We did it! We were on the Homelands cruise last September and hiked to Pulpit Rock – it was amazing! Yes, the time in port is very tight but it is doable if everything goes as planned. That is the key – have a plan, know your turn around time! And hope the weather cooperates. The weather on our day was questionable but we went anyway and it cleared up some later in the day and we had great views at the rock.
We planned out and timed every aspect: ferry, bus, hike, time at top, hike back, bus back and ferry back. If at any time we were not on schedule, we had already agreed we would have to turn around. Although we also had a plan in case we missed the ship, which meant we would have missed the next stop and have to go to Bergen as not much options from Stavanger.
We arrived in port at 10am and we were down at the disembarkment location ready to exit the ship. We were the first off at 10:15. We went straight to the ferry, which was departing at 10:40. There was a company at the ferry selling tickets for both ferry and buses on other end, but because we didn’t know how our time would work out, we choose not to pre-book any tickets. We purchased our ferry ticket while on board the ferry (just walk on board and someone comes around to check your ticket or we will sell you a ticket). We only purchased the single ticket for that trip, not a return ticket (we purchased the return ticket on the return ferry). When we arrived at Tau there were buses waiting to go to the Pulpit Rock parking lot. We walked up to one of the buses and purchased our ticket at the bus (they take credit cards). Check out the different bus companies online and look at their time tables; on the way back we took a green bus. Of course, it was not crowded when we went so we didn’t have to worry about the bus being full and having to wait for the next bus, which would have made us off our time schedule. If it will be crowded then I would have pre-booked the bus ticket.
Once we arrived at the Pulpit Rock parking lot, we stopped for the restroom and started the hike. Yes, all information says the hike takes 2 hours up and back. However, we knew we had to do it in 1 ½ hours up and back with only ½ hour at the top. We did make it in 1 ½ hours up and 1 ½ hours back! You have to keep moving with only short stops for photos, which is hard because there are so many beautiful spots. It is a strenuous hike at that pace, there is a lot of vertical to climb but it is completely doable in 1 ½ hours if you are in decent shape. There is a clear path with mile/meter markers along the way. If you ever feel lost, look ahead to the next marker. There was 1 other person from the ship trying to make the climb (so there were 3 of us out of 930). We started out hiking together but we kept on our pace and soon left him behind (we saw him back on the ship and he did make it also).
When we arrived at the top we only had ½ hours to enjoy the amazing views. There was a line to get a picture on the corner. Best vantage point would be one person waits in the line to sit on the corner and the other person is across from the rock (on the trail coming up) so you can see the magnitude of the drop. Have you seen the Mission Impossible movie – we sat right were Tom Cruse was hanging on the edge! I can’t state how breathtaking it was!!! Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to hike up farther -where you can look down on Pulpit rock.
After ½ hour we started down. Goal was 1 ½ hours down. Even going down we kept moving to make the time schedule. We brought sandwiches to eat on the way down; at this point we knew we had some extra time so we stopped for 15 mins to eat. Also bring plenty of water; there are no bathrooms except in the parking lot at bottom. We made it down in 1 ½ hours with 10 minutes to spare before the bus left back to the ferry. The green bus was waiting in the parking lot near the bathrooms. We purchased our return bus ticket right on the bus. We made the ferry at 4:00 back to Stavanger (I was worried riding the bus back but it did make it to the ferry in 15 mins). We were back to Stavanger by 4:40pm with time to walk around town as we made our way back to the ship.
Here was our time schedule:
10:40 Ferry from Stavanger to Tau
11:20 Bus from Tau to Pulpit Rock parking
11:45 Arrive at Pulpit Rock parking - start hike
1:15 Arrive at top
1:45 Start hike back down
3:15 arrive at Parking lot - we got back at 3:35; we stopped to eat on the hike down
3:45 Bus back to Ferry
4:00 Ferry back to Stavanger
Our back up was the next ferry which left Tau at 4:40pm
Know your turn around time! If you aren’t going to make the time schedule turn around and go back. We knew we had 40-minute leeway if we took the 4:40 ferry but we didn’t want to chance it.
Also note: trying to make the hike in 1 /12 hours each way is strenuous. There are very steep parts to the hike which take a lot of leg strength. Both my partner and the other guy who went, their legs were hurting the next day. Both couldn’t take the stairs for several days. I exercise regularly and I didn’t have any pain or soreness. My partner said he would not do it again; he was really in pain. I on the other hand would do it in a second!! And I can’t wait to go back again, with more time to spend on the hike and at the top.
We are leaving on Oct 21 for Viking cruise to China and we are planning a similar hike when we are in Qingdao port for 8 hours and trying to go hike Mt. Laoshan – another tight turnaround. Again, we have a plan and if at any point we will not make our time schedule, we will turn around and go back. Also, weather dependent.
I'm happy to answer any questions. This was great to relive the hike!
Good Luck Julie