I grew up in the mountains, but they do not compare to these beautiful mountains in Austria. While still in the planning stages of my travels, the mighty Dachstein sounded intimidating. Standing at 2995 meters high, and being named a UNESCO world heritage site, I just could not talk myself out of it.
The tour I decided on was a total of 11 nights. The most we walked in one day was 7 hours/ 26 km. This sounds like a lot but when you are actually doing the walking, while being immersed in the culture and taking in the amazing panoramic views, time does not move slowly enough and the days fly by. The landscapes are rugged and rocky; the alpine pastures are a shade of green unlike I have ever seen; there are bizarre, jagged crags; towers and mighty cliff faces scatter the hills; glacial ice, limestone peaks, isolated high plateaus, virgin forests and scenic mountaintops blanket the landscapes and offer unique excursion opportunities along the way.
Day 1: Gosau
Day 2: Gosau to Hofpurgl Lodge 10km, 4-5hours
Day 3: Hofpurgl Lodge to Ramsau 12.5km, 6hours
Day 4: Relax day in Ramsau
Day 5: Ramsau to Guttenberg lodge 9.5km, 4-5hours
Day 6: Guttenberg lodge to Steiner Haus 13km, 6hours
Day 7: Steiner Haus to Steinitzenalm lodge 17km, 6hours
Day 8: Steinitzenalm to Hallstatt 26km, 7hours
Day 9: Dachstein adventure world
Day 10: Hallstatt to Goiserer lodge 17.5km, 7hours
Day 11: Goiserer lodge to Gosau 7km, 2-3hours
Day 12: Individual departure or additional nights
Gosau looks like a perfectly painted picture. The town is stunning with green pastures at the foothill of the cliffy mountains. At the southern end of the city, there is a glassy lake that perfectly reflects every surrounding picturesque landscape. Leaving this beautiful place was hard, I felt like there was still so much to do and see. We then went on our way to Hofpurgl Lodge where we spent the night.
Next stop was in Ramsau, where we had a relaxing day before we started walking again. What we opted to do on our free day in Ramsau is sit by the pleasant little lake beach. It was not very warm, but it was tranquil. Food and drink are offered there as well, which is always a positive. Ramsau has a cable car leading up to the Dachstein glacier. On top of the Dachstein, there is a year-round resort for Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowboarding. The following morning, we embarked on a high altitude hike from Guttenberg lodge over the plateau “Am Stein” and Grafenbergalm to the Stoderzinken. Our accommodation was at the Steiner Haus above Gröbming.
The next day was one of my favourites because we had the unique opportunity to pass the Notgasse; a rock gorge with up to 2000 year old chiselled rock paintings. That really might be one of the coolest things I have ever seen, seeing the work of people who lived that long ago. After seeing this, we continued on to the Viehbergalm and further over the Hochmühleck to the Steinitzenalm, ending there for the night.
Day 8 was fun—we started in Steinitzenalm, continued past the beautiful Ödensee Lake to Bad Aussee. We then passed through the Koppen valley to the Koppenbruellerhoehle Cave where we received an awesome guided tour. Our guided tour was so fun, we all had to wear hard hats and they brought us through the dark nooks and crannies. After the tour we trekked onto Obertraun where we caught a ferry to Hallstatt, our home for the night.
We wake to a fun day planned for us; a tour through the mammoth and ice caves which are said to be the highest ice caves in the world and have jaw dropping stalagmites and stalactites then we visited the “Five Fingers” viewing platform, a platform that jets out over the cliffs providing amazing panoramic views of the mountains and lakes. Our life saver was having unlimited use of all three parts of the Krippenstein cable car. It enabled us to get around and see all the amazing views from the sky. We ended the night with another overnight in Hallstatt.
One of the days that felt the longest was Day 10. We began by talking the Salzberg funicular railway from Hallstatt Lahn to the entrance of the salt mine “Hallstätter Salzwelten.” This unique place taught us all about the history of Hallstatt being a salt town and the town’s heavy reliance on salt-mining. After continuing on the trail, we continued onto Goiserer lodge, where we spent the night. Waking up the next morning knowing our trip was quickly wrapping up was extremely difficult. We began our decent, passing the Iglmoosalm and ending in Gosau. Day 12 was departure day and I could not stop smiling thinking of everything I had seen and done and all the amazing new people I had met along the way.