My first ever walking holiday in Mayrhofen was a memorable one. Stunning views, great weather, an awakening to the beauty of Zillertaler krapfen… Plus a mudslide and a little bit of unanticipated hitch-hiking.
We set off on our first walk using the instructions given to us by the wonderful Christina , our hotelier. The plan was to get a bus to Ginzburg and then walk up to the reservoir, before following the path round to ‘Little Tibet‘. We could then walk back down, pick up some krapfen and head home.
We got on the bus and immediately made a rookie mistake about where it was that we were meant to get off. Instead of exiting the bus at Ginzburg, we went all the way up to the dam, thereby cutting out the ascent. Oh well!
I also had a very un-nostalgic reminder of what it was to experience travel sickness. Mountain buses drive rather quickly along steep, winding roads – something that did not agree with me and my breakfast. Fortunately I made it to the end of the journey.
Stepping off the bus on to the sun-bathed dam wall was incredible. The view across the reservoir was particularly impressive, especially with the sunshine making the water sparkle.
We set off on the path that curved around the reservoir towards Little Tibet, and found ourselves out of breath. Embarrassing! Fortunately, as the week went on, this breathlessness vanished. It must have been due to the sudden rise in altitude that we experienced (at least, this is what I like to tell myself).
Despite the extra effort being put in by our lungs, we powered on. The scenery was truly gorgeous, with delicate wild flowers buried among the verdant grass. Eventually we came across Little Tibet, and immediately saw how it had earned its name.
Two large, horned goats sat stationed to the side of the hut, which was a small, ramshackle wooden building sat next to a stream and a little water wheel. Buddhist prayer bells were hung around the structure, and they chimed in the light breeze. It definitely conjured up the image of Tibet.
We sat and had lunch here, and I got a few laughs when I ordered a hot chocolate. Everyone else was on the cool beer, but I was suffering from a lack of caffeine (yes, I know I’m an addict) and I desperately needed something to perk me up. The cocoa did the trick.
We also munched upon Speckbröt and discovered the true deliciousness of speck, which is cured pork (check out this BACON WIKI – genius idea).
After refuelling, we returned via the same route and located the path that we were meant to have walked up earlier that day. We were still feeling sprightly, so we set off down. All was going well until we reached the bottom of the first section. We discovered that we had literally just missed a massive mudslide, which had obliterated the bottom of the path. My boyfriend got covered in mud when he tried to cross, so he helped me down a better route. I was just glad that we hadn’t been around when the path disappeared!
After this brief brush with the power of nature, we continued down the path to Bärenbad. By now, we were badly in need of a snack, so we tried out the Zillerataler krapfen. These krapfen basically consist of a crisp batter, which encases a hearty filling of cheese, potato and herbs. Mountain food at it’s simple, delicious best.
This is where our second error came in to play. We thought that there probably wasn’t much further to go to get back to the hotel, and we still felt pretty good, so we continued following the route we were on.
Although this was later to prove a bit of a mistake, the route itself was delightful. We gradually wound our way down the mountain and ended up in wooded paths, which gave us some very different scenery to earlier.
After about an hour and a half of this though, we were getting tired. We partook of some emergency brioche, and consulted the rough map we had. It wasn’t very illuminating, so we headed back out to the road to see a better one. On our way, a bus passed us.
Anyway, we got to the map, and realised that we were at least another 10K away. It was about half five now, and the light was beginning to fade. We decided to catch the bus back.
But when we got to the nearest bus stop, we realised that we had missed the last one down the mountain, which was probably the one that had passed us earlier. Oops.
So we soldiered on, but now we were really tired, and the prospect of another hour or so of walking didn’t thrill us. Fortunately the brioche kept us going.
Eventually we decided to see if we could flag down a lift. Thankfully, a lovely German couple in a fancy Audi stopped and gave us a ride. We arrived back in Mayrhofen in a speedy ten minutes, after zooming through several tunnels at over 100mph. Well, we did say we wanted to get home quickly!
Walking the few yards back to our hotel was torturous. Our feet ached and we were just desperate to collapse. But after a hearty meal and a shower, we felt the high of a good day’s walking.