If you are in Norway, you must make time and make your way to Preikestolen also known as Pulpit Rock. It is one of Norway’s most famous tourist draws, attracting over 250,000 visitors every year. This remarkable rock formation with a flat plateau of 25m x 25m, towers 604 metres over the Lysefjord in Ryfylke near Stavanger.
I started my journey to Preikestolen from Bergen where I spent 3 amazing days (will be posting on it later). There was no direct train from Bergen to Stavanger and I had to change train at Drammen. Bear with me as there is something interesting I wish to tell you about my train ride. At Bergen train station, I bade my gorgeous French dorm-mate goodbye and went towards my platform to board my 3.59 pm train. Shortly after I found my seat, there was an announcement – the train will be delayed for an hour. That was not so comfortable news as I had one hour and 9 minutes to change train at Drammen for my train to Stavanger. I quickly spoke to the train officer and he assured me that I will catch my connecting train. An hour passed and the train was still not moving and I was getting really anxious by then. At the rate things were going, there was no way I would be able to make that connection! The train finally departed 30 minutes later and I spoke to the officer again. He reassured me that he knew about my case and they were working on it. Oh.. by the way, I was the only passenger making that connection. I dozed off and was awakened by someone gently shaking my shoulder. “Get your stuff quickly as your connecting train is waiting for you”, the officer spoke in a quiet tone. It was almost 1 am and the officer led me (we kinda ran) over some tracks and a long train was waiting for me. I was quickly ushered into a front seat and it was dark as most of the passengers were sleeping. I later found out that the train was waiting for me for half an hour! But I didn’t know which station the train stopped for me to make the transfer… but it was definitely not Drammen. Surprisingly, I reached Stavanger only 10 minutes later than my original time of arrival. Kudos to NBS for their excellent service – they really went out of their way to make sure that I did not miss the connecting train !
HOW TO GET TO PREIKESTOLEN FROM STAVANGER
To get to Preiskestolen from Stavanger, you need to take a ferry to Tau and followed by a bus ride to Preikestolen Fjellstue (Preikestolen Moutain Lodge). From wherever you are in Stavanger, you need to go to the Fiskepiren Ferry Terminal to catch a ferry. After storing my big backpack in the luggage locker, I took Bus No. 1 from the train station, which took less than 10 minutes to reach.
There were two companies that offered a combination of ferry and bus to Preikestolen from Stavanger which were Tide Reiser and Boreal. I went with Tide Reiser and bought my combination tickets directly on board the ferry, which was very convenient. The round trip ticket for both ferry and bus cost 250 Norwegian kroner. You may also buy the bus ticket at the tourist information office in Stavanger. With Boreal, you will have to buy the ferry ticket on the ferry (round trip is 98 kroners), and the bus ticket on the bus with cash only (round trip was 160 kroners).
Important Note : These services are not available whole year round. Tide Reiser offers this trip between 3 April and 30 September whereas Boreal is between 2 April to 30 September.
The above timetable for Tide Reiser will tell you that the ferry ride takes 40 minutes. In the ferry, there was a cafe serving coffee and light snacks. I spent most of my time on the deck enjoying the scenery even though the looming dark clouds had me worried a little.
Upon arrival at the Tau terminal, there were buses waiting to send the passengers to the Preikestolen Mountain Lodge. Here, your tickets will be checked and the bus ride will take about 25 minutes and the bus will drop passengers off at the parking lot. Together with your ticket, you will be given the schedules so that you can decide what time you should leave for the return trip to Stavanger.
WHAT YOU MUST KNOW BEFORE THE CLIMB
1) What is Preikestolen?
Preikestolen was most likely formed with the melting frost 10,000 years ago, just after the Lysefjord glacier melted. This flat mountain plateau protrudes approximately 30 m from the mountain side and gives you an amazing view over the fjords and the mountains. (Information taken from the above signboard located near the parking lot.) Preikestolen, also known as Pulpit Rock, is a mountain plateau that hangs 604 meters above sea level and the Lysefjord.
2) What to wear?
Wearing layers of clothes is one of the best way to go, depending on the season. Or at least have a jacket to keep you warm just in case there is a change in weather. When I was on the ferry, it drizzled slightly and when I began my climb, the sun started playing peek-a-boo with me up my ascent to Preikestolen. Overall, the weather was mild and I just needed a long fleece t-shirt. Sturdy footwear is imperative as you will be clambering over rocks and certain paths are slippery.
3) What to bring?
By simple mathematical deduction, you would be walking for around 4 hours as the walk is about 2 hours each way. You will need food and water as there is no cafe at the end of the walk. I brought sandwiches, a hot flask of coffee (a must for me), a bottle of mineral water and some snacks. Just bring enough as you will not wish to be burdened by necessary weight while navigating through the rocks. A small backpack to store all your stuff is advisable as you will need your hands free to hold on to something to help you to climb easier.
Before you embark on your adventurous climb, do stop by the signboard to take a picture of yourself before the 4 km trek up to Pulpit Rock.
You must be moderately physically fit to do this climb. For me, it was an easy climb as I had done much tougher ones than this and I took 3 hours all in for this climb. But for those who are not used to climbing or walking uphill, certain sections of the climb will leave them breathless.
If you do need a breather, stop to take some photographs of the stunning scenery. There are places designated for a short break whereby you can sit down to have some snacks and drinks.
If you are terrible at directions, do not worry about getting lost. The trails are very obvious and you just need to follow the pack in front of you. Everyone is heading for one destination only. The trails are also marked with red paints on the rocks.
There are several signboards along the way showing the current location you are standing on. This signboard is telling you that you are in for a steep walk about 500 km ahead.
This part of the climb does look dangerous and tough but it’s do-able if you take your time to place your feet properly and slowly make your way up. In my opinion, this stretch is the most difficult going up and coming down as well. Walking sticks are of no use here because you will need your hands to position and support yourself. At times, I even went down on all fours to get over the bigger rocks.
Thank God the weather took a turn for the better and I knew I was almost there when I caught a glimpse of the fjord reaching out towards the mountains. There are two routes to approach the Pulpit Rock. Route 1 is on your left around a bend and onwards uphill. This way will bring you level with the top of the rock which means that you will be standing on the jutted rock itself. Route 2 is walking straight, make a right where you will have to walk upwards on a slight incline. This way will bring you above the Pulpit Rock for an overhead view. The best way to do it is to go straight up by Route 2 and later come down to take a memorable photo of you sitting at the edge of the iconic jutted rock … Cool! [ Tip : Still photographs cannot capture chattering teeth or legs trembling with fear! … hehehe ]
You have reached your destination when you hear exclamations of appreciation and awe all around you. It was indeed breathtaking and I made some new friends from Hong Kong and they were kind enough to take some photographs for me. This was the time and place for me to take out my prepacked sandwiches and my hot flask of coffee. With such a view in front of me, I had the most wonderful lunch on a famous mountain plateau facing a gorgeous canvas of fjords and mountains. Aaaah … what more could a girl ask for, eh? …… Umm.. well, maybe the presence of my husband beside me, to share this special moment with …
Reluctantly, after an hour, I tore my eyes away from the spectacular view and began my descent. As I was concentrating so much on getting to the Pulpit Rock as fast as I could, on the return leg, I went down in a more relaxed manner. I began to notice beautiful lakes framed by trees and mountains. A Danish couple and I started to walk together and it was nice exchanging “oohs” and “aahs” at the sight of the beautiful landscapes.
WHEN TO GO
The main season, whereby transportation is most convenient for those who are travelling independently, is between April to September. The rest of the months will be considered low season and weather can be pretty erratic. The trail may be slippery and it gets dark quickly. If you have to travel during the low season, it is advisable to check on the weather conditions.
There are many ways to visit the Pulpit Rock. You can join a tour, rent a car or even take a helicopter ride to see it from way above. Whichever way you choose, you will not regret walking up the stony trail to see for yourself the magnificent view. I don’t think any photographs can do it justice.