My Alpine Adventure
20 March 2018
Kitzbühel is a small Alpine town located in the western Austrian province of Tyrol. It is a popular winter resort, well known for the annual ski race down Hahnenkamm, but did you know it is also an ideal place for a walking holiday during the warmer months?
The Tyrolean Alps are a walker’s paradise with breathtaking views, wide alpine pastures, rolling grass hills, colourful flowers and impressive waterfalls. In May 2017, I had the opportunity to experience the appeal of the Tyrolean Alps myself as I set off on TD active’s Kitzbuhel Austrian Walking Holiday.
I met our local guide, Gabor, and the rest of the group at the arrivals hall in Munich airport and from there we took a scenic drive out of Germany and into Austria, arriving in Kitzbühel in the afternoon. That evening before dinner we had an orientation meeting with Gabor, and our expert Mountain Guide, Andreas. Andreas discussed the type of walks we would be experiencing over the next few days, and the level of fitness required, giving everyone in the group the opportunity to decide which walking level would be best suited to their abilities.
For our first walking day, the majority of the group chose to go with the challenging walk, while others opted for the moderate option. Both groups covered a similar distance of approximately 13km, but the moderate group experienced more flat terrain while the challenging group climbed more hills. I myself chose the challenging option and thoroughly enjoyed it. While, at first, the weather did not seem ideal, it did not dampen our spirits and, despite the rain, the mood was still high. The light mist did not take away from the stunning scenery. If anything, it made the landscape more mystical and gave us the unique feeling of walking up into the clouds.
We walked along the Strief, which is considered to be one of the most challenging downhill ski slopes in the world. Andreas explained how when skiing on this spectacular race track speeds of 145kmph can be reached. When one member of the group remarked, “That is faster than the legal driving speed limit in Ireland!” it really put into perspective how death-defying the Streif can be. We continued our walk towards Schwarzsee Lake and then began to tackle the rolling green hills of the Bichlachs. We ventured through some forest terrain and along wooden paths before reaching an elevation of 2,875 feet and our picnic lunch stop for the day.
After lunch, we made our way down through the hills, enjoying a quick coffee stop at a quaint guesthouse en route. We finished our walk by paying a visit to a small miner’s chapel that was built in the 1700s. It had handmade pine pews, beautiful ceiling decorations and our full group just about fit inside to admire the interior!
For our second day of walking, we travelled a short distance by coach to Grießbachklamm. We began the morning in a gorge, exploring our surroundings on a combination of timber paths, rope bridges and stone trails. It is not unusual to encounter snow in the Alps in May, and during our walk, Andreas pointed out where some avalanche snow had fallen. Once out of the gorge, we had the option to split up for a challenging walk or a moderate option. The challenging group would begin an ascent through the forest climbing 1,640 feet in order to reach some tranquil meadows. So that day everyone in the group decided to go with the challenging walk. The higher you go, the better the view - right?
Well, the effort was certainly worth it. After 1 hour of steady climbing, we began to see the trees make way to rolling green landscapes. Standing at 3,937 feet above sea level and taking in the fresh mountain air against the stunning alpine backdrop was an amazing feeling. We enjoyed our picnic lunch in the garden of an Alpine guesthouse. We continued a little higher to get a group photo at a hill marked by a cross before embarking on the descent back down through the forest. By the time we made it back to our coach, we had covered approximately 14kms over a 5 hour period.
Some might think that embarking on a walking holiday seems a little too strenuous for a “holiday”. But, as someone who loves the outdoors, I can tell you that the sense of accomplishment and adventure you feel at the end of a walk in the Alps is something you cannot get simply laying by the pool on a typical sun holiday! What better way is there to get to know a destination than exploring it by foot and getting the chance to interact with locals along the way?
If you want to embark on your own Alpine adventure check out our range of Austrian walking holidays.
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