In the White Water
Adrenalin pumping White Water Adventures
Sitting on the bank of the gently rippling Saalach is tremendously calming. However, the water in the Salzburger Saalachtal can also be a playground for adventure seekers, revealing its wild and powerful side: through narrow gorges, over wild waves, on gentle eddies and brave leaps into the ice-cold water in dark ravines!
We now swim forwards and slide over natural channels in the slippy rock. Laughing, we let the water pull us along like driftwood. A loud roaring announces a waterfall which we will tackle with a rope, secured by our guide. “Now we have reached the high point of our tour“, he says and indicates the cliff edge in front of us and adds with an enthusiastic smile, “We're going to jump!“ I am only too happy to let the others go in front as the idea of leaping from a great height into a small pool of water makes my heart race. But eventually I am standing directly on the edge and looking down 8 metres to the rock pool, carved out by the water. I close my eyes and feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins. I concentrate on my landing place in the middle of the pool and jump off powerfully. I did it! On the rest of the way out of the gorge I am already looking forward to the third course of my adventure menu – the kayak tour on the Saalach!
Gentle Rodeo Ride in a Kayak
There is a multi-day course available in the Salzburger Saalachtal for kayak beginners which begins in still water with simple exercises. When the technique has been mastered it is then time to go on the Saalach. As I learned kayaking on a school sport week and have already completed a few river rides, I book a private guided river tour on a calm stretch of the Saalach. Nevertheless, I still need to refresh my technique on the Ritzensee in Saalfelden. In addition to neoprene wetsuit, life vest and helmet, today a spray-cover is pulled over everything to prevent water getting into the kayak. Gradually the different paddle strokes needed to manoeuvre the kayak through white water come back to me. Finally we practise the eskimo roll which rights the kayak quickly if it capsizes in the river. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, where I open the spray-cover underwater to be able to get out of the kayak, I have gained enough confidence for my first river ride this year. My guide and I drive to St. Martin where we unload the kayaks from the trailer and carry them across the green meadows down to the Saalach. We climb in and push off from the bank. It is tranquil at first and I have enough time to get used to the increased movement of the water compared to the lake. After a short while we take a rest in an eddy. Two, three paddle strokes and the tip of the boat turns to the bank and we come to a stop in the still water. “Now we'll practise a couple of manoeuvres. We'll begin by crossing the river to the other bank“, announces the guide and we set off. With the help of the current and regular paddle strokes I make it to the other side of the river. I look up at the blue sky and the green meadows all around – and suddenly I'm swimming with my head under water in the kayak. After a moment of shock my body reacts instinctively and carries out the practised movements. I emerge from the water and swim to the bank with the boat in one hand and the paddle in the other. Laughing about my baptism of fire, the guide comes over to me and we set off on our journey again. Unfortunately this time the eskimo roll didn't work, but as they say: practice makes perfect! Surfing over the little waves feels like a tame rodeo ride and we reach the end all too soon.
After three days of adventure in the wild flood waters of the Salzburger Saalachtal, a happy grin is engraved on my face and adrenaline and endorphins are coursing through my bloodstream. One thing is certain, “That was definitely not my last course – I'm coming back to the white water for a second helping!“
You can experience white water in the Salzburger Saalachtal – canyoning, rafting or kayak and kanu tours – with one of the following providers: