Falling about 200 meters over the sheer faced rock you can imagine how spectacular this waterfall is and some of the pictures seen do not do the real life experience justice.
I imagine in the past visitors have only been able to get so close to the waterfall because unless you were a rock climber there was no real route up the side of the mountain. However, a suspension walkway and staircase have been built on the side and now visitors can make it all the way up. When you get there are wonder at the engineering employed to created the route you are amazed that there isn't a little shed somewhere with a wizened old person collecting your donation but no; apart from the car park cost this is a totally free day (at monetary if not energy wise).
We had completed a great deal of research prior to the visit and knew there was a car park at the base of the walk in Umhausen and that there was a hotel at the top of the walk. However, signs were abundant at the top that it was hotel parking only and a tow away service operated. We didn't see anything happen but since a return to the car is needed we decided that I would drop my wife at the top (leave her to enjoy a drink and lunch at the Gasthof Stuibenfall) whilst I drove to the bottom again, parked and then made my way back up as quick as I could (took 65 minutes and I did not spare the horses) because the path from the car park increases in steepness as you get closer to the waterfall.
And what a spectacular sight the waterfall is when you first see it because even on very hot days in the middle of summer the volume of water makes the three tier aspect of it breathtaking.
Also what takes your breath away is the suspension walkway when you get to it and the view of the tiered steps at the top of that and when you are at the bottom the thoughts of 'what the hell am I doing this for' do pop through your mind. The suspension bridge is totally that - suspended and when you share it with a party of 30 youths coming down then it does get a sway and wobble on it that those with vertigo would hate. Just hold the rails and let them past and you'll be fine. Keep the mantra 'one step at a time' and you will soon knock off the five platforms.
Platform 1 is at the base of the whole waterfall and the spectacle is terrific.
Platform 2 is just before the suspension bridge and gives a different aspect so well worth the little expedition off the main track.
Platform 3 is really interesting as it extends out to where the water cascades down and basically we sat and watched those who ventured out return as though they were entering a 'miss wet t-shirt competition' because you do stand in the spray. Reviving on a hot day.
Platform 4 is close to the top and gives great views up and down the water.
Platform 5 is on the opposite side and is a trek up the hill and then back down again to see a view a think would be similar to that at platform 4. Five is a one way up and down and used mainly by the rock climbers that we saw clinging to the rock face at the side of the waterfall but if you are energetic enough then I would certainly advocate making the effort.
It is another five minutes up to the top and I have to say that all the pathways are well maintained and safety has obviously been considered and so this would be a great walk even for young children (assuming they can cope with the two hundred and odd steps). Five minutes from the top is the Gasthof Stuibenfall and a much needed liquid refreshment or for the energetic the small hamlet of Neiderthai is just half hour further.
Now we did not find a circular route around this waterfall and so it is a up and down the same pathways but I will say that the view does change and you spot things on the way down that you didn't notice on the way up and vice versa.
As you leave the waterfall and head back towards the car park the ground does even out a little (for a mountain) and eventually you pass Ötztaler Greifvogelpark (a park with birds of prey displays and how it used to be in the old days), the Badesee Umhausen (outdoor public swimming pool) and the restaurant Kneipphäusle.
Now a day ticket for the car park (Sept 16) was €4 but there are no public facilities available. The closest ones are at the restaurant and there is a 50 cent suppliment to use them (something I disagree with because if you are going to charge the public to park at least give them some amenities - the waterfall at Kimml does!).
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