbu and an isolated hut on a promontory in the lake. Before the final valley descent to Gjendebu, at the head of its lake, we drop beside the huge waterfalls Hellerfossen.
Stage 5: Gjendebu to Memurubu
Black3 grade, 10km with 580m ascent, 575m descent
Steep rocky paths guard a plateau at either end, especially steep on the way up from the shore of lake Gjende. This is the well-known Bukkelaegret, helped by chains. The middle section of the day gives high and wild views to the North. Arrive at Memurubu in a grassy setting by the shore. (An alternative path misses the ascent of the Bukkelaegret and makes the day a Red grade.)
Stage 6: Memurubu to Gjendesheim
Black3 grade, 14km with 1100m ascent, 1100m descent
On the last day we take in the famous Besseggen ridge. After a stiff ascent away from the Gjende lake, the path continues over rocky ground with dramatic views over the lake. The rocky path comes to the foot of the Besseggen ridge in its spectacular location. On the ridge some use of the hands is needed, but the steps are solid. The long, occasionally steep, descent to the Gjendesheim hut is a great finish to the trek. We take the local bus to Otta, for a hotel and to be on the Oslo train line. (A lakeside alternative keeps the day at Red grade but misses all of the spectacular high ground.)
Hotel in Otta
Departure day: Departure from Otta
Departure from Otta after a superb Norwegian breakfast. There are well-timed trains to Oslo via Oslo Lufthavn. Or, press North within Norway - we would love to advise.
Our 8-stage trek splits off at Leirvassbu for the following 3 stages, in place of Stage 4 (Leirvassbu to Gjendebu) above. Then rejoin the schedule above at Gjendebu.
Leirvassbu to Skogadalsboen
Red3 grade, 18.5km with 80m ascent, 670m descent
This is a gorgeous walk though the Gravdalen valley following a lush network of waterways. Then turning South, the path traverses the side of the Utla valley through birch trees, gaining height as the valley drops below and views open up. The Skogadalsboen is a full-serivce hut but with the feel of being cut off from the world.
Skogadalsboen to Eidsbugarden
Black4 grade, 23.5km with 860m ascent, 630m descent
Perhaps our toughest but most captivating day in the Jotunheimen, consistently rocky, bouldery and pathless underfoot and all but requiring clear weather. Ascend from the valley onto a barren high plateau where a rocky valley leads to the beautiful pair of mountain lakes: Urdalsvatnet and Kvitevatnet. At the far side, descend down the course of the valley to Eidsbugarden at the head of lake Bygdin, with the superbly run Fondsbu hut.
Eidsbugarden to Gjendebu
Red3 grade, 15km with 400m ascent, 450m descent
A fine all-round day in the Jotunheimen, the paths are solid and reliable and the miles can be racked up quickly. The path follows lake Bygdin before cutting uphill, crossing a plateau with distant views and then following the wide, rocky valley to Gjendebu.
On any of our treks, please add a night at Spiterstulen in order to climb Galdhopiggen (2,469m) which is Norway's highest mountain. Or, make the ascent instead of Stage 4 to Leirvassbu, then take two buses via Lom to reach Leirvassbu that evening.
Galdhopiggen ascent from Spiterstulen
Black4 grade, 12km with 1440m ascent, 1440m descent
This optional day's walk is an out-and-back ascent from Spiterstulen. It is a popular path and an achievable summit for strong walkers. It crosses extensive snow patches near the summit, even in high summer. These are marked by twigs. Depending on conditions, there could be snow-covered ridges and boulders too. The summit view is exceptional, of snow-filled corries with turquoise tarns. A small manned hut at the summit serves coffee, snacks and souvenirs. Galdhopiggen (2,469m) is something of a pilgrimage for Norwegians and you will see many more walkers coming from the Juvashytta glacier route to the North, the two routes meeting at the summit.
Our usual schedule of accommodation might not be available, especially if there is not much time between booking and your trip. We book accommodation as closely as possible to this itinerary and present a schedule for you to check before we proceed.
Although baggage transfer isn't available on this hut-based trip, it's no problem to leave your baggage at the Gjendesheim hut while you trek. There is one possibility of luggage, using the ferry along lake Gjende. This can be organised on the ground and we give details in the info pack.
We can adjust your Jotunheimen Tour in various ways, as follows:
Flexible tour lengths
The tour works well with shorter or longer itineraries; just let us know how long you have and we can suggest.
As normal we'll book your final night in a local hotel in Otta. If you prefer to stay in a hut on the last night that's also no problem.
If you'd like to stay in fewer dorms, please let us know. We can usually book private rooms in most of your huts. Unfortunately because of the way the huts operate, it's not possible to book private rooms in the huts for solo travellers.
Your trip comes with a year's membership of the DNT, Den Norske Turistforening, the Norwegian trekking and travel association.
The DNT has been running since the late 1800s and is responsible for Norway's national parks, the network of 500 mountain huts, plus tourist information offices in Norwegian towns. You'll quickly get used to seeing their red T waymarks.
Membership gives lower prices in some huts, which we have factored into the cost of our Norway trips, and also gives you direct benefits like discounts in DNT shops and some others.
We are delighted that our trekkers become bona fide DNT members like so many Norwegian trekkers, thus supporting the maintenance of the national parks.
In the run-up to your trip we will ask the date of birth of everyone in your group, as it's required for the DNT membership, and also a phone number to which your membership number can be texted. You can then use the DNT app on your Android or iPhone to show your membership to hut wardens and others.
Our approach to the Jotunheimen
We make a circular tour of the Jotunheimen national park in just under a week, in order to see as much of the park as possible while linking catered huts in solid days of walking. We offer alternative routes on some stages, to reduce the difficulty or in case of bad weather.
The terrain encountered will vary greatly. Days are generally a combination of good paths, and rockfields where progress is slower and care must be taken. On these sections the path is less well defined but cairns mark the way, generally visible on the horizon for navigation in poor visibility. Small streams are quite common and mostly easily crossed. Throughout summer there is a good chance of snow patches lying on the higher paths, but the lower paths are likely to be snow-free. There are short sections of scrambling where hands will be needed for stability. These sections are within the realm of normal mountain walking and are not via ferrata.
How to get there
Your holiday starts at the roadside mountain hut Gjendesheim and ends in the small town Otta. The most convenient airport is Oslo with Bergen also feasible. Travel to Gjendesheim is on the excellent Norwegian bus network and from Otta the train goes quickly to Oslo.
Travel to and from the trip is not included in the holiday price. We take care to give the most useful notes possible about all the travel options. We supply these both on booking and in your info pack, and we offer personalised tips at any point. The aim is that our trekkers arrange their travel by the simplest and most scenic means as suits their plan.
Key information Summer 2020
Trip name: Jotunheimen Tour
Prices Summer 2020
6 stages, per person:
Research Summer 2020
The flag flies above Gjendebu (Photo gallery)
Alpine Exploratory's service
The Jotunheimen in Norway
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