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Eng is the largest alm settlement of Europe, in the Austrian alpine region North Tyrol. An alm is a seasonally used grazing ground at high altitude.

Understand[edit]

View of Eng, with the Grubenkarspitze in the background

Eng is an alm settlement of about 15 timber buildings roughly halfway between Innsbruck and the German border, in the middle of the Karwendel Nature Park. It is best known as one of the most isolated settlements in the Alps, and possibly in all of Central Europe. Its location is so remote, at the end of a long stretched valley, that it cannot be reached by road or rail from anywhere in Austria: the only conventional access route is through Bavaria.

Its location at an altitude of 1227 m in the desolate alpine wilderness of the Karwendel Nature Park is Eng's greatest economic asset. Around 500 cattle graze the pristine meadows around Eng during the summer months, giving the cheese manufactured in Eng a unique taste. As an alm, Eng is also very popular among backpackers as a base station to explore the surrounding mountains. Many hiking trails pass through Eng, making it a starting point for alpine trekkings. If you want to escape the busy city life, Eng is without a doubt the best place to find rest.

History[edit]

The earliest human activity in Eng dates back to the bronze age, as evidenced by a bronze sword found in the vicinity of the alm. Records indicate that humans have regularly inhabited the alm for over a millennium, and the first written evidence of a human settlement dates from 1523. Since then, livestock has been cultivated continuously in Eng, although only during summer months. Halfway the 19th century, the farmers cultivating the alm lands founded the Eng Agricultural Community, which consists of 10 farmer families.

Get in[edit]

The Rißbach river, flanked by Karwendel's tallest peaks

Because of its remoteness, Eng is one of the most difficult to reach destinations in the Alps. There is only one road leading to Eng, following the Enger Valley north-south from the German border. The nearest town is 1 Wallgau Wallgau on Wikipedia right across the German border, about 40 km away.

During the winter months, the valley route is closed for traffic because of avalanche threat, and Eng is effectively cut-off from the outside world. Most of Eng is a ghost town during the winter months, although hikers brave enough to venture in the snowy wasteland of the Karwendel Nature Park can find shelter in the empty barns.

By bus[edit]

During summer months, Eng can be reached by bus. The schedule is irregular at best, so check in advance when bus connections are available. Get off at stop 2 Alpengasthof Eng from where Eng can be reached by foot by walking the last 500 m to the end of the valley.

By bicycle[edit]

When the valley route is open, Eng can be reached from Wallgau by bicycle. The 38-km route climbs 400 m, so count 3.5 hours to reach Eng from Wallgau. The route is very scenic along the Rissbach river, and there is hardly any motorized traffic since the valley is a dead end.

Get around[edit]

Eng is tiny, and the only way to get around is by foot during summer months, or snow scooter in winter.

See[edit]

  • 1 Cheese Factory (Almkäserei), Panoramaweg 7, . 09:00-12:00. A traditional cheese factory, manufacturing cheese following traditional recipes and procedures. The Enger Bergkäse (Eng Mountain Cheese) is produced from the milk of some 500 cattle grazing the alm meadows, which gives the cheese a unique taste from the alpine herbs and natural and healthy diet. Every morning, visitors have the opportunity to watch the cheese master at work. Around 1600 cheese wheels roll out of the factory each year, and are prepared in its copper kettles. The mountain cheese and semi-hard cheese produced in the factory is offered for tasting and sale after maturing in the cheese store of the farm shop. Free.
The alm's 300-year-old timber chapel
  • 2 Chapel (Almkapelle), Panoramaweg 17. The only religious venue of Eng, a timber Christian chapel looks over the outskirts of the alm since the late 17th century. Religious services are regularly scheduled during summer months, and weddings held occasionally. Free.

Do[edit]

  • Explore the Karwendel Nature Park with a backpack.
  • 1 Exploration Park (Spielschatz), Panoramaweg 11. Playground for the youngest explorers, with a race track, tunnel, and a massive sand box.

Buy[edit]

  • 1 Farmer Shop (Bauernladen), Eng Nr. 11, +43 524 52 27, . The only store on the alm, and indispensable for travelers to stock up on food. They sell local produce of the alm: beef and Wildfleisch, bacon, sausages, bread, milk, cheese, juices, jam, honey, and several strongly alcoholic drinks (Schnapps). They also have a selection of souvenirs to take home.

Eat[edit]

  • 1 Rasthütte Engalm, +43 524 52 26, . Traditional Tyrolean restaurant opened from May to October, specialized in local cuisine: meat, Spatzln (traditional Tyrolean noodles), cakes, Apfelstrudel, Kaiserschmarrn, and so on. Try their Kaspressknödel made with the cheese produced at the Eng alm!

Drink[edit]

Eng has been supplied by spring water since 1941, which is distributed to the alm through a short pipeline. With little human activity in the vicinity, the spring water is as healthy as it gets! Refill your drink bottles at the 1 fountain on the central square of the alm, supplying unlimited free and ice cold spring water.

Sleep[edit]

  • 1 Wanderhotel Alpengasthof Eng, Eng 1, 6215 Hinteriß, +43 5245 231 80. A 3-star hotel tailored to backpackers.
  • 2 Engalm no. 6, Panoramaweg 6.
  • 3 Moar-hütte, Engalm 13, +43 5245 236. The Steinlechner family has operated the Moar-hütte for generations, and rents rooms to travelers. Reservations must be made in advance by telephone.
  • 4 Binsalm (Schutzhütte Binsalm), Hinterriss 1 (40-min climb from Eng), +43 5245 214, . Alm of the Dominik Larcher family, at an altiude of 1500 m, and inhabited from half May to end of October. They also serve traditional Tyrolean food based on their own produce, and breakfast for residents for €8.50. €22 - €31.
  • 5 Lamsenjochhütte, +43 5244 620 63. At an altitude of 1953 m under the Lamsenspitze, this alm has received travelers since 1906 and gained popularity because of its spectacular location, and because it can be reached relatively easily. It offers 31 rooms and amenities for laundry, allowing travelers to try wet clothes. It received a prize for excellence in environmental preservation in 2004. Opened from June to October.

Stay safe[edit]

Although Eng is the only settlement of significance in the Karwendel Nature Park, it lacks proper medical facilities. Prepare yourself accordingly and obey common sense when hiking in the surrounding mountains. Particular care must be taken when hiking on or around the Grubenkarspitze, whose steep flanks are covered with sharp gneiss (Schiefer) rocks. If you were to require medical assistance, you would be airlifted to Innsbruck by helicopter, with a minimum charge of €12,000. Ensure proper medical insurance is in place, and consider advice from experienced mountain guides.

The Eng alm is deserted during winter months and partially or completely snowed in from November to March (or whenever the snow melts). During these months, no facilities short of basic shelter in a barn will be available to you. There is an acute avalanche threat since avalanche risk is not actively monitored in the Karwendel Nature Park, and the icy weather is unforgiving to all but the most hardened and well prepared travelers. Unless you have extensive experience and are accompanied by a mountain guide with knowledge of the Karwendel Nature Park, it is strongly advised to refrain from attempting to visit Eng in winter.

The only predator of significance is the lynx, but sightings are rare and attacks unheard of. Watch out for wild boars, which can be aggressive when cornered or when protecting their offspring. Venomous vipers can occasionally be encountered sunbathing on rocks, and may attack when provoked — bites are rarely deadly but extremely painful and should be treated as fast as possible.

Stay healthy[edit]

Ticks are common in the meadows of the alm, particularly those regularly grazed by livestock. Although only a small fraction carries Lyme disease, serious complications will arise if the infection remains untreated. Wear long trousers when walking through tall grass and check for ticks on your legs regularly. If red concentric circles develop around a bite after a few hours or days, seek medical treatment immediately.

Connect[edit]

There is a 1 letterbox in front of the shop, where you can purchase postcards and stamps.

Go next[edit]

  • 1 Pertisau — holiday and ski resort at the shore of Achen Lake ca. 20 km east of Eng
  • 2 Innsbruck — the region capital of Tyrol
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