The Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen in the Norwegian language) is a massive cliff that reminds of a huge stone block with an almost flat, rectangular, table like surface on the top. It rises 604 meters (1982 ft.) above the sea level and provides unbelievably spectacular views overlooking the Lysefjord (of course, granted that the weather is good). The Pulpit Rock is located in Ryfylke, Rogaland region of Norway, around 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the town of Stavanger which is the starting point for most of the trips to the cliff. The best time for hiking Preikestolen is during the summer season from April until October when the weather is relatively warm.
How to get to the Pulpit Rock
Get to Stavanger
First, you must get to Stavanger. There are flights and trains available from the Norwegian Capital - Oslo. Flight time is around 1 hour. The train journey takes much longer - around 8 hours. When in Stavanger, make sure that you prepare some food for lunch earlier to take with you while hiking as there's no cafes or any places where you can buy food along the trail or on the Pulpit Rock top.
If you are on a budget, unfortunately, in Stavanger there's not too much choice of cheap accommodation. Even if you try to sleep in a hostel or B&B, you will pay significantly more than in other countries. I was in Stavanger Bed and Breakfast and paid 940 NOK for a room with three beds (120 EUR or 156 USD) but the staff was very nice, room very clean and well maintained. They offered a huge buffet for breakfast, and also, for a small charge, it was possible to take some bread and make your own sandwiches with the buffet food for the trip to The Pulpit Rock, which was very handy. The location was also excellent, only a 10 minutes walk from the ferry port.
Take a ferry to Tau
From Stavanger, you have to take a ferry to another town on the other side of the fjord, Tau. Ferries run quite frequently, more or less every hour in the morning and in the evening. You don't need to buy any tickets in advance, there will be a person selling tickets on the ferry. When you say that you want to visit the Pulpit Rock, they will sell you a return ticket, both for the ferry and the bus that will collect you in Tau and drive you to the car park at the start of the walking trail. The price is 250 NOK per person (32 EUR or 42 USD). The whole journey ferry + bus to the trail takes around 1.5 hour.
HIKE THE TRAIL TO THE PULPIT ROCK
When I arrived to the car park at the starting point of the trail to the Pulpit Rock, the weather got worse. It started raining and although it was June it was quite chilly. The climb up the mountain is around 5 kilometers (3 miles) long and is not very easy, you should be fit and wear an appropriate pair of shoes. It took around 2 hours one way. Maybe it seemed harder for me because of the rain and slippery, muddy surface. By the time I was halfway to the top, I had already been completely soaked through. But anyway, I decided to keep climbing up with the hope that the wind would blow away the clouds and the fog which, it seemed, was deliberately and maliciously, becoming thicker and thicker. I was getting upset at the thought about the beautiful views I must have missed. When I reached the top, the fog was so thick that I could barely see anything within a 5 meters (20 ft.) range. I could even barely see the Pulpit Rock itself. Leaning out of the edge there was just white nothingness. There was only one, very short period when the clouds moved away and I was able to catch a glimpse of the beautiful fjord and take some photographs. However, it didn't last longer than 30 seconds.
The flat top of the Pulpit Rock is full of many cracks and sometimes you can get the impression that it might break off from the fjord. Although there are no barriers, there have not been any accidents reported (with the exceptions of a few suicide attempts). However, you should mind your steps, especially while the weather is bad.
On the way back, I noticed little stacks of stones, called cairns, placed on the rocks along the trail. Wikipedia says they are used for marking the trails. If you have some more information, feel free to leave a comment.
By the time I reached the ferry port in Tau, I was as wet as if I had just gotten out of a swimming pool. I was a bit upset about the weather but also very happy that I had done this adventurous hike. And, of course, ironically, when I arrived in Stavanger, the Sun was shining beautifully and the skies were intensely blue. In Norway, you must be prepared for everything, you can get four seasons in one day.
The whole trip took around 8 hours, probably because of the bad weather, I was told in the B&B that it should last around 6 hours. So in one day you can easily complete the trail to the Pulpit Rock, go back and also spend the long summer evening relaxing in the charming town of Stavanger.
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