Sunday, 27 November 2011

A November trip through the Donau-Auen National Park

Last Saturday my friend and I went by train to a place called Wolfsthal, 70 km East of Vienna.

Originally we had planned to follow the St. James' Way, but soon St. James' Way led us to the banks of the river Danube and we followed the hidden paths throuhg the riparian forests instead.

The sandbanks of the river were much larger than usual.
Due to a very dry autumn season, the water-level of the Danube is extremely low.

We had not expected to see Devín castle on the other side of the Danube in such beauty.
The afternoon light was picture perfect, and so we walked down to the dry sandbanks to get a closer look.

Devín castle (Burg Theben) is situated on a 212 m high cliff at the confluence of the Danube and Moravian rivers in Slovakia.
The place has been settled since the Neolithic and fortified since the Bronce and Iron Age.
We plan to visit the cliff next summer to explore the ruins!

We walked on through the riparian forests along the old arms of the Danube.
The path is so romantic! It strongly reminded me of the fantastic settings of the Kingdom Hearts video games series. I even expected to find Kairi and Riku around the corner :)

Of course we were not on Riku's Island, but in the Donau-Auen National Park near Hainburg, one of the largest remaining floodplains of the Danube in Middle Europe.

Also the history of the National Park Donau-Auen is remarkable:
In 1984, Austrian environmental activists began a successful fight against plans to build another hydro-electric power plant at the Danube which would have destroyed the unique area.
Clearing operations had already begun and the first trees had been chopped when the activists began to occupy the area.
The occupation of the floodplains in Hainburg led to a significant change in Austria's idea of the meaning of democracy and of the protection of the enviroment.

Thus the Donau-Auen National Park was founded and designated an IUCN category II national park.
It spans the areas of Vienna (Lobau), Groß-Enzersdorf, Orth an der Donau, Eckartsau, Engelhartstetten, Hainburg, Bad Deutsch-Altenburg, Petronell-Carnuntum, Regelsbrunn, Haslau-Maria Ellend, Fischamend and Schwechat,
which is an area of 93 square kilometers (3.900ha).

After a three hours walk, we arrived in Hainburg and had a delicious meal at the elegant local Gasthaus Zum goldenen Anker.

If you want to see some more pictures, please follow this link !