Langfoss (literally pronounced and translated like “Long Falls”) was a powerful cascading waterfall that tumbled down almost the entire length of a mountainside before spilling into the Åkra Fjord (Åkrafjorden; “OH-kra-feeord-un”).
According to the literature, it was said to be 612m tall making it one of the tallest waterfalls in Norway as well as in the world.
And from looking at the maps, I noticed that there were numerous lakes as well as a large catchment for snowpack where they ultimately would drain over the falls providing its year-round flow.
In the Norwegian language, the definite article “the” tends to be tacked onto the end of the word.
Depending on the gender (as well as the plurality) of the word, the ending could be “-en”, “-et”, “-a”, “-ene”, or ‘-ai”.
Langfoss was one waterfall where it seemed to be just as common to refer to it without the definite article as with it.
In other words, it could be called Langfossen just like with most of the other waterfalls in the country.
In fact, when I first looked up the Statens Kartverk map for the area (Norgeskart, formerly Norgesglasset), they still refered to this waterfall as Langfoss.
I adopted this convention when I first did this writeup, and I’m sticking with it.
But regardless of whether you use Langfossen or just Langfoss, it’s just a mere technicality.
I’ve observed this with a few other Norwegian waterfalls as well so I’ll just point those out to avoid confusion.
Experiencing Langfossen from a distance
Julie and I were able to view this waterfall from a couple of different choice spots.
The first view (as seen in the photo above) was from a bus stop along the E134 highway providing a panoramic view of both the Åkrafjord and Langfoss.
From this vantage point, we could see the falls dwarf some of the structures near its base.
This provided some visual clues as to its overall size (as well as its magnitude and grandeur).
By the way, that bus stop came in handy because it allowed us to momentarily get out of the car and out of the way of traffic.
That way, we could soak in the scene without too much stress (see directions below).
For such a superior view of the waterfall, I found it very surprising that they didn’t dedicate a lookout or pullout for it.
Over the visits that Julie and I had made here (in 2005 and 2019), we had to resort to finding those bus stops to take advantage of the open panorama!
Experiencing Langfossen from its base
The other (and more obvious) way we saw the falls was from near its base.
There was a large well-signed car park where we spent some time trying to appreciate the size of the falls from up close.
I recalled it was even spraying the road (or at least the bridge spanning its watercourse), which kind of gave our rental car a bit of a car wash on our first visit back in June 2005.
On our most recent visit in June 2019, we spotted a ramp that descended below the car park towards a series of picnic tables as well as some interesting rock exhibit.
While the views of Langfossen seemed awkward at best from down here, we did enjoy the views across Åkrafjorden.
We especially noticed the interesting mix of freshwater from the waterfall mixing with the saltwater in the fjord.
Towards the end of this picnic area, we spotted some steps descending all the way to the shores of the fjord, which I’d imagine would have been the spot for a boat launch.
I had read from the signs here that cruises of the fjord were possible, and I’d imagine the best frontal views of the falls would come from there.
Langfoss was unregulated and was allowed to flow wildly. This was definitely apparent during our first visit in June 2005.
However, on that first visit, I had read a sign near its base saying that there were plans to develop hydroelectric schemes that would impact the behavior of the falls.
I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that this waterfall would be targeted for harnessing hydro power given its voluminous flow.
Despite there being some local opposition to such efforts (according to the same sign), the ever-increasing energy demands and implications to the local economy can’t be ignored.
So who knows when this gorgeous waterfall might be sacrificed like many of the country’s other majestic waterfalls?
When we came back to Langfoss in 2019, that particular sign was no longer there.
So we don’t know whether they regulated this waterfall or not, but the lack of power lines in the immediate area seemed to suggest that such plans were either delayed or shelved.
More locally, the car park at the base of Langfoss would be on the left side of the E134 about 35km (30 minutes drive) from Etne.
The bus stops with the nice panoramas of Langfoss would be on either side of the E134 just under 2km east of the car park at the waterfall’s base.
Going in the other direction, the bus stops with the nice panoramas of the waterfall would be on either side of the E134 roughly 19km west of Skare.
The car park at the base of the waterfall would be on the right side of the E134 about 2km further.
For some geographical context, Odda is 17km (under 30 minutes drive) north of Skare, 42km (about 45 minutes drive) north of Røldal, 72km (about 1 hour drive) northeast of Etne, 132km (about 2 hours drive) northeast of Haugesund, 134km (about 3 hours drive with a ferry crossing) east of Bergen, 179km (over 3 hours drive with some ferry crossings) north of Stavanger, 303km (under 5 hours drive) west of Drammen, and 323km (about 5 hours drive) west of Oslo.
Strange Toll Station Positioning
Back in on our first visit in June 2005, Julie and I approached Langfossen from the east along the E134.
It turned out that they positioned a toll station right before the base of the waterfall (just to the east of it).
So we actually had to pass through that toll station on the way to the car park.
Then, we had to pass through it again on the way back east (since we weren’t continuing to go west on that trip).
In other words, we had to pay this toll twice!
Given how expensive things were in Norway, that certainly didn’t help with our travel expenses!
When we came back in June 2019, it seemed like almost all of the toll stations were automated.
In other words, they have automatically-triggered cameras that would capture your license plate, and they’d bill you (or your rental company) after the fact.
Nevertheless, I didn’t recall if that toll station still remained at that spot (automatic or not), but if so, then I’m sure the double charge still applies!
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