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Respire. Take a breath.

Niki Leiter

„Niederthai gives you the freedom to be all by yourself.“

Niki Leiter (44) is a hiking and nature park guide and also co-manages the Hotel Tauferberg in his home Niederthai. The family business originated from a small farm, the Sennhof, and this year celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Niederthai is a special place. It towers at 1550 m – 500 m above Umhausen in the valley – on a wide, sun-blessed plateau. Thousands of years ago, the massive rocks of the Tauferberg blocked the natural outflow of the Horlachbach river and turned the area into an extensive lake. Slowly, the water ate its way through the rocks, finally breaking through and thus creating Tyrol’s biggest waterfall, the Stuibenfall.

“Niederthai is not a place where things are designed or constructed. Things are the way they are. They spring from deep inside and they are honest. You cannot invent an atmosphere. It just is. It is not a fast-paced place. In Niederthai things have to grow.

The Tauferberg has made Niederthai what it is: a beautiful alpine plateau which you will rarely find elsewhere. When you build a house on this ground, you won’t hit stone. We have sand and clay soil, just like the ground of a lake. The Tauferberg in contrast is a giant conglomerate of rocks, very distinct and special. It was formed about 9.000 years ago by the massive Köfler rockslide, one of the biggest rock movements in the Alps. It rose up and turned into this shielding threshold behind which our high plain came to be.

As kids we were always looking for ways through the stone labyrinth. It is a beautiful, fascinating and most of all adventurous playground with caves and cold vaults, where they used to cool the meat.

My aunt often took me to the big stone, the Große Stein. It turned into a special place for me and it still is to this day. A powerful place. You may call it what you like, but those places have a special aura. They give me a sense of being that is hard to describe. You can go there when you feel good. And you can go there when you feel bad. It’s a place where you can accept things for what they are.

A few years ago, my daughter Eva has chosen the big stone to be her very own special place. All by herself. It seems the feeling is passed on from generation to generation. She’s now 7 and often takes me there. But I go by myself regularly as well. Sometimes ten days pass, sometimes I go four times a week.

There are many special places in Niederthai. They are not far from the hiking routes, but you are still all by yourself. You can sit in the sun, enjoy the view and get to feel yourself and nature. I’m not really attracted to the well-known, busy spots like the Stuibenfall. I rather leave the house, go around the corner – and see no one.“

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„Niederthai gives you the freedom to be all by yourself – whether you stand on a 3000 m peak or you sit on a bench in the woods. I never wanted to miss that. I was never eager to leave and conquer the world. I always felt good here. I can hardly imagine a better home – and it feels good to say that after 44 years.”

Niki Leiter, hiking and nature park guide from Niederthai

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