European Wilderness Volunteer DiaryThe Diary of the European Wilderness Society Volunteers

Hiking adventures in Lungau and Pongau

The snow was melting, spring was coming to a close, and after a week in the UK, I was excited to head back to the mountains again. Every Friday since April, public transport has been free within the state of Salzburg so I wanted to take the opportunity to explore the region some more. One sight that caught my attention was the Liechtensteinklamm, one of the longest and deepest gorges in the Alps. So I got up early, packed some lunch and took an early bus out of Tamsweg.

A gorge-ous sight

The Liechtensteinklamm is located in the neighbouring region of Pongau, just outside the town of St Johann. Its namesake, Prince Johann II of Liechtenstein, first installed a walkway there in 1875. The 4 kilometre long, 300 metre deep gorge was formed by the Großarler Ache stream over thousands of years (or by the Devil in a fit of rage, if you would rather believe the local legend).

Getting there took 3 hours and 4 buses, but with free travel it was definitely worth it. As it was a sunny day, there were hundreds of tourists waiting at the entrance of the Liechtensteinklamm. After a long queue in front of the ticket office, I followed the other visitors into the gorge.

The Liechtensteinklamm is stunning. The fast-flowing stream formed smooth curves in the chasm, which was so deep and narrow that it was easy to feel claustrophobic with the amount of people there. Heading down the narrow wooden walkway along the gorge, bright turquoise water roared beside us as is made its way down the rocks. It formed a fine, shimmering mist which was very refreshing in the late spring heat. The path eventually gave way to an imposing spiral staircase winding down to the bottom.

Surprisingly, the walk through the gorge and back only took about an hour in total. To kill some time before my bus back, I took a circular route through the forest. I enjoyed some nice views of St Johann on a path almost free of people, although I did come across some curious cows!

Taking the road less travelled by

The next day, I went on a trip closer to home, this time with Karolina. The weather was overcast, which was a welcome change after Friday and made the hiking more pleasant. On our way we encountered some more cows, which were friendly but sometimes got a bit close for comfort! The path was quite steep at times, so we were grateful when we reached a stream to refill our bottles. Our aim was to get to a village just across the border in Styria. However, we kept making wrong turns, with some of the marked hiking paths leading to dead ends. Despite losing our way a bit, we had some great views of the Lungau landscape.

In the end, Karolina and I only made it to a small town near Ramingstein. If we had taken a more conventional route, it would only have taken two hours to get there. Exhausted by the time we arrived in the early evening, we decided to get the train back to Tamsweg. The ride was only a few stops, which made the 7 hours we had just spent hiking feel rather absurd. But luckily for us, we got home just before it started raining!

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