"Magic Moments" as guided day programmes

Summer takes hold of the Carinthian lakes and mountains like a warm hand. Austria’s southernmost province has its prettiest summer dress on with extra special nature experiences in store for 2020. 18 "Magic Moments" can be booked across 11 Carinthian nature reserves within this picture book setting, leading guests back to the basics and into a world of wonder under expert guidance. Far from mass tourism, man and nature become one. Here are three highlights of the programme that runs from May to September.

Adventurous hikes, tasks that require a fair bit of teamwork and Carinthia’s show stopping element of water rounded off with local Alpe-Adria cuisine guarantee unforgettable moments for all senses. What distinguishes all programmes is that they are led with great consideration for the protected fauna and flora and have been certified by a special committee. This ensures that all experiences are held in harmony with and in the best interest of nature.

Slow Food between mountains and valley: the "Bread and Jause Trail"

The Lesachtal lies to the far southwest of the province amidst the peaks of the Carnic Alps and the Lienz Dolomites where the River Gail has dug its way into a deep gorge. Over the centuries, its exposed position has created a unique kind of people that takes pride in itself and its produce. The friendly, open locals and their culinary specialities can be experienced along the "Bread and Jause Trail". "Geamo morenden!" (Let’s go for a Jause!) is what the Lesachtaler say when they head out on a graze, and it is precisely this "Morenden" that hikers can sample along the culinary trail.

The moderately difficult but always delightful path leads from a hearty Brettljause with mountain cheese produced right there on the Steineckenalm across the Stockplattln to a local Christmas treat at the Mühlenstüberl and even homemade Schlipfkrapfen (ravioli-like parcels). At each station the hosts enjoy talking about the tradition of their food, how it is made and why it could have been classified as Slow Food even before the term existed. The warmth and hospitality of the people between Liesing, St. Lorenzen and Obergail confirms the old saying: "The rougher the peaks the more open the hearts!"

"Petri Heil!" in the nature reserve Pöllatal

In the Pöllatal near Rennweg, to the far east of the Hohe Tauern, you will find the Lieser, a rather young mountain stream with a wealth of inhabitants. The journey there – for little Petrijünger (anglers) in particular - is an experience in itself. A nostalgic train takes you through the Pöllatal at an impressive pace, past rustic mountain huts, tranquil barbecue spots and open forests. Under expert guidance and with a bit of skill and patience, everyone will soon have made a catch.

The rush of the mountain stream allows participants to pause and reduces awareness of every little tug at the rod. And we wouldn’t be in Carinthia if the excursion didn’t end with a feast. The appropriately named Kochlöfflhütte (wooden spoon hut) is idyllically situated at the edge of the forest, where the freshly caught fish are placed on the barbecue and enjoyed around a crackling campfire. The delicious meal is worked off on the way back along the stream adventure trail that brings the treasures of the nature reserve alive for all senses.

Helping mow the mountain pastures in the Nockberge Biosphere Reserve

Mountain farmers don’t just ensure that passing hikers are fed and watered: they are first and foremost landscape designers. Without regular mowing, the juicy pastures would soon be taken over by scrub. Scythe instructor Thomas shows us just how much skill is required when living and working on the steep slopes of the Nockberge Biosphere Reserve. The short hike to the Striedingerhof high up in Innerkrems gets the circulation going.

First it’s vocabulary lessons, learning all about words such as "sharpening" to guarantee a good cut. Just like dancing, mowing requires the right swing, which is practised before heading out onto the pastures. It doesn’t take long to feel comfortable in the role of a landscaper, with freshly cut grass and herbs filling the air. And it is precisely these that are put to use when your work is done and Chef Elisabeth serves up a traditional "Måderkost". Home cooking tastes even better when you have quite literally earnt it. As you take a bite of homemade bread your gaze wanders out to the valley filled with light. 

Weather today, 12. July 2020