An animal summit

Whether ibex, chamois or ptarmigan - the animal kingdom of the Vienna Alps is diverse. Read here the best place to observe wild animals.

Those on the long-distance hiking trail along the Vienna Alpine Arc don´t only experience a constantly changing landscape, but also one or several animal spectacles of nature. We recommend keeping your eyes peeled on your hike!

The mountains of the Vienna Alpine Arc belong to the animals! The peaks of the Rax and the Schneeberg are home to numerous herds of chamois, herds of cows graze along the hiking trails of the beautiful Schwaigen, and ibexes climb between the towers of rocks on the high-altitude plateau of the Hohe Wand. Some other wild Alpine animals, such as the ptarmigan, are so shy that hardly anyone gets to see them. In any case, we ask you to behave respectfully when dealing with the animals of our natural landscape!

#1 Cow-rich Schwaigen landscape

The green Alpine meadows of the Wechselgebirge are not only a popular destination for day hikers and long-distance hikers (stage 8 of the Vienna Alpine Arc passes here!), they are also the grazing land of numerous herds of cows. The kitschy mountain image is rounded off by the quaint cattle sheds as well as the herds of cattle spotted around the lush meadow ridges. Not surprisingly, hiking trails cross the grassy spots of the cattle. Generally speaking, cows are usually peaceful animals, yet caution is advised (especially for dog owners) and we urge you to walk past the grazing animals at a respectful distance!

#2 Graceful Alpine creatures

Chamois tend to be rather shy creatures, but anyone travelling along the Vienna Alpine Arc (e.g. stage 11 of the long-distance hiking trail) in the Rax-Schneeberg region will probably encounter the pair-hoofed Alpine animals. In the high Alpine region on the border with Styria, there are numerous populations of the goat-like horned animals. Especially on the southern slopes below the highest peaks of Lower Austria, they proudly pose in the early sunrise and late sunset. During the day, the herds like to graze among the pine bushes and enjoy their peaceful existence. It’s best to hike ahead and take a "peek" at our most beautiful viewing spots!

#3 Ibex alarm in the wall

The ibex generally lives in the high mountain ranges of the Alps. However, around 75 of the animals have moved to the rocky south-eastern slopes of the Hohe Wand, at just 1,132 m above sea level. The reason for their existence? Twenty years ago, three of them escaped from the nearby Nature Park Hohe Wand and quickly declared the steep rock faces as their new home. The colony continues to grow year on year, much to the delight of the visitors. After all, the four-legged rock climbers are not only beautiful to look at, but also extremely people-friendly. If you are out on the plateau early in the morning, don't be surprised if a whole herd of horned goats suddenly passes by.

#4 Chickens in the snow

The rock ptarmigan can be found throughout the Alps, but are only sparsely distributed in the eastern foothills of the Alpine Arc. One of the last breeding areas in Lower Austria can be found in the Rax-Schneeberg mountain range. While several stomping grounds could still be identified on the Rax, it is assumed that there is a single pair of ptarmigan west of the Klosterwappen on the Hochschneeberg (e.g. on stage 14 of the Vienna Alpine Arc or on the plateau hike). With a bit of luck and a proper approach, it is still possible to see the Alpine bird species.