The Natural Beauty of Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock Norway

Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock Norway 1
Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock Norway is a magnet for hikers and nature lovers. Photo: James Visser.

By Nicole Anderson

Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock Norway, (Preikestolen in English: “The Pulpit Rock”, “Pulpit” or “Preacher’s Chair”) once visited, is one of those places that you are never likely to forget. To say it is impressive feels like it’s an understatement. Its majestic beauty and that of its surrounding region is hard to compare to anywhere else.

Acknowledged by many as being the most photographed and popular site of natural beauty in Norway, Preikestolen is a steep cliff which rises 604 metres (1,982 ft) above the Lysefjorden. Atop the cliff, there is an almost flat top of approximately 25 by 25 metres (82 ft × 82 ft) and affords beautiful views across Rogaland County and down to the fjord below. This is truly a hiker’s paradise and there is no wonder that tourism numbers here have more than doubled over the past decade.

So, what is the origin of this natural wonder? Well according to Wikipedia:

“The cliff was formed during the ice age, approximately 10,000 years ago, when the edges of the glacier reached the cliff. The water from the glacier froze in the crevices of the mountain and eventually broke off large, angular blocks, which were later carried away with the glacier. This is the cause of the angular shape of the plateau. Along the plateau itself there continues to be a deep crack. Due to these cracks, the plateau will at some point fall down, but all the geological investigations have revealed that this will not happen in the foreseeable future, and geologists have confirmed the safety of the plateau.”

Tom Cruise at Pulpit Rock in MI6

Interestingly, you would also recognise Preikestolen if you are a Mission Impossible fan as it appears quite prominently in the 2018 release of Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

It is the sixth instalment in the Mission: Impossible film series starring (among others) Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Alec Baldwin, Henry Cavill, and Angela Bassett.

 

 

Getting there

Preikestolen is located in the southern part of the Ryfylke district in Rogaland county in Western Norway. The closest major centre is Stavanger, the fourth largest city in Norway and situated some 25 klms (16 mi) from the site.

Travel time to the trailhead of Preikestolen is roughly an hour from Stavanger and can be reached by ferry and car. The ferry travels from Stavanger and takes some 40 minutes to reach the town of Tau where you disembark and drive the remainder of the way to the car park at Preikestolhytta where the path going up to Preikestolen begins.

 

We took the car ferry from Stavanger to Tau and drove to the trailhead from there.

 

Open year-round, this trail can also be done via an organised tour who will look after the logistics of the journey for you and ensure you have a safe hike. This is especially recommended if you are an inexperienced hiker and particularly if you are planning your trip during the winter. There is also the option to start the hike during the night in order to witness a spectacular sunrise but you need to exercise real caution in doing this, particularly ensuring you watch your footing as you ascend.

 

Our journey

My fiancé James and I were extremely fortunate to be under the care and guidance of his older brother, sister in law and one of his nieces that took us on this amazing adventure. Stavanger, Norway happened to be the location of James’ European Family Reunion for 2019 as one of his brothers and also a sister lives there and kindly offered to host the family get-together in Norway.

Tor (James’ older brother), his lovely wife Anne Synnøve and one of their daughters Helene (who did all the driving), James and I set off from Stavanger and caught the car ferry to Tau. The scenery during this 40-minute trip across the bay and heading toward the fjords was just stunning. Norway’s mainland, islands and waterways are simply pristine as you will see in numerous beautiful photos contained within other posts covering our trip through this beautiful country.

From the town of Tau, it was about a 20-minute trip up to the car park that lay at the foot of the hike to Preikestolen. It was indeed a privilege to be hosted by James’ family on this trip as their knowledge of this hike, the site and all related logistics made it very easy for us, aside from the fact that we could explore this famous region in such wonderful company.

 

At the area of the car park, looking up at the start of the trail in very scenic surrounds. Photo: James Visser.

 

The hike

Many people casually state that this hike is easy. However, believe me when I say that there is a certain level of fitness required to undertake this journey. It is not as easy as some people would lead you to think. The fact is that there were many people who turned back without reaching Preikestolen on the day we went and some (like James) that injured himself in the process of completing the hike. More on that later. Needless to say, this is not a hike to be overly confident of, unless you are experienced and/or have a reasonably good level of fitness.

 

Map showing the ascent and distance of this hike. Photo: James Visser.

 

The trail itself doesn’t sound that bad. It is a round trip of roughly 8 klms with a net elevation gain of 500 meters and typically taking between 4-6 hours to complete the round trip. However, the trail climbs and descends various ridges with significant changes in terrain including swampland, forests and quite a few sets of challenging stone stairways built by Nepalese Sherpas.

Depending on the time of the year and the weather, the prevailing conditions can also make the trail considerably more challenging that the beautiful day we were blessed with as we headed up.

Aside from being reasonably physically fit or practised as a hiker in preparation for this trail, you do need to have had a good breakfast for the energy. Carrying a light but durable backpack with plenty of water for hydration and nutritious snacks to keep you going is a must as well as hiking poles if you use them and of course a hat and sunscreen.

 

Heading up

It is a rocky ascent for most of the way and at the places where it is steepest, Nepalese Sherpas laid down large stones to form steps up the trail.

 

The initial ascent started out easy. Photo: James Visser.

 

Here you can see the terrain of the first leg of the hike. Photo: Nicole Anderson.

 

Anne Synnøve and James heading up the trail which was quite narrow in this area. Photo: Nicole Anderson.

 

The first of 4 plateaus of the hike. Photo: Nicole Anderson.

 

Even in the flat areas, you need to watch your footing as Anne Synnøve points out to me here. Photo: James Visser.

 

Enjoying the experience of this amazing hike. Photo: James Visser.

 

While it is true to say that the Nepalese Sherpas did a thorough job of laying stones down on quite a number of very steep paths, the steps created were not at all uniform in their height. This resulted in many steps being extremely high and others not so much.

 

Tor stopping to briefly chat with a hiker and her dog midway up a large section of stones. Photo: James Visser.

 

No wonder people are warned to watch their footing! Photo: James Visser.

 

Rocks, rocks and more rocks… Photo: Nicole Anderson.

 

Tor leading his younger brother James up the trail. Photo: Helene Haarland.

 

At some points you would come across multiple very high steps that you literally had to create momentum to heave your body weight forward, while your leg muscles strained to lift your body high up on to the next step. And the next step. And the next step, and so on. There was no wonder that many people just had to stop for small breaks on the way and unfortunately some lost heart and turned back.

Needless to say, the higher you go, the better the views and as stated earlier the terrain changes quite a few times during the journey.

 

This is the 2nd of the four plateaus on the ascent. Photo: James Visser.

 

This was another beautiful sight to see at the 3rd plateau. Photo: James Visser.

 

Tor about to start down from Plateau 3 before the climb to the final plateau. Photo: James Visser.

 

Reaching the 4th and final plateau. Photo: James Visser.

 

There were a number of these rock balancing displays at this last stage of the hike. Photo: James Visser.

 

The fabulous views, together with continual encouragement from our Norwegian relatives, helped a great deal when it came to mustering the effort to keep going as far as possible to experience the magical beauty of this place. There is no doubt that Tor, Anne Synnøve and Helene were all very fit and used to this type of terrain compared to James and I but we did our best, following their advice.

 

Reaching Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock

After a couple/few hours of negotiating the various terrains and climbing and descending the ridges, Preikestolen is reached as you travel along a series of ledges that eventually leads to the ultimate prize.

 

As you reach the end of the rocky cliff, Preikestolen is along a narrow path to your right as you can now see down to Lysefjorden. Photo: James Visser.

 

I will let a few photos below speak for the beauty that you can enjoy, looking out to the various peaks and fjords in spectacular Rogaland.

 

James standing near the edge with Preikestolen just behind. Photo: Helene Haarland.

 

 

Taken standing on Preikestolen looking to the right. Photo: Helene Haarland.

 

 

Looking to the left shows a fabulous view of Lysefjorden. Photo: Helene Haarland.

 

 

Various other hikers relaxing and enjoying the view. Photo: James Visser.

 

 

Helene lying down to get a shot from the very edge of Preikestolen. Photo: James Visser.

 

 

Looking straight down from the edge. Photo: James Visser.

 

There is little wonder that people want to set out early to allow time to spend in this special and peaceful place, gazing out at such an awesome vista, taking it all in and enjoying the serenity of the overwhelming natural beauty. It was indeed good fortune that it was such a beautiful clear day and that Preikestolen was not at all crowded when compared to many photos I had seen prior to visiting Norway.

But of course, time marches on and you eventually have to think about the second half of the journey, heading back the way you came.

 

The descent

Heading down in many ways can be considered just as difficult (or in some cases, even more so) and it really can be a mistake to think that going down must automatically be easier than making the ascent. After all you’ve got gravity on your side, right? In truth, that could in fact be part of the problem.

 

The two brothers finishing their refreshments and relaxation at the top before starting the trip back. Photo: Helene Haarland.

 

It certainly proved a problem for James in an incident that occurred around ¾ of the way down. It was at this point the group were heading down one of the steep stone set of steps. Here he misjudged the height of the step which was deeper than he thought it was. The result was that he came down harder on that stone than he was expecting, which caused damage and quite a bit of pain to his right knee.

 

Heading downhill this was near the spot where James injured his knee. Photo: James Visser.

 

Even though he only had a quarter of the trip left to go, in terms of time, that represented around 40 or so minutes where he was slowed as he delicately and carefully plotted his course along each foot hold, trying not to jar his sore knee.

 

After the incident occurred, this was at one of the plateaus on the way down with Tor supporting James on the descent. Photo: Helene Haarland.

 

Fortunately, James’ niece Helene spotted a couple of women hikers that did not make it to the top and were just a bit ahead and she asked if they might have any painkillers. Fortunately, they did and were kind enough to give some to James which eased the pain a bit. The other major help to James in getting back down was the physical support his brother Tor provided in helping him through some challenging areas of descent and finding the best path for him to walk.

 

At the lowest plateau prior to the final push to get back to the car park. At least the views were still enjoyable through pain of the injury. Photo: James Visser.

 

Anne Synnøve and I had left to return to the car park much earlier so we eagerly awaited the rest of the group and were in contact by cell phones so we knew what had happened.

It wasn’t easy but James made it down within a reasonable time, all things considered.

 

Completing the hike

Having reached the safety of the car park again, it was easy from there for the 5 of us to make our way back to the waterside town of Tau and catch the car ferry back to Stavanger. Aside from the pain that James felt with handling stairs until his injury healed, everything was just fine and he was back to normal in a few days.

 

Waiting for the car ferry to unload so that we can board. Photo: James Visser.

 

Looking back at the village of Tau from ferry dock. Photo: James Visser.

 

As we head back to Stavanger, the lush terrain, village and waters make for a lovely view. Photo: James Visser.

 

Our wonderful hosts that gave us such a fabulous day, relaxing in the ferry lounge. L-R: Tor, Helene and Anne Synnøve.

 

So that, in a nutshell, was our experience of hiking up to Preikestolen. If you are keen on finding out more, do visit their official website.

 

Was the hike hard for us? Sure. Did it cause some pain? A bit. Would we recommend doing this? Absolutely. Just ensure you get some degree of fitness first and ideally some experience in hikes up steep and rocky terrain.

Preikestolen is simply one of those absolute iconic destinations that so many people talk about having on their bucket list. I can understand why. This was a really wonderful day and time that we got to spend with family members from Norway which I will never forget. Such fantastic natural beauty spent in the company of those we care about. What could be better than that?

Have you hiked up Norway’s Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock? Is this a place that interests you? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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116 thoughts on “The Natural Beauty of Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock Norway

  • March 7, 2020 at 12:20 pm
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    Oddly I worked with someone who was originally from Norway and he had mentioned a trip to Pulpit rock that he did with his family when he was back home visiting. Such an amazing place and the view is outstanding. The trip down is sometimes just as hard especially after making the trip up. Not sure I’d want to come down seeing those views.

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  • March 7, 2020 at 7:43 am
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    It’s very typical Norway that people tell you a hike is quite easy, but it really requires a certain level of fitness for one to be able to do it! On my trip to Norway a few years ago, I had to choose between Preikestolen and Trolltunga and chose the latter. Even for that one, people said its not very tough but turns out, it was HARD! And similar to how you describe the trail for Preidestolen, the terrain changed a lot on the 15km hike. For the locals in Norway, some hikes are a ‘walk around the lake’ but you find yourself grappling with steep rocks, holding on to ropes to climb and what not! The final destination – the Pulpit Rock itself, looks amazing though. Makes the tough journey to it totally worth it. I did not know that Mission Impossible 2018 had Tom Cruise on the Pulpit Rock!

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    • March 7, 2020 at 10:15 pm
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      While I was in Norway, Medha, I did notice that there didn’t seem to be too many unfit people around. It could well be that local people who grow up surrounded by these wonderful places, have been doing these types of hikes for a very long time and genuinely do not think it is hard at all. This also sets up an expectation in the minds of those who are not so fit, that this should be a relatively easy and relaxing hike – and hence the shock when we get there. Of course, reaching the objective then would feel so rewarding. Not that Tom Cruise ever hiked this either by the way…I was told he was taken up by helicopter to do the filming!

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  • March 7, 2020 at 1:47 am
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    Wow, the description of the Pulpit sounds treacherous. At the same time, it promises a thrilling adventure. The Nepalese sherpas have definitely made the climb easier and I see they have left their prayer stone piles around. The balancing piles are generally kept near water or mountains to evoke good vibes :D. The hike might have been a little arduous but it sure was rewarding at the end with those views. Loved reading through your experience.

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    • March 7, 2020 at 10:07 pm
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      Thank you so much for sharing a great comment, Ami. The balancing pile of prayer stones you discuss is really interesting. Indeed the work done by the Nepalese sherpas does make a huge difference and of course, evoking good vibes can only be good for all concerned.

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  • March 6, 2020 at 8:43 pm
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    What a beautiful cliff side, I knew I recognized it from Mission Impossible lol. I definitely want to hike there with my boyfriend.

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  • March 6, 2020 at 7:23 pm
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    I am an avid hiker but have never been to Norway. It’s nice to have a glimpsed what the terrain looks like. It is so beautiful there.

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  • March 6, 2020 at 3:31 pm
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    I have never been to Norway, much less heard of Pulpit Rock before, but oh my word. You weren’t kidding when you said it was incredible. I doubt pictures can even begin to do it justice, but it is absolutely gorgeous. Now I want to go!

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    • March 6, 2020 at 8:04 pm
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      Although this is probably the most photographed spot in Norway, Erica, I actually think there are more beautiful places that we saw while we were there. Norway is such a beautiful country and I can’t wait to share more in future posts. Thanks so much for your comment.

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  • March 6, 2020 at 9:56 am
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    How beautiful is all that! I am impressed! Would definitely LOVE to visit it one day. Norway and nature are special to me

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  • March 6, 2020 at 7:45 am
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    Thank you for the post, Nicole. I’ve bookmarked it. I haven’t been to Norway yet, and I definitely want to visit this beautiful country. When we go, I’ll check your travel report again to refresh my memory, because this place sounds fantastic.

    When I saw your first picture, somehow it reminded me of the Colca Canyon in Peru with its condors. But as I read through and watched your beautiful pictures – no, there is not much similarity; it’s just another breathtaking place of our beautiful planet.

    Actually, the descent is always more difficult than the ascent. I’m sorry to hear that James has this incident during the hike but glad to hear that it wasn’t too bad and didn’t cause any serious consequences to his knee.

    Take care,

    ~ Julia

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    • March 6, 2020 at 7:59 pm
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      Thank you so much for such a wonderfully in-depth comment, Julia.

      I am so happy you enjoyed this post and there is no doubt in my mind that you will love Norway when you visit. It is simply so beautiful. I haven’t been to Colca Canyon in Peru but you now have me wanting to look into this further for a future trip when we next visit South America.

      This is actually just the first of a number of posts on Norway as we spent some time exploring the country, so I do hope you will stay tuned for much more to be published soon. Thank you again for reading and leaving such an engaging comment.

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      • March 6, 2020 at 8:23 pm
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        I’ll definitely stay tuned. I look very much forward to your upcoming publications about Norway. Thank you.

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        • March 7, 2020 at 9:58 pm
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          Thanks so much Julia – these will start to come online every few weeks. Coming up next will be The Natural Beauty of Lysefjord, followed by Stavanger, Geirangerfjord and much more after that. I do so hope you enjoy the rest in this series on Norway.

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  • March 5, 2020 at 6:23 pm
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    HOLY CRAP! That’s some hike. Gorgeous, but pretty intense. That view at the end, though. Wow. Worth every moment, I bet.

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  • March 5, 2020 at 6:22 pm
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    Love this place as we just love to backpack and travel. Preikestolen looks so pretty from your photos and we are going to try to make it out there someday. Great post.

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  • March 5, 2020 at 6:08 pm
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    Wow looking down from the top point would probably scare the crap out of me, but this looks like such a beautiful place to visit and hike. Thank you for sharing this.

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  • March 5, 2020 at 2:19 pm
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    This place looks so peaceful, I would love to visit sometime soon. I hope that you can stick to paths and don’t have to climb walls as Tom Cruise did !

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    • March 5, 2020 at 9:02 pm
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      LOL – Yes you can definitely stick to the paths Ivana. No wall climbing involved here and it doesn’t need to be as dangerous as the situation Tom Cruise’s character faced in the movie!

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  • March 5, 2020 at 11:22 am
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    Great post!! Gorgeous pictures by the way. I yet have to travel to Norway and was actually planning a trip to Norway this summer and you have given me another great destination to add to my list. I love hiking and Preikestolen seems like it has some great paths and pristine views.

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    • March 5, 2020 at 9:00 pm
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      If you love hiking Daniel and are headed to Norway, this is one hike I would suggest you must do. Make sure you are in good shape and watch your footing as you go. Hope you have a great trip.

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  • March 5, 2020 at 5:43 am
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    Our family loves hiking, specially along the coastal area. However, with the height of 604 metres above the sea level, we are afraid of the heights. But as it has a flat top, it might still encourage us to be there, just don’t be so close to the edge.

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    • March 5, 2020 at 8:58 pm
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      That’s great advice Mijia – I think anyone would be foolish to get too close to the edge unnecessarily, unless lying down with your body’s weight keeping you safe. Falling from there would not be survivable. Thank you for reading and leaving a comment.

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  • March 5, 2020 at 5:21 am
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    I’ve seen pictures of this rock so often and never known where it was, so very pleased to find out! And what a wonderful place – I was so happy looking at all the photos in your post, all so beautiful. You describe the trip so well too.

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  • March 4, 2020 at 5:25 pm
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    I’ve never been to Norway, but I have heard so much about Pulpit Rock that it has been on my ‘must visit’ list for a while now. Your pictures are absolutely stunning – I really loved scrolling through them and picturing myself there to see that scenery firsthand. I love it!

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  • March 4, 2020 at 1:21 pm
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    My husband and I are amateur hikers and this sounds like the perfect challenge for us. I am so glad James got painkillers after his fall and recovered quickly. Am intrigued by how Nepalese sherpas laid the stones at this location in Norway! Which month would you recommend visiting?

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    • March 4, 2020 at 11:30 pm
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      We went in May last year and we thought it was just perfect. The stone laying would have just been a massive job – I can’t imagine what was involved in completing that. Hope you and your husband give this a go in future.

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  • March 4, 2020 at 7:30 am
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    Norway is so beautiful. Just wow. Definitely a bucket list country. When is the best time to travel there?

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    • March 4, 2020 at 11:28 pm
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      If you prefer summer Sarah, then go during May – July or if you are more of a winter person, then November – March. Bear in mind though that this particular hike will be considerably harder and have great risk during winter.

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  • March 4, 2020 at 4:30 am
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    That’s so fun that you were able to have a family reunion in Norway and hike to pulpit rock. I appreciate you giving an honest review of the difficulty of the hike. So many times people say a hike is “easy” when it clearly isn’t. I always have a much harder time and more fear going down than up. Sorry to hear that James got hurt! I know what it is like to injure yourself during a hike and then have to finish it with an injury.

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    • March 4, 2020 at 11:25 pm
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      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts Elizabeth. Unexpected things like getting hurt can obviously happen at any time but the day overall was still a success for us. Spending time with family and surrounded by such beauty were the best parts and luckily the injury didn’t happen earlier.

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  • March 3, 2020 at 11:25 pm
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    Your photos are absolutely stunning! It’s pretty cool that Tom Cruise filmed there. I would love to hike Preikestolen some day. It’ll be on my bucket list for Norway.

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  • March 3, 2020 at 10:06 pm
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    I have seen many Instagram photos of Pulpit Rock but have never known anyone who has actually climbed it. Well, those rocks sure looked treacherous and sorry to hear that James had an injury. The views are amazing and well worth the effort of the climb. I think I would probably go with an organised tour.

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    • March 4, 2020 at 11:21 pm
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      I do understand your preference to go with a tour Jane, especially if you are on your own. Tours naturally have a lot of knowledge and support available – something that would definitely come in handy, especially if anything goes wrong. You really do have to be looking down for a lot of the time to see where you are placing your feet on the rocks.

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  • March 3, 2020 at 9:24 am
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    I can see the popularity of this iconic post after the number of comments. This is such a famous place that I have wondered many times what’s this fuss all about. Now that I see all your explanations about the Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock, I completely understand more about it. Thank you for sharing this with us. Hope to get there some day !

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  • March 2, 2020 at 9:31 am
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    Wwwoooaaahhhhh…that’s so high, I have to admit. I don’t think I can even look down at the water! It’s very pretty, though.

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    • March 4, 2020 at 11:19 pm
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      That’s for sure Ntensibe! A lot of people lay down near the edge in order to get a shot looking straight down. Quite scary indeed and just about impossible if you are really scared of heights.

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  • February 29, 2020 at 6:19 am
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    I have been to Oslo, Norway but not yet on Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock. It looks like a great site for hiking. I’m fascinated with the view as well as the difficulty of the trail. I wish I can go here soon.

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    • February 29, 2020 at 6:31 am
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      Stavanger is the closest city with an airport to Priekestolen, Emman, which is around an hour away by air and then around the same again to reach the trailhead. While I would suggest the journey is worth it, if you do visit this area, there is so much more to see as well.

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  • February 29, 2020 at 4:11 am
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    What an amazing adventure. I would love to visit some day if I get healthy. Until then I will just live through your photos.

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  • February 28, 2020 at 3:49 pm
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    Oh my Gosh, what a lovely place. I love travelling and your pictures are like alluring me to visit Pulpit Rock. You must have really enjoyed the hike, aside from James’ injury. Great post, loved it.

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  • February 28, 2020 at 4:42 am
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    I would love the opportunity to visit Norway and take this hike to the Rock. The views are breathtaking.

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  • February 28, 2020 at 3:23 am
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    Wow! Pulpit rock looks amazing! I would love to check it out! The 1st picture you used to show the rock is awesome. Guess it is not the place to go though if you’re afraid of heights, lol.

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  • February 28, 2020 at 2:21 am
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    I’m not much of an outdoor person or a hiker, but I do love going to places like this that are packed with history and beautiful scenery!

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    • February 28, 2020 at 3:57 am
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      If that is the case Heather, Norway is a place you would just love. There is just so much in the way of beautiful scenery that it really is hard to take a bad photo! Thank you for reading and commenting.

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  • February 27, 2020 at 11:41 pm
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    Uh oh. Another location that I need to add to our list of places we need to visit. It looks amazing!

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  • February 27, 2020 at 11:18 pm
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    Would love to visit Norway, the landscape was is so stunning, when is the best time of the year to visit?

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    • February 28, 2020 at 3:54 am
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      Well if you are not a fan of the cold, then I would suggest the months of May through to August, Stephen. However, if you love the winter than November through to February/March would be the time to go. Norway is one of those countries that is truly beautiful any time of year.

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  • February 27, 2020 at 9:04 pm
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    That is such a gorgeous view. We’ve been to Europe several times, but we haven’t made it to Norway yet. I really want to go.

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    • February 28, 2020 at 3:51 am
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      I hope you do decide to go Bill. Aside from this area, Norway also has so much in the way of beautiful views to enjoy. Thanks very much for reading and making a comment.

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  • February 25, 2020 at 3:25 pm
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    I’ve never heard of this, but oh my – so lovely!! Hiking to it seems well worth it. The views are amazing! I haven’t been to Norway, but I’ll definitely add this to the list. I love getting some exercise while being rewarded with beautiful views!

    Reply