One Day in: Eidfjord - Climbing the Kjeasen, a Norwegian Gem
Updated: Jan 13
I have decided to dedicate a new category on my blog. This one is about short day-hikes, all originating in ports frequently called on by cruise ships. I can already add two articles to this category, as the hikes through Tyresta National Park in Sweden and the Cinque Terre in Italy both fit this description well.
And I now have to add another hike, for sure one of the most spectacular I have ever explored, located close to the Norwegian town of Eidfjord. You will climb the naked granite slopes of the fjord on this track, up to marvellous views over the entire valley. I first discovered the Kjeasen back in 2017, while guiding a biking tour that, among other places, passed by the Sima Hydropower Plant. When I was only able to explore a little part, and despite calling to the port of Eidfjord more than twenty times over the next years, I could never make the time to examine more of it.
Finally, in the year 2019, I was able to return hither, shortly before disembarking. Having just finished my first contract as the leader of a fourteen persons strong team, I went there with all my colleagues as a teambuilding exercise. The entire thing really was the most prominent cherry atop a giant cake, made out of amazing experiences, and a long time with a great team. Therefore, this hike will always have a special place in my heart, and indeed returning to it is one of the things atop my bucket list.
Four Reasons to do this Tour
You will get a stunning view all over the fjord.
You will conquer a challenging hike, scaling the very walls of the fjord, feeling like a true alpinist.
You will have a beautiful bathing spot, opposite to your ship.
You will follow a path where you meet very few other vacationers, making your experience a unique one, even if you arrive with hundreds of other cruise ship passengers to the port.
Coming into Eidfjord by ship, you should try to wake up as early as possible, as long before the berthing time as possible for you. This has nothing to do with our hiking tour, but everything with the region you are sailing through. The Eidfjord is one of Norway's most extended and most stunning fjords. Cagedged in by gigantic granite walls you surely would want to spend some time sitting on your balcony, just marvelling at the landscape. If your cruise line offers this package, maybe even take breakfast on your balcony, because the closer you get to the port, the more spectacular the scenery becomes until you finally cross beneath the Hardangervidda Bridge and close in on the port.
Now some people might, rightfully, ask whether it is vital to rise early. After all, the fjords are just as beautiful in the evening, when you go back out. And while this is correct, here are my three reasons for rising early during a cruise of the Norwegian fjords:
This is just absolutely anecdotal personal experience, but the weather is often better in the morning. Wind and Rain are built up over the day, with the sun providing them with their necessary energy and then dying down again overnight.
In Norway, especially in the middle of summer, the sun will rise early. If you are out for good pictures, you probably know already that the light of the rising or setting sun can massively improve your photographs. However, when the ship sets sail again, it is often too early for the somewhat late Norwegian sunset to have any effect.
Thirdly, of course, all the events and parties and dinners on the ship take place more towards the evening. And if you are on a cruise, you do not want to miss out on those.
So now, as we arrive at the berth in Eidfjord, let us begin with our adventure for the day.
Upon disembarking your ship, you immediately realize one thing: Eidfjord is a tiny town. Only about five hundred people live here all year round, and aside from one hotel, one supermarket and one café, there are not many amenities. But no more are needed. Most people step down the gangway and onto a bus, aiming for the Vøringfoss. Be you do nothing of the sort, instead turning left, directly after the terminal, onto a small footpath, following the shoreline. Here an excellent opportunity for taking a picture of your ship's bow presents itself. Afterwards, you follow along the banks of a small river until you reach a road bridge, you can use to cross the currents.
As you reach a crossroads, there is a sign pointing towards the Sima Hydropowerplant, which you follow by taking a left turn. One bridge over a river later and you find yourself on the premises of the plant. Follow the road, cross the parking lot until you reach the waterfront. Here you can continue, keeping the fjord always on your left until you find a broad gravel path leading to the water outlet beneath the machine house. Here you will also find the first signs pointing you in the right direction. You cross the water outlet directly at the machine house. A tiny, unremarkable concrete blockhouse, built half into the mountainside, it reveals nothing of the gargantuan forces with which the water shoots through pipes and turbines that are entirely hidden from view. Only if you look down at the water streaming below your little bridge and the vortices it forms upon hitting the calm fjord, you can somewhat guess what might be going on behind those walls.
After crossing the water, you now follow a small path over big boulders until you reach a wooden footbridge, anchored into a steep granite wall. This is the first and most accessible of its kind. While it is narrow and not equipped with a guard rail, you can find emotional support because you cannot be exposed to any hight. This is, however, the last time any comfort of this kind is offered. And since the bridges become progressively narrower and higher, I can only recommend turning around if this first bridge poses a challenge.
After reaching the other side, there is a steep path waiting for you. Through a thick forest, you ascent over giant boulders, giving you the feeling of climbing a steep staircase rather than a hiking trail. After crossing a rocky ravine of a little rivulet, the difficulty increases. Again and again, you will need to use your hands for support on big and steep steps. At plenty of spots, there will be a chance to look down at the fjord. Now a curious phenomenon can be observed. The higher you climb, the more the water below changes colour from a greenish-black to the turquoise of a glacial lake. This, of course, originates from the Sima Hydropower Plant itself, as it feeds from a pond situated much higher in the mountains and, therefore, brings water with the colour of freshly melted snow. And equally as cold. The higher you climb, the better you can see this, as your viewpoint's angle, combined with reduced reflections from the black mountains around, reveals this hidden beauty.
After about three-quarters of an hour, depending on your fitness, you reach the second crossing over a naked granite slab. Here it is only one wooden log, anchored into the rock. There is a small rope to hold onto, while you balance over the wood, two hundred meters of granite wall above and below you. It is also an excellent place to take some pictures and enjoy the breathtaking views.
From here on out the path gets even steeper. Now you frequently have to climb up wooden ladders or pull yourself up on ropes laid next to the track. There comes an opportunity to get close to a giant waterfall at about the hike's two-thirds point. Afterwards, the steepness eases off a little and finally, you reach the top, where an impressive viewpoint is located. Also situated here is a parking lot and road that ascended to this point through a long tunnel in the rocky mountainside. In case you prearranged for this you can be picked up by transport here. Otherwise, you'll have to climb down the same path you just ascended. Descending requires more care and takes, therefore, longer than the ascent.
After coming back down, I would recommend not immodestly returning to the ship. Shortly after reaching the town of Eidfjord, there is to the right a small parking spot and beneath a white hut on rocky shores. This is an excellent spot to swim in the fjord, or just lie on the rocks, and enjoying the sun. But please do not fall victim to the same mistakes as me and try to take a bath directly after finishing your descent, next to the first wooden footbridge. As mentioned before, most of the water here originates from the hydropower plant and is as cold as melted snow as I found out in a quite uncomfortable experience.
Anyways, after returning to the ship, you have really earned yourself a nice dinner and a few drinks, which you can enjoy with a certain air of superiority looking at all those passengers that just moved the few meters between the parking lot and viewing platform in the same time you scaled the very walls of the fjord.
As always, if you are interested in reading more blogs of the sort, more are on the way. I will try and post an update every week. You can also always subscribe to my old school mailing list, just at the bottom of this page.