Friday, June 14, 2013

Kayaking Lysefjord 2013 Update

Lysefjord, Forsand, Norway
For forty two incredible kilometers Lysefjord stretches east from Sandnes Kommune.  The fjord, cut by glaciers, cuts deep into the Norwegian plateau showing off some of the most beautiful sights in Rogaland.  The cliffs near the two-kilometer wide mouth stretch 400 meters from the water and gradually rise to over  900 meters near Lysebotn where the fjord narrows to just half a kilometer.
A very enjoyable and relatively easy sea kayak trip is an excellent way to experience the some of the subtler beauty of the fjord.  The trip can be done in one very long day, but a more reasonable schedule is to plan for two 8 kilometer and one 25 kilometer day.

Launch from the ferry terminal at Lauvvik and paddle across the fjord toward Oanes being mindful of ferries and other traffic.  Continue up the fjord for 8 kilometers to camp along the road to Fossmork on the south side of the fjord.  This campsite can be very busy, but there is are tables, a small cooking shelter, fire pits a toilet and fresh water available from a stream.  There are also blue berries scattered throughout the forest in late summer.
The small bay here offers a few opportunities for fishing.  In late summer the seals do a pretty efective job at clearing out the fish stock, however.
On our trip in late july we had a wonderful tailwind and large swell that made this portion of the trip extremely fast. Surfing the waves up the fjord is not only great fun, but makes your forward progress remarkably fast.
The next day is long but a very rewarding paddle.  In the first few kilometers you will pass under Preikestolen on the northern shore of the fjord.  There are a multitude of waterfalls that begin in this portion of the fjord.  The shore line gets increasingly steep and cliffy from here out.  There are few places to camp or pull over.  It's a good idea to plan out your lunch and bathroom breaks carefully with a topo map.  There is a small scree pile below Preikestolen that is fairly easy to stop at.
Also beginning in this area are large numbers of blue muscles growing along the sheer cliff walls.  It's easy to paddle slowly along and harvest the best looking muscles for a delicious dinner.  Be sure to check out the Matportalen for shellfish safety information before eating any shellfish durring the summer months.  Algae and bacteria blooms can contaminate the shellfish and make them unsafe to eat.
This stretch of the trip can be very long depending on the weather.  A strong headwind can make this section slow going.  Get and early start so you can enjoy this portion of the trip.
There are few flat spots available from this point on.  The best places to camp are Flørli and an abandoned farm two kilometers further up the fjord.  Flørli offers a DNT hytte.  Be sure to have your DNT membership number handy if you plant to stay here.  It is a good haul from the water to the hytte.  It may be possible to camp near the beach, but you might be taking your chances.  This is also a good place to bail out of the trip should you need to stop early.  It is possible to make reservations with the Tide ferry and ensure that they will stop here.  There is excellent cellphone coverage throughout the fjord.
At this stop you can also climb the famous Flørli Stairs, possibly the longest stairway in the world up to the plateau above.  There is reported to be a cafe open at the base of the stairs, but in late July 2010, it did not appear to be  open.
The old farm two kilometers from Flørli on the north shore offers a huge meadow, cherry trees and a stream for fresh water.  The old farm house is in very bad shape and should probably not be considered for shelter in anything but the most dire situations.  The meadow is maintained by a small flock of sheep and is perfect for camping.  There is an abundance of blue muscles throughout this part of the fjord as well.  Keep your eyes open for seals.  In late summer they frequent this portion of the fjord.
The views from this camp are spectacular.  To the east the 600-700 meter rock walls leap out of the water to form the cliffs of Kjerag.
From the farm camp, the paddle to Lysebotn is an easy 8 kilometers.  Just before Lysebotn, below Kjerag, on the south side of the fjord, is a small beach.  In the summer BASE jumpers frequent this beach; in good weather it promises to be a great show.
With a moderately early start it is quite possible to make the fast ferry (2 hours to Lauvvik) at 15:00.  There is also a slower tourist ferry (4 hours to Lauvvik) that leaves Lysebotn at 12:00 and 18:00.  It is a very good idea to book ahead for the fast ferry.
Lysebotn offers a staffed DNT hytte, a camp sight and a small restaurant and bar.

Trail: Lysefjord [google maps]
Launch: Luvvik Ferry Terminal
Length: 41 kilometers
Driving Directions: From Stavanger take the E39 toward Sandnes.  Exit at Route 13 toward Røldal.  Stay on R13 and follow signs for Lyvvik.

View Lysefjord in a larger map

2013 Update:

I just got some great questions from folks who discovered our blag.  They might be useful for others so here's a cleaned up version and some answers:

Q: Is there anywhere around where you can rent canoes that is convenient for the route (I have only found kayaks)?
A: Not that I know of.  Contact Lysefjord Kayaks in Forsand for kayak rentals and to enquire about canoes.

Q:  What is the best way to get to/from Forsand from Stavanger airport?
A: A combination of busses and ferries is the easiest way to get from Sola to Forsand.  Google can help you navigate the bus service ( and the ferry service (

Q: Where can I get camping fuel, groceries, etc?
A: Stopping in the Sandnes or Stavanger Sentrum is a good idea.  The grocery store in Forsand is pretty limited.  If you take the bus from Sola you will pass through Sandnes on your way.  Also remember that other than gas stations hardly anything is open on Sundays anywhere in Norway. Check this map for useful locations in the Stavanger Sentrum.

Q: What is the best way back from Lysebotn to Forsand?
A: Currently it looks like only the NorLed tourist ferry is the only option.  It leaves from Lysebotn at 12:30 in the summer months.

Q: Where can I camp?
A: Check the map above.  There are very few spots where you can actually get out of your kayak because the cliff walls are so steep.  There are even fewer places where you can camp.  You can get detailed topo maps from the DNT (touring society) and hunt for a spot if you are interested in an adventure. Also you can check the online topo maps at

Q: What's the bug situation?
A: The midges can be intense when the wind stops blowing.  If there are sheep around look out for ticks.  Scratch that.  Constantly check for ticks.  They're tiny, fecund, and carry lymes disease.

Q: What kind of weather can I expect?
A: Yes.  You can expect weather.  Check the forecast at but keep in mind anything beyond 36 hours is pure speculation and pretty much guess work: 


  1. Dear Anne and Aaron,
    I've just come back from the Lysefjord and your infos have been very useful to us. They have helped us make the most of this amazing place (including the advice on the mussles! We've had them every single day).
    The abandonned farm on camp 2 is now protected by scaffolding and white tarpaulin (visible from 10km away!) but real renovation doesn't seem to have started yet. There is also a new concrete pier. Hopefully, the area will still remain open to kayakers and hikers to spend the night.
    Thanks a lot!

    1. I'm so glad you found this useful. I missed out on the muscles when we did our trip; we forgot to check Matportelen before we headed out and were afraid to sample. I was out there today with my mom on the tourist ferry fondly thinking of our trip in 2010.
      From what I understand, there will be a new tourist hotel going in at the old farm. I'm a little worried that this might spoil the camp site, but that remains to be seen.
      If you are still in Stavanger, I'd love to meet up with you for a beer and hear about your trip. I live just a few k out of town.

  2. Hi!

    Your trip souds great! I'm planning on going on a roadtrip to Norway with some friends this September. We would like to kayak down the Lysefjord as well. We were wondering if you remembered the name of the organisation where you have rented the kayaks. Would be very helpful.


  3. You can rent kayaks from Ut i Naturen in Stavanger, but they aren't very friendly. We had some issues with getting a confirmation of our rental the most recent time we worked with them.
    There's a kayak rental spot in Forsand, just at the mouth of Lysefjord that looks much more convenient. Check them out at .
    We've never used them, but their boats looked good when we dropped by earlier this summer. You may need a certificate that shows you have passed an intro kayak course, or show that you can roll.
    If you have a good experience with them, we'd love to hear about it.

  4. Hi ! We (Carolyne and I) live on a small island called "Idse" about 15 mins drive from Lysefjord. We have cruised up and down the fjord numerous times in our boat and never tire of the beauty of it all :)
    Anyone who is in the area and in need of help of any kind please dont hesitate to give us a ring on 0047 95243083


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