National Parks in Austria
Austria's six national parks offer visitors the chance to discover nature in its original, untouched state and to come face to face with scenic beauty.
Three years ago, Andrea Fürstaller lost her leg in an accident. Today, she is back in Austria's mountains. How she succeeded in dealing with this severe blow and reclaimed her life using resilience – and how Austria's mountains and nature helped her do it...
It's an unremarkable autumn day in 2018 when Andrea Fürstaller and her boyfriend get into a motor cart at her parents' mountain farmstead, something they've done many times before. As they drive down a steep slope, the rear of the cart veers out of control, and the cart flips over again and again. "I remember the noise and my boyfriend's screams. I tried to spread myself into the cabin using my arms and legs," Andrea says. "Then it suddenly got dark." They plunge downhill for 70 metres.
Days later, Andrea is woken from her coma. The doctors have already operated on her leg five times, after it was crushed by the motor cart's cabin. There's nothing else they can do, except amputate. "My world fell apart," Andrea says. "The strange thing is: I've always enjoyed having two healthy legs that would take me wherever I wanted to go. And then suddenly, all of that is over."
Since childhood, she had helped out on her parents' farm. Working with animals was an important part of her life; in the summer, she had worked on an Alpine pasture, taking care of cows. All of that was suddenly no longer possible: "The accident changed my life completely."
“To a certain degree, resilience depends on our temperament, our personal characteristics. But in large part, we can teach ourselves.”
“Behind the clouds, no matter how dark they are, the sun is still shining. You just have to wait a little bit now and then.”
“This place up here is paradise. Living here is a huge privilege. Especially working on the farm is deeply meaningful to me.”
“When I've made it to the summit, I do feel tired physically, but mentally I feel free. It's a wonderful thing.”
From a scientific viewpoint, being active can be a helpful part of a resilient lifestyle: "The physical and the mental are deeply linked. On the one hand, physical activity causes so-called 'happiness hormones' like serotonin to release. But there is another important factor: If I overcome my own inner resistance and go exercise, I am acting with self-efficacy", says Jana Goldmann.
“I often cannot wait to get up in the morning. I am so excited about the day, to see what happens and what I will experience.”
Featuring 1,800 km² of untouched nature, Hohe Tauern National Park is Austria's largest national park. Located across the provinces of Carinthia, Tirol, and SalzburgerLand, it is a habitat for approx. 15,000 animal species and around 3,500 plant species. It is also home to the Großglockner, Austria's tallest mountain. And the Großglockner is not the only tall mountain in the area: 225 peaks with altitudes of over 3,000 m are located within Hohe Tauern National Park, making up one of the world's most fascinating high Alpine landscapes. You will find cosy huts and snack stations along the extensive hiking trail network - and you might just discover your new favourite nature spot, whether on a glacial ice field, in a deep gorge, by a specticular waterfall, or on a lush Alpine meadow.