Stalheimsfossen and Sivlefossen

Voss Municipality / Stalheimskleiva, Hordaland County, Norway

Rating: 4     Difficulty: 1.5
Stalheimsfossen

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Stalheimsfossen and Sivlefossen were two giant waterfalls tumbling on opposite sides of the serpentine road known as Stalheimskleiva. In addition to the waterfalls, there was a lot of scenery packed into this tight area around the serpentine road itself. At its top was the Stalheim Hotel, which seemed to be a pretty neat place to stay with precipitous views towards the precipitously narrow Nærøydalen Valley, especially from the property's terrace. That valley sat at the bottom of Stalheimskleiva, but it was also important as it was accessible to the two wildest of the fjords belonging to Sognefjorden - Nærøyfjorden and Aurlandsfjorden. The relatively untouched scenic allure of those fjords earned them UNESCO World Heritage status the same year as our visit in 2005. Indeed, it was almost as if these waterfalls were merely waterfalling excuses to experience one of the top attractions in Norway!

Of the two waterfalls, it was Stalheimsfossen that was the more well-known of the two, but Sivlefossen was nearly equally as big and voluminous. Both waterfalls were said to be 126m and 142m tall, respectively. We really weren't able to see the waterfalls in earnest until we were on the serpentine road itself. However, since we weren't used to such narrow and steep winding roads at the time (driving a stick shift, no less), we were a little nervous about wearing out the brakes while being so close to the dropoffs as we gingerly descended the 13 switchbacks. With such limited space to pullout and better enjoy the views along the way, it got me wondering whether we would have been better off riding a bike (with good brakes of course) or walking the 2km in each direction.

Looking back at Stalheimsfossen and the Stalheim Hotel As far as we were concerned, we thought the best view of Stalheimsfossen probably came from about the third or fourth hairpin from the top of Stalheimskleiva. Again, with such limited space to pullover and get out of the way of traffic, we really had to improvise by finding space to at least allow other traffic to pass. We were also fortunate that the road was not too busy during our mid-morning visit.

Meanwhile, around the half-way point of Stalheimskleiva, we took advantage of a pullout that yielded perhaps our best view of Sivlefossen while on the serpentine road. There were a few other views of this other waterfall along the road, but none were as open as the one by the pullout. At the top of the waterfall was said to be the namesake Sivle Farm where Per Sivle (one of Norway's most dear poet and writer) once lived.

Once we made it to the bottom of the serpentine road, we also supplemented our experience of Stalheimsfossen with a short walk to its base. This walk was gentle and mostly flat as it followed along the Nærøy River (Nærøyselva). It was a far more relaxing experience than the thrill of Stalheimskleiva. Julie and I spent a total of 30 minutes on this walk, but the time spent on this walk rejuvenated us before we would continue on with our drive through Nærøydalen Valley and towards Flåm.

Finally, it was worth noting that the steepness of Stalheimskleiva was no fluke as it was said to be one of the steepest roads in Northern Europe thanks to its 20% grade. It was also the first of two famous serpentine roads we would be driving on in the country (the other being Trollstigen in Møre og Romsdal County). According to a sign here, Stalheimskleiva was built between 1842-1849, and it was originally part of a royal postal route connecting Copenhagen, Oslo, and Bergen. It wasn't until the 1950s when the road was improved to allow for motor vehicles. Speaking of history, the Stalheim Hotel was said to be originally built in 1885, which Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany would visit every year for 25 years from 1889 until the first World War.

Indeed, there was quite a mix of history and scenery here, and perhaps on a return trip, Julie and I would like to take a bit more time to explore the area, especially the gazetted UNESCO fjords at Nærøyfjorden and Aurlandsfjorden. Given the somewhat close proximity to both Voss to the south and Flåm further to the east, it seemed to make sense for this place to be such a base for further exploration.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Before going down the serpentine road Stalheimskleiva, we got this gorgeous view of the steep Nærøydalen Valley from the terrace of the Stalheim HotelBefore going down the serpentine road Stalheimskleiva, we got this gorgeous view of the steep Nærøydalen Valley from the terrace of the Stalheim Hotel
This was the companion waterfall to Stalheimsfossen on the Stalheimskleiva called SivlefossenThis was the companion waterfall to Stalheimsfossen on the Stalheimskleiva called Sivlefossen
At the base of Stalheimsfossen at the very end of the short walk along the river StalheimselviAt the base of Stalheimsfossen at the very end of the short walk along the river Stalheimselvi
Also from the terrace at the Stalheim Hotek, we got to see the upper part of Kjelfossen, which provided us some credibility to the claim that it was one of the tallest waterfalls in NorwayAlso from the terrace at the Stalheim Hotel, we got to see the upper part of Kjelfossen, which provided us some credibility to the claim that it was one of the tallest waterfalls in Norway
Prior to driving down Stalheimskleiva, we visited the Stalheim Hotel and its terracePrior to driving down Stalheimskleiva, we visited the Stalheim Hotel and its terrace

This was the view of Nærøydalen from the Stalheim Hotel TerraceThis was the view of Nærøydalen from the Stalheim Hotel Terrace

This was the view of through one of the World War II bunkers that was set up here.  This particular bunker was called 'Lorelei'This was the view through one of the World War II bunkers that was set up here. This particular bunker was called "Lorelei"

About to approach one of the first of 13 switchbacks of StalheimskleivaAbout to approach one of the first of 13 switchbacks of Stalheimskleiva

As we started to descend Stalheimskleiva, we started to get partial views of Stalheimsfossen and the mountains beyondAs we started to descend Stalheimskleiva, we started to get partial views of Stalheimsfossen and the mountains beyond

Our views of Stalheimsfossen improved even more by the time we got down to about the third switchbackOur views of the falls improved even more by the time we got down to the third switchback

More contextual view of Stalheimsfossen between the third and fourth switchbackMore contextual view of the falls between the third and fourth switchback

As we descended further down Stalheimskleiva, we started to see the impressive SivlefossenAs we descended further down Stalheimskleiva, we started to see the impressive Sivlefossen

Somewhere near the half-way point down Stalheimskleiva was probably our cleanest view of SivlefossenSomewhere near the half-way point down Stalheimskleiva was probably our cleanest view of Sivlefossen

Further down Stalheimskleiva, we started to get more direct views of StalheimsfossenFurther down Stalheimskleiva, we started to get more direct views of Stalheimsfossen

Julie on the well-developed walk to the base of StalheimsfossenJulie on the well-developed walk to the base of Stalheimsfossen

The walk now followed the Nærøy RiverThe walk now followed the Nærøy River

Julie walking quicker as she started to see Stalheimsfossen up aheadJulie walking quicker as she started to see the falls up ahead

Julie approaching the end of the walk and the base of StalheimsfossenJulie approaching the end of the walk and the base of the falls

Stalheimsfossen from the end of the walkThe falls from the end of the walk


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS




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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

To get to Stalheimskleiva from the E16/Rv13 junction in Voss, we drove north on the E16 for about 30km. Rv13 and E16 then split up at a junction in Framnes so we continued on the E16 by staying on the right. In another 5km, we had the option of taking a tunnel on E16 (thereby bypassing Stalheimskleiva) or heading towards the Stalheim Hotel where the steep road begins shortly thereafter. Obviously, we headed for the hotel, which was the left fork at the split.

Immediately past the hotel, the E16 steeply descended 2km down the serpentine road known as Stalheimskleiva before rejoining the main thoroughfare of the E16 after passing by a small car park. By the way, that car park was the start of the easy walk to the base of Stalheimsfossen.

Going in the other direction, the base of Stalheimskleiva was about 29km west of Flåm at the head of Nærøydalen.

For context, Flåm was 313km (4.5 hours drive) northwest of Oslo and 167km (2.5 hours drive) east of Bergen.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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Stalheimsfossen - Thanks 
I took a picture from Stalheim Hotel's terrace when I was 11 and it looks identical to yours. I didn't actually remember where in Norway I took it as we …

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