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   Sogn Og Fjordane, Norway

This waterfall has been surveyed, mapped and measured in person by the World Waterfall Database.
Photo of Kjelfossen Thanks to its proximity and visibility to the end of Norway’s famous and sublimely scenic Nærøyfjord, Kjelfossen has been among the most well known of the world’s true “tall” waterfalls for centuries. The falls have been cited and referenced in countless encyclopedias and almanacs over the years and were discussed in Edward Rashleigh’s 1935 book “Among the Waterfalls of the World”, thought to be the first major publication dedicated to the subject. Flowing from several modest lakes perched high up on the plateau above the fjord, Kjelfossen drops a total of about 2,313 feet (705m) in several steps, with a sheer leap of over 650 feet at the top of the falls. As the main fall drops to the valley floor, so to does a parallel stream with a fall of nearly equal height and likewise a sheer drop of over 650 feet. Individually these two streams have been labeled as Stor (Big) and Vetle (Little) Kjelfoss respectively, but for all intents and purposes are two segments of the same waterfall. A third, unnamed stream also streams down the adjoining cliff in a long horsetailing fall.

Kjelfossen is known for its height much more so than its volume (which is not terribly considerable), but references to the exact height of the falls have been quite varied over the years. Many early sources cite the falls as standing a total of 1,847 feet in all, and some claim this to be in a single, uninterrupted fall (which is simply not the case). Other sources have suggested a height of as much as 2,756 feet – a figure which would have to take into account the talus cascades below the actual bottom of the falls down to the confluence with the Nærøyelva at the valley floor. We had previously estimated the height to be about 2,475 feet, but have re-examined the topographic maps after surveying the falls in person and have re-adjusted our estimate to just over 2,300 feet accordingly.

Though the small drainage area which feeds into Kjelfossen precludes significant volume throughout the year, during the spring and early summer months when snow is melting and rain is falling consistently, Kjelfossen is a rather impressive waterfall. By late autumn it will be diminished considerably without consistent rain and may effectively freeze dry during the winter.


  • Also Known as: Kjelsfossen, Kjellsfossen, Kilefossen, Keilfossen
  • Kjelfossen is the Official name of this waterfall

Once again thanks to the pronunciation found in the Norwegian language, this waterfall has held several variations in the spelling of its name. Kjelfossen is proper (pronounced “Shell-fossen”), but Kjels, Kjells, Kile, Keel and Keil have also been used as prefixes at some point or another.

Our thoughts

While nowhere near as powerful or grand as many of Norway’s other waterfall, Kjelfossen’s great height and immensely simple accessibility among a major tourist destination makes it a waterfall of global significance that can (and should) be sought out by any who visit the area.

Location and directions

Kjelfossen is found immediately southeast of the small town of Gudvangen along the E16 at the head of the Nærøyfjord and can be easily seen from the highway for a stretch of nearly 2km.

Kjelfossen is shown in the center. Additional nearby waterfalls (if any) can be found in the list below.

Additional Nearby Waterfalls

Name of Waterfall Distance
Kjerrskredfossen 1.16 mi / 1.86 km


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Photography tips

Because of the way the falls drop into its alcove, there is no way to see the entirety of all three segments from any single position, so its necessary to shoot the falls from several places along the E16 to see the entire falls. Kjelfossen faces more or less northwest and the entire falls will see direct sun during the afternoon hours.

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