Coordinates: 47°40′46″N 8°36′59″E
It puzzles me that an amazingly beautiful place that has inspired poets and artists could be described as a geographical accident. But this is the way in which geologists describe processes that change the Earth. The Rhine Falls, as other famous waterfalls, like Niagara Falls and those in Iguazú, formed through a declivity in the waters’ course combined with gravity, what caused a vertical fall. But when you are there, so close you feel them sprinkle, the word accident evaporates by the sheer force with which its current dominates your senses.
Following its course
Two Summers ago, I visited Lake Toma, the source of the Rhine River. A tour that took me up seven thousand feet! After having seen the calm natural pool where it was born, imagine my impression upon seen it turned into the biggest waterfall in Europe! Waters that cover a surface measuring a hundred and fifty meters wide and twenty-three meters high and fall down into a basin, thirteen meters deep.
A natural spectacle
For years, the Falls’ natural spectacle has attracted tourists from every corner of the world to the town of Neuhausen in Switzerland; and why they offer alternatives for every type of tourist. The photographers can capture beautiful moments while on a peaceful walk. The adventurous can take the boat excursion that brings them to the rock, climb it and feel the water splash up close. Practical ones can do the short boat excursion without climbing the rock. Families can also visit the suspended ropes’ park next to the Falls. Culture enthusiasts can include a visit to the medieval cities of Schaffhausen and Stein am Rhein. However all tourists have to, besides sitting in a bench for a while to see and hear the current, visit the museum that gathers its history.
School, hotel and museum
The Laufen Castle, which dates back to 1123 approximately, used to belong to the Church of Constance, a German city on the other side of the Falls. After several proprietor's changes (like the city of Zürich and the painter Louis Bleuler) and purposes (art school and hotel), the Castle now houses an interesting interactive museum. The rooms, with animated pictures and audio-visual effects, allow the visitor to visualize the history of the Castle and of the Falls in an extremely entertaining way.
Hydraulic force or natural beauty
These Falls are not the first place where industry and nature confront one another. Through the years, several companies presented projects to construct turbines and even a dam, what involved a heightened use of its waters. It was not until 1983 when the desire to preserve this marvel managed to close the discussion. That year the Falls received full protection and were named natural monument of national importance.
I’ll be back
I have been here four times and the Rhine Falls always win my heart. Every time one of my Puerto Rican friends visits, I suggest we go and allow my tourist self to be astonished again by this phenomenal geographical accident.
Conscious Travel Practices:
1. Drink water from the faucet to control plastic bottle production.
2. Choose to visit places in close contact with nature.
3. Support local guesthouses and businesses.
4. Conserve water at guesthouses.
5. Learn about the importance of water as a resource.