White water rodeo

a Rafting Day in the Salzburger Saalachtal

A ride on a thousand wild horses – on a rafting tour on the Saalach you feel like you are in the Wild West. We tried it out, taking our places in a rafting boat.    

A short while ago some friends of ours visited us. The pair were born in Salzburg and moved to Berlin many years ago where they started a family.  In the summer holidays they regularly return to their homeland, to the mountains, rivers and lakes of the Salzburger Saalachtal. This year they are spending the summer here again; the two chldren, a boy and a girl, are now teenagers. In their younger years our friends loved the nature above all else and especially the white water. Rafting on the Saalach, Bert tells me, is one of his most formative memories and naturally it is something that his own children should experience as well.  Straightaway on the second day of their holiday, the four of them want to brave the white water and have booked a rafting tour. And we are going along too – there is no way we are going to miss out on that!

Thanks to the guide

At 9.30 am on a brilliant summer’s day we stand outside the entrance to the outdoor provider’s, of which there are two  in the area. Here you can book canyoning or canoe tours and much more besides in the Salzburger Saalachtal. The kids have bright red cheeks as a result of all the excitement  – their experience of water sports is limited to bathing in a lake or swimming in a sheltered cove.  But their nervousness soon disappears into thin air thanks to the calm and professional guides. They explain the most important points about rafting and have the patience of angels all day as the kids (and my husband and I) continuously ask new questions.

Do you have everything? Checklist for the rafting day

Apropos: You should consider the following for your rafting day

  • Book the date in advance! Best of all at one of these providers:
  • Base Camp Lofer
  • Motion outdoor
  • All participants must be able to swim
  • And last but not least: a spirit of adventure!

Three hours on the white water

We have decided to take the “7 Rapids“ rafting tour – the classic, as our guide informs us. The tour takes us from Au to Unken, in around 3 hours on the Saalach, one of the most scenically attractive rafting rivers in Europe. We will cover around nine kilometres on this intermediate tour which will take us past blockages, or narrow passages, which have thrilling names such as the “Prallwand“ or the “Magnetstein“, in English the “Impact Wall“ and the “Magnetic Stone“. The anticipation is rising! And the nervous excitement too, if we are being honest. Before we begin, we receive some important (safety) instructions from our certified guides as well as the necessary equipment.

You can start your adventure here …

Base Camp Motion center

Safety first: rafting equipment

On our tour we received this equipment:

  • Neoprene trousers
  • Neoprene jacket
  • Neoprene shoes
  • Life jacket
  • White water helmet

Adrenaline in advance!

After the equipment has been adjusted, it is time to travel by minibus to the starting point in Au. My husband and I climb into the boat with slightly trembling knees – laughing, our friends jump in after us so that the boat wobbles. And then the joyful anticipitation of the white water grabs hold of us too. Our guide gives us the last instructions and we are off already! The start is leisurely – we have time to stare at the wonderful, lavish nature around us. While I am still dreamily observing the birds on the bank involved in their daily skirmishes, the boat suddenly jerks and heads into the first rapids. The white water sprays up around us, our guide calls out a couple of commands, sticks his long paddle in and we sail around a rock. Behind the rock we enjoy a short pause for breath – in the so-called eddy, which is formed behind the rock, it is a little calmer because the current slows down for a moment.

A wild ride on the waves

I turn around for a moment and catch sight of five radiant faces. Our friends are grinning from ear to ear; the children are gasping excitedly and my husband is completely in his element – always looking for the next adventure!  Our guide, who is sitting in the stern, also looks satisfied – we seem to making a good job of paddling. And so we continue on into the next rapids. The kids whoop exhuberantly and a moment later splutter and laugh as a surge of water pours into the boat. Yes, you certainly get wet when rafting but that’s why you have the neoprene suits! We enjoy the wild ride on the waves to the full.

An intensive sort of nature experience

And completely aside from the adrenaline kick – the entire experience in the middle of the untouched natural world is simply magnificent! To ride down the wild river in a stable rubber boat: to stem the waves as a team; white water in front, alongside and behind you – that is an intense experience. And the children get to observe the power of the water and the beauty of the Salzburger Saalachtal again in a completely different and new way.

See you at the white water rodeo

Once we arrive back at the base station of the outdoor provider, we permit ourselves a hot shower first of all, before we set off happily on our way home. As we walk to the car I ask my friend’s daughter, a passionate horse-rider, what she thought of the excursion. She laughs and says, “It was really great Like a rodeo ride but on lots of water horses.“ I have to laugh as well and think to myself: that’s right! A white water rodeo in the middle of the Salzburger Saalachtal. Yes, why not?

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