Besseggen, in the county of Oppland in eastern Norway is one of the most popular hikes in the country.
It was mentioned as one of the best and most thrilling hikes in the world by National Geographic (2014) — with good reason.
It lies east in Jotunheimen National Park, between the two lakes, Bessvatnet and Gjende. Once you make it to the top, you’ll be treated with unparalleled views of the the national park.
The trail starts at Gjendesheim, up to Veslfjellet, down Besseggen, over Bandet, which is relatively flat, and ends at Memurbu.
From there, getting back is easy, thanks to a frequent ferry back to Gjendesheim (see timetable for the boat here). The boat ride can be done in any direction. In fact, most tourists prefer to start with the boat to Gjendesheim, and do the reverse trip. Typically the hike takes from 6–8 hours, not including rest stops.
The first part of the hike is relatively steep but then levels off part way though.
From the top, you have an amazing view of the two lakes. Gjende lies about 1300 ft lower than Bessvatnet, and gives off an emerald green shine due to the clay runoff from the nearby glaciers. Bessvatnet has a crisp blue color, like most mountain waters. The contrast between the two lakes, as you can see from the top picture, is pretty spectacular! Many choose to take a rest stop here to enjoy the view, before continuing along the ridge.
Beware, the ridge can become rather narrow at certain points. It is important to communicate clearly with other hikers who might be trying to pass from the opposing direction, or else you’ll end up in a standoff.
Due to the large number of hikers, estimated 30,000 every year, the trail was heavily eroded. Constant maintenance is carried out to improve the trail, and to prevent further erosion. For this reason, the local tourist organization advises you to stay on the well marked passage, which is proven to be sturdy and safe. Like most tourists trails in Norway, the path is well marked with red Ts.
There are several variations of the hike that can be done in both summer and winter. If you re enjoying the surroundings so much you decide to make it your base for a few days, check out the tourist cabins in the area for your perfect type of accomodation. Come experience one of the best hikes in the world for yourself!
(Opening photo by: Sascha Kllmer, CC)