Saturday, September 10, 2011

The most amazing waterfall of them all - Impressions #25

This lovely paddle wheel steamer plies its way around Brienzersee all day long, connecting the various villages to Interlaken, at the far end of the lake. Its first stop outside of Brienz is at the base of Giessbach Falls, a 15 minute trip. Though these falls don't have a legend attached to them, like the death of Sherlock Holmes, they are certainly more awe inspiring. The Giessbach Falls are perhaps the most dramatic and awe inspiring in the entire region.

Another view of the boat. It was built around the turn of the 1900s and is in perfect working order after a restoration in 2001.

At the other end of the lake the boat pulls up to a little dock which also serves as the boarding platform for the Giessbachbahn. This is the oldest funicular train in Switzerland, built in 1879. It's a short line, chugging its way up to a landing stage about 350 above the lake.

There is also a trail, which I chose to take instead. The trailhead and base of the Giessbach Falls are just a few dozen yards from the dock.

The first 350 or so feet of the Falls consist of a series of rugged cascades, almost like a whitewater river set at a steep slope, rather than a "falls".

The first climb ends at the terrace of the Grand Hotel Giessbach. You can see the funicular platform, the little gable roof tucked into the trees, right in the center of the photo. The trail comes up to roughly the same spot.

The terrace of the Grand Hotel Giessbach is an excellent place for a meal or tea. But I saved that for after my hike up the falls, for that first 350 foot climb was just the warm up. I was only 20 minutes into a hike of 2 hours up.

Everything about the hotel lives up to its name. It is in no way intimidated by its magnificent setting. I heartily recommend lunch at the Grand Hotel.

From the Grand Hotel this is the view up the next branch of the Falls. Look closely just above the top of the Falls and you will see a footbridge. The next photo is taken from there. If you think this is the top you are seriously mistaken.

The view up from the footbridge in the previous photo. Look closely here, just a little more than half-way up and you'll see that the trail passes behind the cascade. You can just make out the horizontal bars of the guardrail.

At this point I am approaching the point where the trail passes behind the cascade.

Looking back down towards the hotel. Starting to get a feel for the scale of this place?

If you look back at the photo "the view up from the footbridge" and find the highest point of water, that is where this photo was taken from, looking up yet again. It just keeps going and going. Eventually it ends at a glacier thousands of feet above. I never made it. But one of these days I will. From here I continued to the top of the water seen in this photo...

... and from there I took this photo looking up again. The cascade just kept climbing up into that misty light.

At this point I threw in the towel, headed back down to the Grand Hotel and had a really delicious late lunch.

Remember, you can click on any of these photos and see much larger versions.


  1. I just viewed your most recent posts with Dad and Katreen. We all enjoyed tremendously your photos and narrative. You've got me interested in pulling out my old Sherlock Holmes books and rereading the Final Problem.

  2. These are beautiful photos of an incredibly beautiful place. I vote that you paint the ninth photo in this post as your next painting. Then try the misty one with the yellow leaves in the sunlight. Beautiful photos alright!

    Sounds like just about the perfect holiday. So glad you got out and did a lot of hiking. Also a lot of chocolate drinking and spaetzle and fondue eating!