Panoramic mountain lake in the Dolomites
Lake Prags is one of the most famous natural highlights in South Tyrol. The shimmering waters of the mountain lake in shades of green and blue and the mighty 2,810 metre-high Seekofel mountain together create a unique picture. On a cool, clear June morning, we have an appointment with a young woman who knows the lake and its various moods particularly well: Maria Mayrgündter.
At the head of the Prags Valley, at an altitude of 1,494 metres, lies the calm Lake Prags. The smooth surface of the water reflects the sky, forest and Dolomite peaks. This is not our first time at the lake, but we stop for a moment to savour this moment of tranquil beauty. Then we take a few more steps towards the boathouse and jetty. Maria greets us there: she is already working for the boat rental company on Lake Prags for the 7th season. The name of the rental shop, "La Palafitta", translates as "the pile dwelling" and refers to the construction of the boathouse. In the high season from mid-June to the end of September, there are longer opening hours and 13 employees are on duty. In the low season and off-season, the team consists of five people. The boat rental is open until 29 October.
10 small rowing boats
In the past, the southern shore of Lake Prags could only be reached by boat, which is why rowing boats have a long tradition here. However, now there is a 4 km circular route around the lake, so you can hike instead of rowing. A boat trip on Lake Prags is an unforgettable experience with breathtaking panoramas. The wooden rowing boats are made by a family business on Lake Iseo and can accommodate a maximum of 5 adults. Maria tells us that after winter, the boats are given a beauty and maintenance treatment before season starts again: They are sanded down and repainted. This year, the number of boats has been reduced to 10 in order to give nature more peace and quiet. Maria thinks that it is a good move in terms of sustainability, and the feedback from customers has also been very positive. Sometimes less is simply more. This motto also applies to traffic, which is why from the 10th of July to the 10th of September there are restrictions on access to the lake by private car through the Prags Valley.
Everyday working life with a special ambience
During the season, Maria alternates between working at the cash desk and at the boats. She instructs the customers and gives them tips on how to behave on board. In addition to the Private Boat Experience, the rental company also offers a Shared Boat Experience, where several customers who don't know each other share a boat. This works very well. Maria helps with any initial language communication problems, but there is always a quick agreement as to who is responsible for rowing and for how long. An interesting fact for us is that women still let men take the lead in the vast majority of cases. Maria has to be careful if too many people want to get into the boat at once, because then it can list and tip over. In windy conditions and strong currents, the boat rental team sometimes has to pull a boat back to shore because the passengers can no longer manage to row back to shore on their own.
Marriage proposals & photo shoots
Thanks to film, television and social media, Lake Prags has become world-famous and a much sought-after photo motif. Couples from faraway countries sometimes travel to the Prags Valley months after their wedding to take photos by and on the lake – perfectly styled in their wedding dresses and suits, of course. The romantic setting is also popular with couples who have not yet got married: Maria has therefore already witnessed a number of wedding proposals live – from pompous to simple.
Incidentally, it is also possible to hire the boathouse and 2 boats as a shooting location early in the morning before the boat rental shop opens. And La Palafitta also offers a Boat & Bike Experience in cooperation with Papin bike rental at Welsberg station: you can combine an excursion on an e-bike with a boat trip in a very relaxed way – environmentally friendly and stress-free. Maria's work is not always stress-free, but she enjoys it and can't imagine a more beautiful place to work than Lake Prags.