The Krimml Falls
There’s an undeniable draw to water that we feel as humans; perhaps an evolutionary trigger that tells us water means life, or maybe we’re just drawn to the tranquility or power.
The Krimml Falls definitely fall into the latter category; the majesty and enormity of this, the biggest waterfall in Europe is undeniable. Even as you approach the foot of the falls, long before you can see them, you can hear and feel the water.
2007 saw my first visit both to Austria and the Krimml Falls (follow the link to the official site).
I’d grabbed a last minute deal to the Tyrol region of Austria, somewhere I’d never been before but to where I’ve returned many times since.
I found myself in a small, friendly and family run guest house on the outskirts of a town called Seefeld, which is east of Innsbruck and turns out to be a fantastic staging area for visiting not just the Tyrol region, but also getting to Salzburg or even out of Austria to Munich, Lichtenstein or Zurich of you don’t mind a little extra driving.
A local tour operator was offering a number of day trips and excursions and I was informed that there was a walking trail following the path of the falls so this seemed like a good way to spend a day with my camera in hand… and wow was I not disappointed.
Here’s a few facts about Krimml to whet your appetite…
The falls are the biggest in Europe and fifth largest in the world with a total drop of 380m (~1250ft)
Krimml attracts around 400,000 tourists a year, making it one of Austria's top attractions
An average of 5.3m3 of water (5300 litres) per second plummets over the falls. That’s enough to fill 18 standard size bathtubs every second!
The Krimml Ache river is the source of the falls, flowing around 20km through the alpine scenery of the Krimml Ache Valley before reaching the falls
The falls are in the Hohe Tauern National Park, the largest nature park in the Alps
Researchers from the Paracelsus Private Medical University in Salzburg have found that the spray or mist from the Krimml Waterfalls has a cleansing effect on the lungs
Along the walking route are various vantage points which give fantastic views over the surrounding countryside, making for ideal rest or water stops, which you’ll probably want to take advantage of; especially on the way up, which can get quite steep in places.
A highlight of one visit was watching a group of people, in full cold weather gear (it was early September and reasonably warm), equipped with Nordic walking poles (one of my pet hates in life)… This group were making a big deal about swinging their poles, showing off their expensive outdoor equipment and clothing, spreading themselves the full width of the trail and being generally noisy enough to attract the attention they clearly wanted. As I approached them, me coming down, them coming up, a very elderly couple approached them from behind, wearing shorts, t-shirts and sandals, they proceeded hand-in-hand, to walk around the noisy group, overtake them and with quiet dignity continued up the path leaving the pole-swinging hikers far behind.
I’ve since returned to the falls on many occasions and in all seasons.
In late spring and early summer the drive to the falls is beautiful, with many places to stop on route; following the Grossglockner Pass (one of my favourite driving roads… in the world) you can easily spend a whole day or more taking in the landscape, climbing the falls and then stopping for a well earned evening meal.
In the autumn and winter the pass can become less welcoming; although the roads are incredibly well maintained and usually cleared of any snow it still pays to take more care, but is just as worth the effort as the snow covered hills and mountains all around make for some stunning photography.