This is the reason i brought 2 bulge things in my backpack. 1# is my hiking booth, and 2# is big heavy jacket. I want to visit Dachstein ice cave!! According to the web, i need to wear robust shoes and warm clothing, as the temperature would go from below 0 to maximum 4 Celsius. Knowing me, the one that have been living in equator forever, i took this seriously.
Dachstein actually have some attraction, not just the ice cave. There are also another cave (not ice), viewing points, trekking path, and during winter, this area become skiing spot. The easiest way to reach the area is from Obertraun, and Salzburg. There are some ice cave in Austria, including Werfen, near Salzburg that claimed to be world’s biggest ice cave. So, why did i choose Dachstein instead of Werfen? Easy…… cos i decided to stay 2 nights in Obertraun, while dachstein cable car and visitor center is just 2.10 EUR -one way- by bus number 543 from obertraun! If you are not staying overnight in Obertraun, you can just jumped to the train to Obertraun, and take the bus from there to cable car. The bus stop is just stone thrown away from the station. If you came from hallstatt, you can also take the bus 543 from Hallstatt Lahn terminal to the cable car.
To reach the ice cave, we need to take cable car. This cable car have 3 tiers. The ice cave is in the first tier. It is definitely not a cheap destination! Here is the price
I embrace my financial condition by choosing the ticket cost 28.80 EUR, to the ice cave only, (cable car ride included). The cable car ride was awesome, even though it was only to the first tier! Anyway, it was quite rainy and cloudy, i was afraid the view from five finger viewing point would be blocked.
From the first tier, we need to walk quite a bit (i mean climb up) to the cave entrance. Not too hard actually, around 15min walking. The track might quite steep, but no worries, the beautiful yet refreshing alps scenery would help you to forget the tough walk, hehehe. On this first tier, there are 3 small museum, -or i might call them information huts, cos it is rather small to be called as museum- about the cave itself, flora and fauna around the area.
These information huts are well maintain, yet informative. Well, actually all the facility on the area are well maintain and nicely built. At some point, the price we have paid to get into Dachstein area become more and more make sense….. Of course it is still expensive, but at least it is worth the money.
The ice in the cave is formed by water which seeps from the Dachstein plateau down into the cave through small cracks and joints in the cliff. When outside temperatures are above freezing the caves still contain really cold air, so the penetrating water freezes and forms magnificent ice shapes and frozen waterfalls. Although some Summer water flow is warm enough to produce slight melting, it actually balances the winter growth some which is a good thing. The Winter-Spring growth exceeds the Summer ice loss and the constant cycle of slight melting with growth guarantees the survival of this magnificent natural showcase and frozen waterfalls.
For me, the cave was so worth visit! It is one of a kind experience. The glacier was not from the ice age, it was only 500 years old, but still impressive. The glacier part was quite big. The guided tour was about 50 min. I didn’t pay much to the guide, as i was busy taking picture. The cave is well lit up, on the path and mostly at the chambers and the special ornaments, which is double awesome! We don’t need torch, and the lights also helps a lot on photo taking.
The path is well built, the hand rail and stairs are good and safe. On the website, they said the cave is suitable for all ages. I think, the hard part was not in the cave, it is in the trekking path from the cable car station to the entrance.