With the summer holidays in full swing, we wanted to make the most of some of the great family activities on offer in and around Mayrhofen. The first on our list was something I had long wanted to try – Llama trekking! The Naturpark Zillertal offer this guided walk as part of their varied summer programme of hikes, rambles and walks; all you need to do is register yourself and all family members on their website at least one day before the event.
Our furry guides!
As stipulated in the trek description, we arrived at the Tux Center in Lanersbach at 10.15am with a packed lunch and plenty of enthusiasm. We chose to drive and parked in the free car park, but the Naturpark programme tells you exactly which bus to take from Mayrhofen to get to the meeting point in good time (approx 30 minute bus ride). If you are doing the hike with children, arrive slightly earlier to check out the playground behind the Tux Center! Although my 20 month old daughter is much younger than the recommended age of 6 years, the guide, Sepp, was very welcoming and we made sure to bring a child carrier to make sure we didn’t hold up the group.
The Llamas – Bernardo, Cusco, Nero and Moritz – were busily munching on the grass verge when we arrived and were amazingly calm and patient despite my daughter running excitedly from one to the other demanding a ‘cuckle’ (cuddle) with these new furry friends! We paid our Nature Park contribution (€5 for an adult, €2.50 for children) and Sepp gave an interesting introduction to the walk, describing both the trek itself and offering lots of information about the llamas including pictures and an inflatable globe to show the children where llamas come from. The other trekkers were German speaking but Sepp was happy to speak to us in English. We were pleased to learn that, although they unfortunately cannot carry young children (!), the llamas were able to carry rucksacks, lightening the load and freeing up parents and children to better enjoy the trek and keep firm hold of the llamas!
The group of 15 participants was a mixture of ages from the six other very excited children to older walkers looking for a gentler hike with a twist. A friendly group spirit formed from the start with families helping each other capture some great photos and the llamas being shared fairly and frequently around the group. One dad even offered to carry my daughter for me if I got tired and an older gentleman happily held her hand for 20 minutes when she decided that walking with Mummy was boring! This group camaraderie and the chance to meet some lovely people made the day even more enjoyable.
A gentle pace
The hike started along a well-maintained path, which even my toddler could run along without tripping over any stones. The llamas were easy for the children to lead and generally well behaved. Any mischievous munching on passing trees or refusing to walk on added to the fun of the day! We followed the crystal clear Tuxbach river with the shade of trees keeping us cool in the hot August sun before starting the fairly gentle climb up the mountain side. Even just this small altitude gain, allowed us great views down onto the Tux valley and up towards the Hintertux glacier. With the llamas setting the pace, nobody was rushed or left behind. In fact, at one point we passed a children’s fire engine which my daughter insisted on ‘driving’ for a good ten minutes and we were still able to catch the group up with her in the children’s carrier.
An early exit
After an hour of walking, the path took us back towards the valley floor. By this point my daughter was exhausted (she had insisted on walking as much as possible and leading her own llama!) and we made the decision to leave the group in Juns and catch a bus back to the Tux Center (buses run every 30 minutes). Whilst I was sorry to cut the trek short, it was good to have the flexibility to leave the hike, which meant that I was able to try something different with my young daughter without having to commit to a full day. Sepp was a diligent guide to the end, agreeing that we could make our own way back as long as we informed him that we were leaving and once he was satisfied that we would find the bus stop.
The trek goes on
Our fellow trekkers continued on to the Tuxer Mühle (Tux Mill), a real piece of valley history dating back to 1839. It is here that they enjoyed their packed lunches before taking the path on the other side of the valley back to the Tux Center in the afternoon. In total the trek lasts around 5 hours with about 3 hours of walking and an altitude change of approximately 200m.
I can highly recommend this unusual and fun trek through the beautiful Tux valley – it is a great way to get children to enjoy hiking and a unique experience for all ages. I will definitely be taking my daughter again when she is a little older.
For further information visit www.naturpark-zillertal.at