Let me share today’s tip for a great excursion in the Danube region of Lower Austria with you.
Only an hour away from Vienna, near the town of Krems on the Danube, you can go hiking with donkeys in the enchanting surroundings of the Dunkelsteinerwald forest. The three furry friends we’ve met are called Hanni, Nanni and Franz. They belong to the no less charming Steffi, a social pedagogue who also uses the donkeys for animal-assisted therapy. Donkeys are neither stubborn nor stupid, but extremely intelligent and social, as Steffi never tires of pointing out.
It was actually my son Liam’s third birthday that made us think of going for a walk with donkeys! Let me explain: During the previous summer, when he was just over two years old, he naturally took to being around, even sitting on the backs of donkeys and ponies – both when we travelled in Belgium as well as in Austria. So we had the idea to repeat the same thing “on our doorstep”, close to our hometown Vienna.
The landscape around Bergern in the Dunkelsteinerwald forest, the home of Steffi’s donkeys, offers much more than just nice field and forest paths for donkey walks. Heurigen wine bars in the immediate vicinity tempt with local culinary delicacies. The Camino, or Way of Saint James, leads past here right by the south bank of the Danube river. And from the so-called Ferdinandwarte lookout tower, you have one of the most beautiful views of the lower Wachau Valley, including a perfect view of Dürnstein and its iconic blue church tower.
So. I’d love to see more of Hanni, Nanni and Franz! During the hike, we learned a lot from Steffi about their character, their history, what they like or don’t like, so this may be the beginning of a new friendship! Who knows when Liam (or later his little brother Levin) will say again: I want to go see the donkeys?
In any case, we can absolutely recommend this short trip, especially with young kids. And you – have you ever hiked with donkeys?