Crystal-clear lakes, Medieval castles and panoramic views await around each bend. By Julian Mattocks • Photographs Courtesy Julian Mattocks
“A guest told me that she had sat in this very spot 30 years ago and it hasn’t changed a bit,” nature park guide Robert Röbl tells me as we come to a secluded, picture-perfect clearing in the woods by the lake’s shoreline. From a bench I look out at the turquoise-coloured, crystal-clear water, the darker hues of the wooded mountainside and the lush, verdant trees surrounding us and think to myself that this scene of utter serenity is like a paradise in multiple shades of green. “For us it’s the ultimate compliment,” he says, breaking the silence. “We’re happy that nothing has changed. It will look the same in 100 years’ time!”
Often called the “Caribbean of the Alps,” the seven-mile-long Lake Weissensee lies in Austria’s southernmost state of Carinthia, which I’m exploring for the next six days with my friend Dieter. At 3051 ft above sea level, Weissensee is the highest swimming lake in the state and brimming with pristine, unspoiled nature. With two-thirds of its shoreline untouched, the lake is a magnet for nature lovers seeking some peace and tranquillity. And it’s in demand more than ever—during the 2020 pandemic, the region experienced a 400% increase in booking requests.