8th Apr 2012 3:54pm | By Oliver Jones
Known as the base jumping mecca for thrill-seekers, Preikestolen in southwestern Norway is a dizzying cliff overlooking the dense, green valleys of the gorgeous, fjord-rich Ryfylke region.
At a stomach-flipping 604m (1982ft) high, this rock formation – known as ‘the preacher’s pulpit’ – has a flat top that measures 25mx25m, drawing hordes of masochistic travellers who like to picnic on high and peer over the edge.
The mountain plateau is believed to have been formed by melting glaciers at the end of the Ice Age, nearly 10,000 years ago, and was once used for pagan rituals. Preikestolen now receives hundreds of thousands of googly-eyed gawpers a year.
Considering its flat top, hurl-worthy height and views over the icy blue Lysefjord below, it comes as no surprise that, in the past 15 years alone, more than 30,000 base jumps have been performed off Preikestolen and in the surrounding Kjerag Mountain area.
Indeed, Norway is considered by many to be the base jumping capital of Europe, as it has the sheer cliffs and deep fjords ideal for a heart-pumping jump. Even better is the fact that the extreme sport is perfectly legal in the Lysefjorden area.
Still, some adrenaline junkies have base jumped to their death here. Nine fatalities have been reported in the Kjerag Mountain region, so it should be remembered that this rush can come at a price.
If you don’t fancy plunging off Preikestolen, there are other ways to enjoy its majestic magnificence. Hiking the 7.6km round trail to the top and back down again is becoming ever-more popular. The path is undoubtedly steep, but it’s well worth the effort.
Packed with roaring waterfalls and lush landscapes, you should also take time to explore more of Lysefjorden. The Trollstigen road, or Troll’s Path, is another steep trek, complete with 11 sharp hairpin bends. Make it to the top, though, and you’ll be rewarded with a view of the 320m Stigfossen Waterfall cascading down the cliffside.