Lysebotn is an idyllic village located at the innermost part of the Lysefjord, which has undergone significant changes due to power development. Despite this, the village has retained its charm and natural beauty and is today a popular destination for tourists who want to experience beautiful nature and exciting outdoor activities.
Lysebotn is a picturesque village situated at the end of the Lysefjord, surrounded by towering mountains. Records indicate that people have inhabited Lysebotn since the 16th century, and burial mounds from the Migration Period can be found in the area.
Formerly an agricultural village with farms near the sea and up the valley, most of the farms were repurposed and many new residential houses were constructed after the hydropower development began in the 1940s. Some farms such as Lysegården, Aukland, and Tangen are still in operation today, located along the road to Nilsebuvatnet.
Before local passenger boats were introduced in the 1880s, the fjord served as a significant transportation route for those living in the remote community at the end of the long fjord. Rowing to Forsand would take 6-8 hours, and rowers would change every quarter of a mile at regular stops called “fjerdingsskifter.”
The people of Lysebotn also had contact with areas to the east across the mountain via the Skinnvegen, an old route between Setesdal and Ryfylke. The name Skinnvegen originates from the fact that people in Setesdal would go to Stavanger to pay taxes with leather to the bishop. Leather was also an essential commodity for people in Setesdal, and they traveled along Skinnvegen with fur and livestock skins as trade goods to Stavanger. Skinnvegen began in Valle and ended in Lyse.
Talk of a road from Lysebotn over the mountain to Setesdal began in the 19th century, but it was not economically feasible with a ferry from Stavanger into Høgsfjorden and the long Lysefjord. The plans for the road and railway were not realized until the hydropower development led to the construction of a road from Lysebotn over the mountain to Sirdal. The road winds in 27 bends up the mountainside from the fjord bottom and was officially opened on October 18, 1984.
The power stations in Lysebotn are now vital in supplying energy to the region. In 1909, A/S Lysefjord received a concession for the development of the watercourse in the Lysefjord area, but it was after World War II that plans for hydropower development in the Lyse area picked up due to the need for more electrical power in the country. The Lysefjord Power Station was built in 1947 to provide electricity to large parts of Rogaland. This led to significant changes in Lysebotn, where only 63 people lived at the time. Construction roads were built, tunnels were blasted in the mountain, roads were constructed, and high-voltage lines were stretched over the landscape.
Lyngsvatnet was transformed into a significant reservoir, artificially constructed to support the development of the power station located in Lyse, which was created by blasting a tunnel 50-60 meters into the mountains. A 65-kilometer-long power line was constructed to connect Lysebotn to the transformer station located in Tronsholen, Sandnes, and it spanned across the Lysefjorden and Høgsfjorden. The introduction of power development led to a complete transformation of the Lysebygda area, with Lyse Kraft providing various modern amenities, including houses, a church, a school, a community center, and a general store.
Today, Lysebotn is home to Northern Europe’s most modern power plant, which replaced the old Lysebotn 1 from 1953. Lysebotn 2 uses the same reservoirs and dams as its predecessor, but provides better resource utilization and increased production of renewable energy. With a drop height of 680 meters and two Francis turbines, Lysebotn 2 is Northern Europe’s most advanced power plant. The renewal of the power plant results in approximately 15 percent more energy production without the need for transfers of watercourses or regulations. The plant produces around 1,500 GWh of renewable energy each year, which provides electricity to approximately 75,000 homes.
Lyse has few permanent residents today, and the operation of the power plants has become more and more automated. During the summer, the village comes alive with tourists and base jumpers from around the world. The village offers excellent accommodation options and serves as a starting point for various mountain trips, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Kayaking on the fjord is a fantastic experience, and cycling on the old construction roads north of Lysebotn is also possible.
Despite the development of the power industry, Lysebotn has managed to retain its charm and natural beauty. The history of the village illustrates how development has transformed the lives of its inhabitants and the landscape. Today, the power plant in Lysebotn is an essential source of renewable energy, and the village has become a popular destination for tourists who want to experience the area’s breathtaking nature and thrilling outdoor activities.