Happiness on earth can also be found on horseback in Ötztal. However, not only children are trotting up hill and down dale but all the family. At the entrance to picturesque Kühtai, it's not about classic riding lessons for kids but about leisurely trek and trail rides for everyone. At ISI Rider Ochsengarten there are only Icelandic ponies in the stable. The animals are only 1.50 meters high and are known for being particularly good-natured. And therefore ideal for anyone who has never sat on the back of a horse before. Additionally, Icelandic ponies are made for uneven terrain or steeper paths and have no problem even in wind and weather. That's why everyone enjoys a trail ride together in the group - always accompanied by a professional riding instructor. The motto? Trekking instead of riding. That means: Riding only at walking pace. Therefore all the family can join in, even if they have no previous riding experience.
7 truly cool animal stations in Ötztal
You can of course scramble up mountains on a family holiday in Ötztal or take a swim in mountain lakes. But you can - and should! - also make sure to search for the best four-legged friends in the region. What you will find there? Horses in the paddock, pygmy goats on the mountain pasture, birds of prey in the sky - and heaps of animal adventures! Here are seven ultimate tips provided by our family reporters.
1. Trail riding on Icelandic ponies
2. Horses and carriages
If the children shout "riding lesson!", an excursion to Niederthai is a great idea. At the Veitenhof farm the kids can learn to ride on lovely Haflinger horses. These animals are ideal for the youngest. Haflingers are only 1.50 meters high, good-natured and feel very comfortable as mountain horses in the Ötztal Alps. And after the riding lesson it's again time for all the family. Then the Haflinger horses are harnessed to a carriage that takes you on an adventurous carriage ride through Niederthai, leading even to the popular Stuiben Falls. Tirol's biggest waterfall is a truly magical sight. On average, 610 liters of water per second and a maximum of 2000 liters per second rush down over the edge of the rock.
3. Cuddly petting zoo
The youngest vacationers in Ötztal can experience a great adventure when visiting the Gaislachalm pasture. There is a great petting zoo high up on the mountain! Parents also will enjoy the place as the inn has a large terrace offering stunning panoramic views of the Ötztal mountains. Two cute ponies and a funny donkey are standing on the paddock. Hamsters live in a small barn, chickens cluck and geese cackle in a larger enclosure. And a she-goat with her he-goat happily do gymnastics on the roof of a shed. There are also two sheep, a white and a black one. And on certain days, children can also bake stick bread and catch trout in the private pond.
4. Flight acrobats and archetypes
If you look up at the sky in Ötztal, you will discover lots of birds. You can get very close to some of them in Umhausen's Birds of Prey Park. Around 15 different species of raptors can be admired here: vultures, eagles, owls, falcons or buzzards. The flight shows held in the open-air arena are particularly exciting when the birds of prey fly closely above the visitors that they even have to duck their heads! Afterwards you should not miss out on a short walk to Umhausen's Ötzi Village right next door. In the open-air park visitors of all ages will learn how people lived some 5000 years ago. Of course there are also very special animals breed that have been existing for ages. They have funny names like Przewalski wild horses, aurochs, woolly-haired pigs, Blobe goats or Soay sheep.
5. Visiting pygmy goats
Children often whine when their parents want to go hiking. But in Ötztal it often happens that a walking tour is followed by a great surprise for little mountain enthusiasts. For example in the picturesque area around Niederthai. If you follow the hiking trail to Larstigalm here, you will ultimately find a destination that makes everyone happy. While parents restore energy with a hearty snack and beer, the kids will discover something that makes their hearts beat faster on the Alpine meadows: Sweet pygmy goats live here at the Larstigalm petting zoo and they look forward to play and have fun with the children!
6. Marvel at Tirolean gray cattle
Anyone traveling to Ötztal always has two things in sight: Countless mountain peaks and cows, a great many cows. Especially the famous Tirolean gray cattle graze on the Alpine pastures, promising great perspectives. It is a very special breed of cattle. The animals have a gray, almost silver skin and beautiful dark eyes. You will always meet the cattle on your hiking tours. They are generally good-natured, but there have been a number of accidents in the past few years - either with watchful mother cows that defend their calves or with herds that have reacted aggressively to dogs and therefore also to their dog keepers.
Since April 2019, there have been official rules of conduct throughout Austria on how visitors and hikers can best and most safely meet grazing four-legged friends on Alpine pastures and meadows. New standards have also been set up for Alpine pastures and pastural farming in order to guarantee the best possible cooperation between holidaymakers, farmers and their Alpine cattle. You can find the new code of conduct in the box below. Please heed the rules and - above all - explain it to your children in a responsible way.
The 10 rules of conduct if you meet grazing Alpine cattle are:
- Avoid contact with grazing cattle, do not feed animals, keep a safe distance!
- Keep calm, do not scare grazing cattle!
- Mother cows protect their calves. Avoid encountering suckler cows and dogs!
- Always keep dogs under control and keep them on a short leash. If an attack by a grazing animal is foreseeable: unleash the dog immediately!
- Do not leave hiking trails on pastures and meadows!
- If grazing cattle block the way, bypass them as far as possible!
- If grazing cattle comes nearer: stay calm, do not turn around, get out of their way!
- Immediately leave the pasture area at the first sign of restlessness!
- Fences must be observed! If there is a gate then use it, close it afterwards and cross the pasture quickly!
- Treat the people working here, nature and animals with respect!
7. Ötztal's supercute animal mascots
The animals within Ötztal are small and big, wild and tame, unicolored and speckled - and two of them are funny ambassadors for the holiday region. The mountain sheep WIDI has long been the mascot of Ötztal. His home is at 2020 m above sea level at the WIDIVERSUM in Hochoetz. There is an adventure course for children right between the mountain peaks. Now WIDI has a new companion - his name is AQUAKI. The cute, green animal lives at the AQUA DOME in Längenfeld. In the children's area of AQUAKI you will find a water cannon, a spray ring, a water pumping station, pool fountains and a floating climbing and motor skill course where water fans can let off steam.
Guest authors Jasmin and Sophie Kreulitsch
The freelance travel journalist and blogger Jasmin Kreulitsch and her niece Sophie tested all highlights in Ötztal that keep families busy - involving animals or not.
There are even more travel reports on www.kosmopoetin.com.