Cattle drives at Lake Achensee
A few thin clouds spread out across the deep blue sky and the woodlands are alive with colour. When autumn rolls around, the natural world at Lake Achensee is a spectacular sight. Autumn is also the time for the alpine cattle drives. Each year, the farmers celebrate the return of the cows from the summer pastures with much festivity.
A lot of work goes into the preparations. Farmers and herders spend several days making elaborate headdresses using flowers, ribbons, banners, and pictures of saints. Beautifully decked out, with cowbells attached to their collars to ward off demons, the cows are herded home from summer grazing in the mountains. Curious onlookers greet the parades in the villages, keeping their cameras ready to capture these special moments. Locals and visitors put on their festive dirndls and lederhosen, celebrating the occasion with folk music and tasty regional specialities.
Cattle drives are a centuries-old tradition in Tirol to celebrate and honour the cows’ accident-free summer with parades and feasts. If an accident has occurred during the summer, there won’t be any festive cattle drives. In the Rofan and Karwendel mountains, there are over 50 managed mountain pastures. At the end of the season, between September and October, the cows are moved back home to the farms in the valley.