About Kjosfossen, Rjoandefossen, and the Flam Railway Waterfalls
Kjosfossen was perhaps the main highlight of our Flam Railway (Flåmsbana) experience.
Not only did we think it was the most compelling sight, but we felt it was hands down the headline attraction in a famous and very touristy train route that also featured many other waterfalls in addition to this one.
In any case, Kjosfossen was a 93m tall hourglass-shaped waterfall that was sourced by the Reinunga Lake (Reinungavatnet) near the highland station at Myrdal.
Given the magnitude of the lake, we have to believe that the falls should have reliable year-round flow despite apparent hydro power infrastructure that might have an impact on the Kjosfossen waterfall itself.
Yet, I wondered if these developments might have something to do with powering this famous railway in a classic case of development bringing otherwise remote sights to the masses.
Anyways, like I mentioned earlier, there were many waterfalls along the 20km Flam Railway in addition to Kjosfossen.
Below is our waterfalling-centric guide to the journey to hopefully enhance your experience as you trip plan or follow along on your train ride.
To my knowledge, this existing tourism literature doesn’t cite many of these waterfalls in their follow-along guides.
This guide assumes that we start in Flåm and end in Myrdal on a train journey.
For the reverse direction, you can follow this waterfalls guide in reverse.
Later in this article, we’ll also describe the driving self-tour which started in Flåm and went as far as Blomheller (though did end up going to Kårdal on our first time here in 2005, but I suspect we weren’t supposed to)…
Brekkefossen was the first waterfall that we encountered on the Flam Railway and we spotted it pretty early on.
Barely 3-4 minutes after the train started moving, we noticed this waterfall on the right side of the train.
It had a nearly 100m drop over the steepest part of its run on the Brekkeelvi according to my Norgeskart measurements.
Moreover, it seemed to have a pretty reliable flow based on our visits in late June 2005 and in July 2019 (albeit in bad weather on the latter visit) so that made this waterfall legitimate in my mind.
That said, the PA announcer didn’t make mention of this waterfall as we passed by it in either of our visits.
In fact, the train didn’t slow down for this falls so it came and went pretty quickly.
Regarding the name of this waterfall, I found it strange that Norgeskart didn’t have a name for this falls, but it was named “Brekkefossen” on one of the free walking maps we picked up at the visitor center in Flåm.
Rjoandefossen was the next major waterfall seen on the Flam Railway.
This horsetail-shaped waterfall featured a 120m drop (though other literature reported 140m), and it was backed by a knob called Vidmesnosi (or Vibmesnosi), which really made for nice photos of the falls in context.
With its high volume flow, Julie and I were very impressed by this falls, and we even thought it was equally as impressive as the more famous Kjosfossen.
Since this waterfall was so easily seen on the right side of the train with wide open vistas, we were able to view this falls from a variety of angles.
Aiding in the waterfall’s volume, we saw from the maps that it was sourced from a multitude of highland lakes so it ought to have year-round flow.
Further reinforcing the notoriety of this waterfall, the PA announcer did make mention of this falls as we approached it, and the tourism brochures and maps also call out this falls.
About a minute after the last of our views of Rjoandefossen, we then managed to get a view back downstream towards some farms backed by the V-shaped contours of the Flåmsdalen (Flåm Valley).
I recalled the PA announcement making a mention of this idyllic view of the valley, which was on the right side of the train as we headed south.
However, I didn’t recall if the train slowed down for this view, so it could have been very fleeting.
In any case, I considered this view to be one of the photographic highlights of the trip.
This was especially since it didn’t involve a waterfall, which made it stand out and added a bit of variety to the many photos we took on this train ride.
After this waterfall, probably another 3-4 minutes later, we noticed the unofficially-named “Tunnshellefossen” after the name of the Tunnshell Farms here.
This was a very tall 122m waterfall that thinly cascaded down in multiple tiers, which seemed to drop at angles from each other.
Unlike the other waterfalls and attractions seen to this point, this was the first (and possibly only) significant waterfall that I knew of that was best seen on the left side of the train.
Not surprisingly, the train didn’t really slow down for this waterfall though it sat in pretty open terrain so we had a bit of time to enjoy the views of the falls from different angles as we moved on.
Soon after Tunnshellefossen, the train then reached the Berekvam stop.
Given that the Flåm Railway was mostly single track (due to its rugged terrain), this was the only place on the route where trains moving in opposite directions could pass each other.
This meant that we had to wait for the passing train here before we could move forward and continue the rail journey.
Each time we’ve done our Flåm Railway trips (once in late June 2005 and again in July 2019), our pause in the trip allowed us to notice other waterfalls tumbling in the area.
After the train re-started, it went by a stop at Blomheller, which I know was as far as we were supposed to be able to drive (something we’ll get into the self-driving tour later in this page).
It was also the site of the Trolla Avalanche, whose effects could apparently be seen to the west (“right” side of the train as we go south towards Myrdal).
This stop was originally called Melhus after the nearby farm, but they renamed it so as to not confuse it with a station by the same name in Trøndelag County.
And not long after that, we reached an area with a farm as well as a somewhat short and stocky waterfall beside it possibly with a height of 8m if my Norgeskart measurement is correct.
This waterfall was called Kårdalsfossen, which was one of the few officially named waterfalls on the Flam Railway journey since it sat on the Flåmselvi (the main river running through Flåmsdalen Valley).
The PA announcer made mention of it so that gave us the heads up to look for it.
We noticed this waterfall on the right side of the train, but we had to make sure to look down at the main river through the base of the valley and resist thinking the thinner waterfalls tumbling down the neighboring mountains as Kårdalsfossen.
Since the train didn’t slow down for this waterfall, it came and went pretty quickly so it was quite easy to miss.
Shortly after Kårdal, we then could see on the left side of the train a really impressive 230m waterfall that was unofficially named “Myrdalsfossen”.
Next to this waterfall was a series of switchbacks (part of the local road beyond Blomheller) that was known as Myrdal’s Wings (Myrdalsvingene).
Seeing the switchbacks adjacent to the “Myrdalsfossen” was the signature characteristic of this waterfall in my mind.
The views of this waterfall came and went pretty quickly as the best opportunity to view it happened when the train went between two tunnels.
Since the train went through this viewing opening pretty quickly, it was quite easy to miss.
We also saw the falls from within an open tunnel though it was harder to photograph given the frequent bars that would cut in and out of the line of sight.
After getting through the tunnels and going past “Myrdalsfossen”, we then reached the viewing platform for Kjosfossen, which was also situated between a pair of tunnels.
This time, the train did stop for the waterfall, and even the PA announcer forewarned us of the Huldra that haunted the area.
Huldra (or plural Hulder) were kind of like seductive spirits or fairies of Nordic folklore.
So as the train stopped right at the platform, that allowed all the train passengers to crowd onto the platform so they could get their full frontal shots of Kjosfossen (though the crowds made it hard to get a clean look).
Then, with all the commotion going on, music started blaring from the loud speakers on the train, and that was when some ladies playing the part of the Huldra danced before the mist at Kjosfossen on a peninsula jutting into the Flåmselvi.
There had to be at least two ladies playing the part so when one lady disappears, the other one re-appears by a different part of the peninsula before Kjosfossen.
Many of the train passengers (us included) wondered how these women were able to fight off the waterfall’s spray and still dance like nothing could faze them!
Anyways, regardless of which direction the train went, it would always stop at the Kjosfossen viewing platform.
So if it was a bit hectic trying to enjoy the falls right now, there was another shot at enjoying the waterfall at this platform on the way back from Myrdal.
Speaking of Myrdal, beyond Kjosfossen, the train made two more stops (including the final one at Myrdal), which revealed the lake sourcing Kjosfossen called Reinungavatnet.
This rail excursion took us about two hours round trip. It was indeed a welcome break from all the driving we had done in Norway.
Because the Flåm Railway was a little over 20km in length with plenty of train stops along the way, it opened the door to possibly experiencing the valley by foot.
If hiking the full length might be too much of a commitment, there were ways of taking advantage of the train to do most of the work while hiking shorter stretches (preferably in the downhill direction).
One such scenic stretch worth going for a walk would be hiking from Myrdal to Blomholler, which would have allowed us to experience both the Myrdalsvingene as well as getting close to Kårdalsfossen without worrying about missing the fleeting views on the train.
Self Tour into Flåmsdalen
As for the self-touring of Flåmsdalen, it seemed to be a discouraged thing, but there didn’t seem to be anyone stopping you from driving the road.
Self-driving may not be the most effective use of your time as we were slowed down by the narrow road while sharing with bicyclists and pedestrians with limited opportunities to pass.
However, I could kind of foresee saving a fairly significant amount of money by choosing not to buy the pricey ticket (round-trip fare) for the railway.
I’m also sure residents who frequently make use of the single-lane roads probably don’t appreciate tourists clogging the road with even fewer opportunities to pass slower drivers.
Anyways, on our first visit to Norway, we actually self-drove to Blomheller plus a little more beyond that (albeit the latter was unsanctioned).
So that is our focus on this part of our Flåm writeup.
Like with the Flåm Railway, the self-drive began on the main road through the valley.
We got to see Brekkefossen pretty much straight away, but this time, we got to see it from the banks of the Flåmselvi River and got to spend a bit more time to photograph it without worrying about the falls passing by as the train would keep moving.
Barely ten minutes after Brekkefossen, the road went unpaved and became almost single-lane, and we would ultimately get pretty close to Rjoandefossen.
Again, what made this experience different from the railway was that we were able to view the falls from directly across the river (whereas the train had more distant views of it).
We were even able to feel a little bit of its spray that managed to make it all the way across the river and onto the narrow road.
Beyond Rjoandefossen, we then continued driving for some 15 minutes as the road curved its way deeper into the valley.
Along the way, we got good views of Tunnshellefossen as well as a car park at Berekvam, which seemed to accommodate hikers.
We continued driving beyond Berekvam until we hit sort of a dead-end at the Blomheller Station.
There were interpretive signposts telling us we were 458m above sea level and about 8.4km from Myrdal or 11.8km from Flåm.
The sign also told of the story of the Melhus Farm, which ultimately became abandoned in 1967 but whose lawns remained maintained to this day by other inhabitants of the valley.
Even though we unknowingly drove beyond Blomheller Station, the narrow road was definitely barely wide enough to fit the width of our rental car.
So we ultimately found a place to turn around somewhere near the gushing Kårdalsfossen Waterfall.
And at that point, we headed back to Flåm though our progress on the way out was made slower due to the difficulty we had in passing pedestrians and mountain bikers on the narrow road.
We never made it up to Kjosfossen or “Myrdalsfossen” by car as that stretch required hiking the path between Blomheller and Myrdal.
And this included the scenic Myrdalsvingene as well as a possible alternate or more distant view of Kjosfossen.
While I had all the intention of doing this walk when we returned to Norway in 2019, bad weather and late start meant I’ll have to wait for the next opportunity to finally do this.
In order to access the Flam Railway, we first had to get to the town of Flåm.
Because the town was such a well-known destination, you can use any number of routing apps or software to help you at least get to the town from wherever you’re at.
In order to better manage the high traffic in the area, to get to the sentrum of Flåm from the E16, we had to take a signed exit to the west of the bridge over Flåmselvi (the main river through Flåm Valley).
It then took us to a well-signed four-way intersection, where we went left to go to the sentrum.
Not that going straight at the intersection would have led us on the road going deep into Flåmsdalen, while going right would have taken us to the Brekke Farm.
We then went straight along the river for about 800m (the last 200m beyond a small “exit” bridge was one-way to help keep traffic moving along).
We then turned right to cross a bigger bridge before hanging another right just past this bridge.
The main public car park right at the sentrum, train station, and boat docks was just another 100m further.
In order to leave the sentrum, we would take the small bridge going back across the river then go left on the other side of it (one-way signs will ensure you do this anyways).
For geographical context, Flåm was about 15km (about 15 minutes drive) south of Aurland, 20km (under 30 minutes drive) east of Gudvangen, 41km (over 30 minutes drive) south of Lærdal, 66km (an hour drive) northeast of Voss, about 72km (an hour drive) southwest of Årdalstangen, 284km (over 3.5 hours drive with a ferry crossing) northeast of Bergen, and 312km (over 5 hours drive) northwest of Oslo.