Hike the Peer Gynt Trail and Lusterfjord
|Accommodations||Guesthouse, Mountain Lodge|
|Group size||6 -12|
Aug 10, 2023 - Aug 20, 2023
|Single Supp Cost||
This 11–day trip is a combination inn-to-inn and hotel-based trip to two of Norway’s most classically beautiful areas.
Our trip will begin in the central Gudbrandsdalen Valley, between Lillehammer and Vinstra, in southeast Norway. Surrounded by the National Parks of Rondane, Jotunheimen, and Dovrefjell, this is “Peer Gynt’s Kingdom,” named for Henrik Ibsen’s legendary Norse folk hero. A stunning area of sparkling lakes, rich forests, open moorlands, and expansive mountain vistas, this is the region where the folk character Peer Gynt was born and the place that inspired Ibsen to turn the folk tale into his epic play. Starting in Skei and ending in Espedalen, we will hike the 40-mile length of the Peer Gynt Trail, each night stopping at a variety of comfortable, classic Norwegian mountain lodges. Peer Gynt may well have been a boaster and a dreamer, but experiencing these landscapes on foot will convince you that he had good reason.
The second part of our trip will be based at the Nes Gard Guesthouse on Lusterfjord, the innermost arm of the 125-mile-long Sognefjord, the longest fjord in the world. Nes Gard sits across the fjord from the Feigumfossen, one of the highest waterfalls in Norway. With magnificent views of the mighty Hurrungane Mountains in western Jotunheimen and access to the Jostedal glacier to the north, this area has many hiking and mountaineering opportunities. Our hikes will take us up luxuriant green valleys with roaring waterfalls, across highlands with panoramic views, and up fjord-side hills with breath-taking views of the fjords. We will hike by summer farms, isolated homesteads, and visit cultural sites including the Urnes Stave Church, the oldest stave church in Norway, and a UNESCO Heritage site.
For anyone who is intrigued by Norway the pristine beauty and its enduring outdoor ethic, our Norway Inn-to-Inn trip is one for your bucket list.
Day 1: Arrive Lillehammer
Independent travel to Lillehammer. Afternoon tour of the Maihaugen Open Air Museum, with time to explore Lillehammer. Orientation and welcome dinner.
Day 2: Skei – Fagerhøi
Following breakfast, we’ll have a morning transfer to Gamledalen and the start of our hike.
Our day begins with a short climb up to the crest of Skeikampen (1,123m) just above Skei. From here the trail takes on an easier grade as we approach Prestkampen (1,244m), our highest point of the day. After descending to Skardbua, our route passes through a wide-open mountain landscape. Staying mostly at 1,100 meters, we’ll have beautiful views of the Jotunheimen Mountains, the Gudbrandsdalen Valley and Kvitfjell (the site of the 1994 Olympic downhill ski arena). As we pass through the Storronga Lake area we may spy a blue thrush, a golden plover, or even a crane. The last kilometer of our route follows the Peer Gynt road into Fagerhoi and our accommodation for the night.
Day 3: Fagerhøi – Gålå
Leaving Fagerhoi, we’ll follow a 3km section of country road before climbing up Kantliknatten (1055m). Even though this peak is “only” 1055m high, on a clear day there is a fantastic view of the Gausdal Vestfjell mountains, as well as the Jotunheimen and Rondane mountain ranges. From here our route passes through birch forest, by many ponds, and across some marshy areas. At 7km, about halfway, we will arrive at Lauvåsen, a mountain lodge built in around 1890. We may want to take the opportunity to stop and try some homemade sour-cream porridge, traditional waffles, and juice served by the hostess, Hanne Britt.
Leaving Lauvåsen the terrain is relatively level, the trail first passing by Bjørkåsen, a holiday and hunting cabin built at the end of the 19th century, then making our way past numerous lakes, abandoned slate quarries, and over marshy areas. The trail leads up a slight hill before flattening out as it approaches the community of Gålå and our hotel with its wonderful view of Lake Gålå. On the horizon, to the west, it’s possible to see the Jotunheimen’s white glaciers and jutting peaks.
Day 4: Gålå – Fefor
Descending to Lake Gålå, we’ll walk by the shore side stage for the annual outdoor Peer Gynt production. From there we will follow a country road up and past the Solbraa Mountain Museum and on through the traditional summer mountain farm country where the famous Gudbrandsdalen brown cheese was invented around the year 1860. From here the trail leads up, steeply for a short section and then more gradually, to Valsfjell (highpoint of 1148m). Weather allowing, we’ll complete a circuit of this high plateau and enjoy the beautiful views. On a clear day, it’s possible to see our whole hiking route.
From Valsfjell, we’ll descend through dense birch forests down to Lake Fefor, where we’ll take a break to enjoy the views and maybe even enjoy a swim! The last part of our route follows an old cart road up to our historic hotel.
Day 5: Fefor – Espedalen
Our morning starts with a short transfer to our trailhead. The first 2–3km of the trail follows an old country road through birch forest. We then leave the trees behind and join the trail that leads towards the peak of Ruten. It’s nice to stop and take a break at “King Haakon 7’s hut” no matter what the weather, before continuing across Hestådalen Valley, and steadily up toward Ruten. Once at the top of Ruten we will be rewarded with a breathtaking 360-degree panorama view with Hemsedal mountains to the west, the famous Jotunheimen peaks of Galdhøpiggen and Glittertind to the north-west, Snøhetta of the Dovrefjell range to the north, Rondanemassivet to the north-east and Alvdalssølene and Muen/Venabygdsfjellet mountains to the east. On rare occasions this area is visited by reindeer – we might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse!
Descending first toward Hestådalen valley and then northwest down to Espedalen, the trail takes on an easier grade and offers a wonderful view of Jotunheimen, Vinstervatnet, Sikkilsdalen and southward to Gausdal. The last few kilometers of the trail passes through forest before arriving at our hotel in Espedalen.
For those not wanting to climb to the very top of Ruten, there is an option to cross the ridge from Hestådalen valley and head down toward the Espedalen valley.
Day 6: Transfer to Lusterfjord
Our guide/driver will meet us after breakfast for our drive to our guesthouse, located on the northern shore of Lusterfjord, which is the innermost branch of Sognefjord, Norway’s (and the world’s!) longest fjord. Departing the Ruten area, we’ll drive via Lom and continue over the Sognefjellsveien pass (1434m), the highest mountain pass in Northern Europe. We may break up our drive with short visits to Lom, a historic town with a magnificent stave church, an outstanding bakery, and numerous gear shops, and/ or a hike up in the Sognefjellet.
Day 7 – 10: Day hikes around of Nes Gard
Molden Mountain to Gaupne Church
A short transfer will bring us to the start of our hike up Molden Mountain, which rises straight up from shores of Lusterfjord to 1116m. Rest easy – we won’t hike up that side! Instead, we’ll approach the peak from the opposite side, ascending via a combination of farm roads and trails through pine forest. We will exit the woods at the old summer farm Svarthiller with magnificent views down to the fjords. Our route continues up steeply for a bit, then more gradually across and up the rocky summit. The view from Molden is said to be the finest in the area, taking in the Hurrungane mountain range, and the Jostedal and Fresvik glaciers, and the Lusterfjord below. We will follow the route around the top that gives the best views, finding a place to picnic along the way, before heading back the way we came.
In the afternoon, there may be time to visit the seventeenth-century Gaupne Church with its decorative rose paintings, or the Urnes Stave Church, Norway’s oldest stave church. To visit the latter, we’ll drive to Solvorn to catch the ferry across the Lusterfjorden to Ornes. From the ferry landing, we’ll hike up the hill past strawberry fields and raspberry canes to the 12th-century wooden church with its remarkable decorative carvings on the northern exterior. While in Solvorn, we’ll admire the Walaker Hotel, one of the oldest in Norway (it opened in 1650, and is still operated by the same family).
Vigdal to Navarsete
Our day begins with a short drive up the Jostedal valley and then up to the farming community of Vigdal. Beginning in the Vigdalen valley, our hike takes first us past the mountain farm of Vigdalstøl and up to the DNT (Den Norske Turistforening (Norwegian Mountain Touring Association)) cabins at Fivla (927m). From here we continue up and across the high plateau of Vagsdalen, just below the rise to Fivlenosi. We’ll have incredible views of Jostedal Glacier as we pass Heggedal Lake and descend down through the green valley of Engedalen.
The Bergsetbreen and Nigardsbreen are two arms of continental Europe’s largest glacier, the Jostedal Glacier. We’ll drive up the Jostedal valley, stopping first in the Kundalen to visit the Bergsetbreen, an awe-inspiring glacier that seems to hang down from the Jostedalbreen. We’ll walk a short way along a flat, easy path up the valley to get a good view. After returning to the van, we’ll continue up the Jostedal valley to the Breheimsenteret Visitor Center, then turn up the valley towards the Nigardsbreen itself. From the parking area, we’ll take a boat across the Nigardsbrevatnet, the lake of meltwater at the base of the glacier. A short walk over polished rock will take us to a close but safe viewing distance of the glacier and its beautiful blue hues.
There is an option for an easy, guided hike on the glacier itself. All necessary equipment will be provided by the guides, who are experienced mountaineers from all over the globe.
If time allows we will visit the informative exhibits at the Breheimsenteret Visitor Center. This small museum has exhibits (in English!) on thousands of years of natural, cultural, and climatological history of the area.
Feigumfossen is one of the highest waterfalls in Norway with a vertical drop of 218 meters. The walk to the waterfall winds through the woods alongside a roaring river and peaceful lakes in turn before emerging onto the fields of a summer farm. From these fields, the path goes up right beside the waterfall, offering thrills and impressive views alike. We’ll picnic at the summer farms above the falls, before deciding whether to further explore the valley ahead, or turn back.
If time allows, we will stop in the village of Luster to see the historic stone church.
Evening Day 10: We will enjoy a farewell dinner at Nes Gard.
Day 11: Breakfast and depart
The trip will end after breakfast with a transfer to the train station in Flåm, arriving around 11:30 am. From here, we take the famous Flåmsbana train, which crawls up an impressive 863m in just over 20 kilometers to the station at Myrdal. The Myrdal station is a regular stop of the Bergensbana, giving travelers passage to either Bergen or Oslo for flights out the following day.
Please Note: This itinerary is subject to change either before the commencement of the trip or en route.
If you wish to have your own room, there is a single supplement charge. Please let us know if you would like a single at the time of registration. If you are traveling alone and would like to share a room, we will match you with a roommate. If there is no one with whom you can share, a “forced” single charge of $350 will apply.
Airfare, guided glacier walk, optional/individual transfers or excursions, items not on set dinner menu, beverages, personal items, tips to guides.
During the inn-to-inn segment of the trip, our luggage will be transferred ahead to our night’s accommodations. Our luggage will be transported with us to our hotel at Nes Gard. This means you will only need to carry a daypack with those items you will need during the day’s hike. Having said that, we recommend you keep your luggage to a size that you can easily manage yourself, given that our accommodations may have narrow hallways and no elevators. See a sample packing list.
During the inn-to-inn section, Days 1–5, we will be staying in comfortable Norwegian mountain lodging. Rooms are double occupancy with private baths. Most have saunas and some have swimming pools. Typically, they are located in beautiful surroundings with good access to a variety of outdoor endeavors but do not offer much by way of shopping.
Days 6–10, we will be staying at Nes Gard Guesthouse, an 1850s farm that has been renovated to offer accommodations. The architecture and interiors are reminiscent of the period. Rooms are double occupancy with private baths.
Breakfasts are buffet style and will usually include bread, cheese, breakfast meats and fish, cereal, yogurt, and hot beverages. Picnic lunches will be packed from the breakfast buffet (hotels will provide wax paper and plastic bags, or you can bring a reusable container).
Set dinners will be taken at the hotels. They will generally consist of a starter followed by a main course and dessert. Wine and beer will be available at an additional cost. The main course tends to be either meat or fish accompanied by potatoes and fresh vegetables. With advanced notice, we are happy to accommodate those with medically restrictive diets or vegetarians, and we will do our best to accommodate those with non-red meat or vegetarian preferences.
It is easiest to fly to Oslo’s Gardermoen Airport. Trains leave directly from Gardermoen Airport for Lillehammer and take about two hours.
The trip will start at 1:00 pm on Day 1 at the Lillehammer Train Station. We will confirm the exact location and confirm the meeting time in the final information. The Lillehammer train station is small, so finding the group will not be a problem, and it is an easy walk to our accommodation at the Mølla Hotell.
The trip will end in Myrdal on the last day. After breakfast, the group will transfer to Flåm the morning of the last day. From Flåm, we travel together by train to Myrdal, where the trip officially ends. In Myrdal, individuals travel on their own to either Bergen or Oslo. Travel from Myrdal to Oslo is about 5 hours and about 2 1/2 hours from Myrdal to Bergen.
Please contact us for a more detailed itinerary, for more information, or to register. We're also happy to supply a list of past participants willing to share honest insights into this guided Norway In-to-Inn experience.
A deposit of $500 along with your completed registration forms will reserve a space on your requested trip. We accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express card as well as personal checks. To make a deposit, you may either follow one of the “Reserve a Trip” links below, give us a call at 1-888-845-5781, or include your payment information in the area provided when completing your registration forms.
The balance is due 75 days prior to departure for most of our trips. When applying less than 75 days prior to departure, full payment is due. For final payments, we accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express, as well as personal checks.
As confirmation of receipt of your deposit, we will send you a comprehensive packet of information pertaining to your trip, an invoice for final payment and additional information including release agreement form, medical information form, travel information, and packing list. Upon receipt of final payment and no later than 30 days prior to your trip start, you will receive trip rendezvous information and a list of accommodations. Returning trip participants will receive a 5% discount on most trips.
Receipt of all forms will finalize your registration.
“This is my third trip with you. Love “the company”- reasonable costs and wonderful hiking trips.”
“Muldon views at the top were OMG spectacular.”
Robin Alvarer, Glendale AZ