Svartdalen (The Black Valley)The popular hiking route from Torfinnsbu to Gjendebu takes you through Svartdalen – meaning “The Black Valley” –, which is often referred to as the most beautiful valley in Jotunheimen. As you wander through this lush valley, majestic towering peaks will surround you, several of which are over 2000 meters high.
The journey starts out from Bygdin, where you catch the historical Bitihorn boat to Torfinnsbu. Here at the shores of the Bygdin lake, you will find the DNT cabin (mountain lodge run by The Norwegian Trekking Association) which has the easiest access to the most 2000+ meter mountaintops of all. From here, you will climb up a steep hill leading into Svartdalen. From there, the terrain through the valley will be relatively flat and easy for eight kilometres, and on your journey, you will be walking alongside beautiful lakes and streams.
During the last leg of the hike, the majestic pyramidal mountain Knutsholstind, will be your companion. This staggering 2342 meter giant, also known as the king of the Gjende Alps – a mountain range in the eastern part of Jotunheimen – was considered Norway’s highest mountain in older times. In actuality, it is the 13th highest one.
As you leave this companion, and the gorgeous valley behind, the track takes on a very steep descent, of about 500 meters over only a few kilometres. As you approach Gjendebu – which is DNT’s oldest cabin –, you will through sheltered birch covered mountainsides, and wander over beautiful flower meadows, possibly alongside grazing cows. As you make your way down, be sure to stop and soak up the view of the emerald green waters of Gjende.
From here, you can hop on one of the Gjende Boats, which will take you to Gjendesheim. The duration of the walk through Svartdalen will be anywhere between 5-8 hours, depending on walking pace. Being dependant on two boats however, only gives you 6,5 hours if you are to make the trip in a day. Should that prove difficult, you can also spend the night at Gjendebu DNT cabin. Situated at 995 meters above sea level, at the intersection of high mountains and forests with a rich variety of peaks and glaciers you can explore, as well as opportunities for mountain fishing, or even beach life with swimming and volleyball, that might not be a bad option at all.