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There's a reason for the Besseggen being one of the most popular mountain hikes in Norway. The spectacular panoramic view over Jotunheimen's peaks and the two lakes - the deep blue Bessvatnet and the turquoise Gjende - draws more than 60 000 hikers during the short season that lasts from late June to early September.
The 14 km long trail leads between the two DNT cabins Gjendesheim and Memurubu. It climbs/falls 1200 m in total and is quite demanding over its entire length, so you need to be in a good physical shape to hike it. The Besseggen ridge, approx. one kilometer long and 250 meters in elevation, is located midways along the trail. It involves some scrambling, and people sensitive to heights should mentally prepare for a challenge. For most people, it takes approx. 7-8 hrs to complete the hike.
Parkering is at Reinsvangen, 1.5 km before Gjendesheim. From there, a free shuttle takes the hikers to the trailhead and the boat. There’s a kiosk and toilets at Gjendeosen.
Choice of route:
The most popular way to hike the Besseggen is to take the boat from Gjendesheim to Memurubu and walk back. Many may experience the ridge easier to climb up than down, especially if one is afraid of heights. Another advantage is that you don’t have to rush in order to reach a boat. The disadvantages of this direction, however, are that there is no good way out in case you need to break and that you’re walking away from the view.
The greatest advantage of hiking in the opposite direction, from Gjendesheim to Memurubu, is that you can start at any time and don't share the trail with a boat load of people. Early birds may even reach over the ridge before the meeting traffic starts. Later during the day when it gets crowded you may have to wait your turn at the narrowest passages. Plus, you don’t have to remember to turn around to take in the view.
Should you be in doubt whether you can accomplish the Besseggen, we recommend that you start at Gjendesheim. That way you can turn around at any time and you can even walk to the viewpoint on top of the ridge and back without having to accomplish the ridge itself. This is also the best way to experience Besseggen outside the boat season.
On the return, you can choose the trail towards Bessheim that exits on Veslefjellet and return to Gjendesheim on the trail from Glitterheim which you meet at Bessosen. This is a less steep and demanding return, but a little farther than the direct descend to Gjendesheim.
Since most people take the boat in and walk back from Memurubu, the departures from Gjendesheim in the mornings tend to be more crowded than the afternoon departures from Memurubu. It is highly recommended that you book the boat trip in advance. For timetables, terms and booking, visit www.gjende.no The boat service runs daily from the middle of June to the middle of September and during the weekends before and after the season until the first week in October. In peak periods and weekends there are often extra departures, so check online before travelling.
Remember to wear solid hiking shoes with profile soles. Bring warm and weatherproof clothing even in nice weather, enough food and drink for the entire hike and on warm summer days, a small towel and some swim wear for a refreshing dip in Lake Bessvatnet.
The heavy traffic has left its toll on the trail, leading to erosion and destroyed vegetation. An enormous effort has been put into repairing the trail and revegetating the worst sections on both the Gjendesheim and the Memurubu side. Please keep on the trail when walking the Besseggen!