The Magic Pools Of Oberstaufen: Buchenegger Wasserfälle

In the South-West of Bavaria is one of the most spectacular places of the Northern Alps located: The Buchenegger Wasserfälle with two huge turquoise pools of water and a strong waterfall of crystal clear water. It is really an impressing sight and an unforgettable experience.

The Buchenegger Waterfall is a wonderful motive for any photographer. Of course, on weekends during summer there are a lot of people around. This is because it’s not only something to watch but there is a five-meters deep pool where people can swim. Most of them, however, leave quickly since even in July and August the water is pretty cold. Furthermore, there are courageous young people who do a 30metre high jump from above the waterfall. It is a bit like Acapulco.

The Buchenegger Wasserfälle is part of an impressing canyon of the river Weissach. The Weissach river is coming from the Hochgrat-Mountain and cascades between two villages Buchenegg and Steibis. Further down the river reaches Oberstaufen, which is a famous and excellent tourist location. There are many hotels and attractions there. The landscape isn’t usually as dramatic as in other parts of the Bavarian Alps. Therefore the canyon of the Weissach and the Buchenegger Wasserfälle is an extreme contrast adding to an unforgettable experience.

Oberstaufen can be reached by train or by car. The trains commute frequently. Oberstaufen is located in the West of the Allgäu not far from Kempten and the Bodensee. It is also close to the Austrian border.




There are two paths leading to the Buchenegger Wasserfälle. One path begins near the parking-space in Buchenegg (a very narrow mountain road is leading there and it is crowded on some days – thus it is not recommended particularly for drivers who are not experienced to drive in mountain areas. Better use the parking spots in Steibis on the other side). There is another reason for this particularly for people who are not experienced hikers. The path is in very good shape but it is very steep. If you are afraid of heights or don’t feel safe walking in such rocky areas use the path coming from Steibis. This is much shorter and is most of the time an easy walk.

You can also use the bus from Oberstaufen to Steibis. The path begins near the stop “Berggaststätte Hirsch”. Before the path enters the canyon, there are two lovely farmed alps. One of them is the Alm Neugreuth, the other is the Alpe Neugschwend. These are very good places to rest and grab some tasty food before hiking down the canyon.

 


Entering the canyon is deeply impressing from the first moment. It is not only the white waters, the cliffs and the waterfall: There is a primaeval forest growing inside the canyon with a huge variety of trees and plants. This adds to the scenery and offers much more attractive motives.

The best time for catching the fantastic atmosphere is during summer even there are a lot of people around. The morning hours are a convenient time to do pictures because it isn’t so much crowded early in the day.

There are a few things to keep in mind when you want to do pictures of the waterfall and the pool: Your camera will often pointing southwards. Thus, in the middle of the day there is backlighting and strong contrast. Furthermore if you get closer to the waterfall or the wind gets stronger there is a misty spray of the waterfall. It happens easily that there are tiny droplets on the lens. Therefore it is good to always check the camera and clean the lens. Of course be careful because the terrain can be slippery.

Die zauberhaften Gumpen von Oberstaufen: Buchenegger Wasserfälle

Im Südwesten von Bayern findet sich einer der spektakulärsten Plätze in den nördlichen Alpen: Die Buchenegger Wasserfälle mit zwei großen türkisfarbenen Gebirgswasserbecken (Gumpen) und einem mächtigen Wasserfall mit kristallklarem Wasser. Sie sind ein imponierender Anblick und ein unvergessliches Erlebnis.

Die Buchenegger Wasserfälle sind ein hervorragendes Fotomotiv. Selbstverständlich ist man dort am Wochenende nicht allein. Das liegt nicht nur daran, dass es etwas zu sehen gibt, sondern an einem fünf Meter tiefen Wasserbecken, in dem man auch schwimmen kann. Allerdings verlassen die meisten diesen Naturpool schnell wieder, denn auch im Juli und August ist das reine Gebirgswasser ziemlich frisch. Dazu kommen noch einige mutige junge Leute, die die Tradition des Gumpenjuckens pflegen: Sie springen aus Höhen von bis zu 30 Meter in den Pool. Es liegt ein Gefühl von Acapulco in der Luft.

Die Buchenegger Wasserfälle sind Teil eines beeindruckenden Tals, das der Fluß Weißach in den Fels geschnitten hat. Die Weißach kommt aus der Gegend des Hochgrats und fließt zwischen den Orten Buchenegg und Steibis den Berg hinunter. Weiter unten erreicht der Fluß Oberstaufen, einen hervorragenden und sehr bekannten Tourismus-Ort. Es gibt dort zahlreiche Hotels und Attraktionen. Die Landschaft ist hier eigentlich nicht so dramatisch wie in manchen anderen Teilen der Bayerischen Alpen. Deshalb ist der steile Canyon, in dem die Weißach fließt, ein überraschender Kontrast und trägt so zu einem unvergesslichen Bergerlebnis bei.

Oberstaufen kann man mit dem Zug oder mit dem Auto erreichen. Die Züge verkehren häufig. Es liegt im westlichen Allgäu nicht weit von Kempten und vom Bodensee. Auch die österreichische Grenze ist in direkter Nähe.



Es gibt zwei Wege, die zu den Buchenegger Wasserfällen führen. Ein Pfad beginnt am Parkplatz oberhalb von Buchenegg (eine sehr enge Bergstraße führt dort hinauf, wo es zudem oft schnell voll ist – deshalb kann diese Route insbesondere für bergunerfahrene Autofahrer nicht empfohlen werden. Besser man sucht sich einen Parkplatz im gegenüberliegenden Ort Steibis). Es gibt einen weiteren Grund dafür, besonders für wenig erfahrene Wanderer: Der Pfad von Buchenegg ist zwar in einem hervorragenden Zustand, aber sehr steil. Wenn man nicht trittsicher in abschüssigem Gelände oder nicht schwindelfrei ist, sollte man unbedingt den Wanderweg nehmen, der von Steibis kommt. Dieser ist kürzer und die meiste Zeit leicht zu gehen.

Man kann von Oberstaufen auch den Bus nach Steibis nehmen und bei der Haltestelle “Berggaststätte Hirsch” aussteigen. Bevor dieser schöne Wanderweg die Schlucht erreicht, kommt man an zwei sehr idyllischen Almen vorbei. Eine von ihnen ist die Neugreuth Alm, die andere ist die Neugschwend Alpe. Sie eignen sich hervorragend als Rastplatz vor dem Abstieg und man bekommt dort sehr gutes Essen.

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Der Weg in die Schlucht ist vom ersten Augenblick an sehr beeindruckend. Es ist nicht nur der wilde Fluß, die felsigen Abhänge und der Wasserfall, die dieses Erlebnis prägen. Im Tal existiert bis heute ein urwaldähnlicher Bergwald mit einer Vielzahl von Baumarten und Pflanzen. Dieser Wald trägt zur unvergleichlichen Szenerie bei und bietet weitere attraktive Motive.

Die beste Zeit, diese fantastische Atmosphäre einzufangen, ist im Sommer, auch wenn da viele Leute unterwegs sind. Die Morgenstunden sind dabei immer noch eine günstige Zeit, da es dann noch nicht so voll dort ist.

Wer dort fotografieren will, sollte ein paar Sachen beachten: Steht man vor der großen Gumpe mit dem Wasserfall ist die Kamera nach Süden gerichtet. Man hat also harte Kontraste und Gegenlicht. Außerdem geht vom großen Wasserfall ein feiner Sprühfilm aus, besonders wenn es windig ist. Man hat schnell feine Wassertropfen auf dem Objektiv. Daher empfiehlt es sich, intensiv die Linse zu checken und zu reinigen. Schließlich ist wichtig, auf den Untergrund zu achten, da es hier und dort rutschig sein kann.

March 3, 2018: Partnach Gorge

When the “Beast From The East”, the arctic cold in the second half of February 2018, loosened its grip on middle Europe I immediately thought of realizing a plan I had already the previous year: visiting the Partnach Gorge near Garmisch Partenkirchen. The famous gorge is a great destination in winter-time because of the fantastic world of ice with frozen waterfalls and curtains of ice. It is a natural monument since 1912 and is visited by many guests every year.

Last year the gorge was closed when I was there because when temperatures rise huge chunks of ice come down and it is too dangerous to let visitors walk through the 700 meters long gorge. An owner of a restaurant close to the gorge told me when the giant icicles are thundering down and fall into the canyon everything is shaking in the house when they hit the rocky bottom. It must feel like an earthquake. Sometimes the trail needs a lot of repairs. There are unimaginable forces at work and in former times this was a feared place. The gorge is a monument of untamed nature and demands respect. Very close to the city of Garmisch-Partenkirchen wilderness begins.

This year I was lucky and the cold temperatures had done a great job. The gorge was a palace of ice. It was one of the more positive sides of the arctic cold.

I knew I had to act fast or I would have to wait for the next winter. After the extreme cold, temperatures on Saturday were rising in Southern-Germany, since there was an inflow of warm air from Northern-Spain. The direction of the wind was changing.

 

The gorge is a 25minutes walk from the Olympic Skiing Stadium in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. As soon as you enter this wonder of nature it is like being in some Tolkien-setting from “The Lord Of The Rings”.
 

Stock photography by Peter Engelmann at AlamyStock photography by Peter Engelmann at Alamy

Words fail to describe the fantastic experience. Like the Breitach Gorge, there is a trail allowing visitors experience the dramatic atmosphere of the raging river and the close wet rock faces.
Mountain Warehouse

But the ice curtains, the interplay of frozen water and snow make it a unique experience during the winter time.

Particularly on the first 100 and 200 meters of the walk, there were some impressive sights. The trail is close to the river Partnach and there is a chance to study the ice-sculptures.

 

For most of the year, everybody gets wet when walking through the gorge, because there are springs everywhere and there is always water coming down. Thus you can see these fantastic curtains of ice when the water, which normally rains down is freezing.

 

The Partnach Gorge is offering a huge variety of great motives for pictures. There are not only the big panoramas but also many details in this “palace of ice”. Of course, sometimes you have to share the trail with many other photographers. Thus it is good to start not too late in the morning.

At certain points of the trail, the Partnach Gorge reminds me also of the famous ice-caves in Austria like the “Eisriesenwelt”. When walking through the narrow parts of the gorge there is only little light. If you want to take pictures a tripod is now extremely helpful.

The special experience of the Partnach Gorge is created through the change of very narrow parts and the parts where it is widening.

There is a special magic of these curtains of frozen water. In some places, it seems there would be a green glow on the ice adding to the otherworldliness of this special atmosphere inside the gorge.




Getting closer to the end of the gorge, there was sunlight coming in. This created another kind of experience and an even more enchanted situation.

The Partnach Gorge can be reached easily from Garmisch Partenkirchen, Bavaria, Germany. From the train station, there is a city bus going to the Olympic Skiing Stadium. There are also horse coaches. There was also an announcement that there are guided night-tours with torches.

The gorge is also a starting point for many hiking tours into the highest mountains of Germany. Alpine cabins and farmed alps are not far.

As said before sometimes the Partnach Gorge needs to be closed when the ice is melting. Thus it is always good to check before (partnachklamm.eu).

At any time of the year, it’s very important to have sturdy shoes and sturdy clothes. The trail is in very good shape but of course, such places can be always slippery or muddy. If you plan to do pictures it is good to have enough time since the trail is a narrow path. Often there are many hikers and tourists walking through the gorge in both directions and you need to wait for a quiet moment to set up equipment.

Furthermore, think of not only some rain-clothes but also about some water-protection for the camera particularly in summer.

During winter sunlight is limited inside the gorge since it is a deep canyon. When I was there, 10.00-11.00 seemed a good time for some sunlight in the last section of the gorge.

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Breitachklamm Gorge, Germany/Austria – May 27, 2017

Wild nature in a fascinating way – this is the Breitachklamm near Oberstdorf, Bavaria, in the Allgäu mountains: A winding river through a wide gorge. Situated in the lovely Kleinwalsertal this is the deepest canyon in Central Europe.

Thanks to a tremendous effort of volunteers tourists can experience this wonder of nature not far from civilization. After early explorations in the late 19th century a village priest, Johannes Schiebel started the project of a path in the canyon in 1904-05. It was a courageous thing to do in the wild gorge which has a length of 2,8 kilometers and which was feared in earlier times as “Hell Canyon”.

Today it has become easily accessible with a huge parking space and a frequent bus connection between the main station in Oberstdorf and the entry building where you can buy your tickets. During summer its recommended to arrive early or to use the bus since a lot of people are coming.

The gorge is also very interesting for anybody who is interested in weather and climate. In these mountains, there is a distinct micro-climate with a lot of rain over the year. Not far from the Breitachklamm is Balderschwang, which is a record keeper in annual rainfall.

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On the other side, the climate appears to be moderate, and there is an excellent air quality.

Moos on trees shows that there is no pollution and a wet climate.

There is an incredible variety of the vegetation. Nevertheless, its surprising how many plants grew in the extreme conditions of the gorge. Shortly after the entry, there is a “vertical forest” before the canyon becomes more and more narrow.

The gorge is a product of the last ice age. The river carved its own bed deep into the hard dolomite rock. Even there are many tourists and the path is strongly secured you feel a bit intimidated when the rock walls become narrower and narrower. Here we always will be temporary guests. Nature rules. This is how explorers must feel if they enter an unknown world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Huge chunks of rock are lying around. In spring a lot of water runs through the gorge and huge trees are left there. In 1995 a landslide happened and a mass of rocks came down and blocked the river. It ended in a huge flood. The path was destroyed and later restored. Floods after torrential rain or when the snow melts are always a potential danger for the path.

 

Of course, the gorge offers a lot for photographers and filmmakers. It’s also a great inspiration. Since there are a lot of visitors on weekends perhaps a rainy day or a visit in winter when water is transformed into giant ice sculptures could be interesting alternatives.

You should check before if the gorge is open for visitors since they need to close it for security reasons under certain conditions of weather: http://www.breitachklamm.com/

The visit of the Breitach gorge is also a good start for a bigger tour – there are many trails around which lead either back to the parking lot or another bus station or to many managed alms. At the end of the gorge, the valley is more open and you reach a lovely river bed with the mountains in the background. It looks a bit like the Rocky Mountains in a typical western setting.