For some strange reason, Victor Hugo visited Lysefjord in 1866 and wrote that Lysefjord must be the most terrifying of the ocean reefs. Maybe he wanted to dramatize his travel experiences just like travelers of today?
In the end of the fjord lies Lysebotn, a little village with a permanent population of 15 and maybe a hundred over-night tourists. The village is surrounded by mountains and the fjord in every direction. A small road with 27 serpentines and a 1.1 kilometers long tunnel leads up to Kjerag and continues towards Sirdal. The road has an average inclination of 10 percent, and we saw many brave cyclists going up the hill.
Lysebotn is famous among BASE-jumpers, Kjerag is one of the most known jump locations in the world. It is really dangerous too, since 1986 it has taken the lives of nine jumpers, many of them experienced.
We stayed three nights in Lysebotn at the newly opened cabin of Stavanger Turistførening. We did the hike up Kjerag and some car sightseeing in Sirdal. Here is the description of the hike from Øygardsstøl to Kjeragbolten:
Hiking from Øygardsstøl to Kjeragbolten
This is a quite long hike with lots of climbing, going up and down a few times before reaching the top of Kjerag. Many of the cliffsides are really steep, but the route has chains to hold on to in the steepest part. The overall distance (including return) is only 11 kilometers, but it easily takes around six hours to complete. In good weather there are no dangerous parts, except maybe the narrow snowy ledge close to Kjeragbolten, where you still can slip quite safely to the right side suffering only embarassment.
The classic step out on Kjeragbolten, the small rock stuck over a fall of 1000 meters to the fjord is of course dangerous too, but that isn’t actually part of the route, and I actually skipped it, knowing that my slight fear of heights might turn my legs to jelly walking the small ledge out to the rock. Ellie was braver and went out for a photoshoot on bolten.
The good thing about Kjerag is that, although it is quite popular, it isn’t overcrowded like Preikestolen. The walk up is much more strenous, and it is so much further from Stavanger that not as many daytrippers bother over there. The solitude that you can find on the mountain makes the experience so much more special than the neverending queue up Preikestolen.
You can get to Øystensstølen by car from Stavanger through Sirdal, or by car ferry to Lysebotn and six kilometers up the road towards Sirdal. The road is closed in the winter, but doing the hike in icy conditions would anyway be dangerous.