Region: Europe >> Austria
Travel time: 2010, July 17th to July 18th
Picture Gallery: Link
A couple of friends and I spent a Rafting weekend in Austria and we had an adrenaline-packed time, being chased by a storm on the first ride and then fighting the harsh rapids on the second. Apparently, it is essential to know how to properly drink Tequila if you want to take on the challenge of grade 5 rapids – read this quick recap to find out why!
We booked a 89€ combination tour, starting with a grade 3 river (Imster Schlucht) and then heading to the challenging grade 5 adventure on the Ötztaler Ache. Both locations are close to Innsbruck in Austria and set in a beautiful alpine landscape. It was my first time on a raft and you don’t really need any special skills for it. There are some requirements to do the grade 5 tour though, as you obviously need to be able to swim and also get back on the raft on your own in case you fall off the raft.
The first day started with a beginner tour and we got some basic introduction from our guides about how to sit in the raft, use the paddles, etc. It does not take long and you find yourself carrying the raft with the rest of your mates to the next entry point of the river. The Imster Schlucht was ideal to get familiar with the environment and our guide explained different orders he might yell out once we hit the harsh water on the following day.
One of these orders is used to make sure that we are able to quickly turn the raft in a 90° angle for the purpose of avoiding big rocks or other obstacles in the last second. In order to achieve this, four people on one side of the raft have to simultaneously bend their bodies backwards as much as they can, putting their heads under water, while the other side of the raft continues to paddle. This motion basically looks like drinking a shot of Tequila and so every time our guide shouted “TEQUILA, RIGHT!”, everyone on the right side had to duck under the water for a couple of seconds.
Not only did we use the Imster Schlucht to practice Tequila shots, but we also had to prove that we are able to jump off the raft and get back on it on our own. This was a requirement of the tour operator to do the grade 5 river on the next day and all of us managed to pass the test. Other than that, we had a great time that day, as the weather conditions made it quite special. The river was surrounded by mountains, the sky turned grey and it began to rain, creating a very special atmosphere. Moments later, thunderstorms crushed down and the growling sound of the thunder made us hurry up as we did not want to get into the middle of the storm 🙂
Reaching the end of the trail, some cars picked us up and drove us to our home for the night – an Alm in the mountains which was completely occupied by our group of nearly 30 people. They served great beer and an amazing buffet for dinner, so naturally everybody was very happy this evening. Especially the traditional Austrian dessert Kaiserschmarrn was incredible and each of us went to sleep with a smile on the face, looking forward to the next day.
The next morning, our tour operator drove us back down the mountain to our starting point of the Ötztaler Ache. I think I was not the only one being at least a bit excited about the upcoming tour as the water of this grade 5 river really looked very wild compared to our entry tour the day before.
We entered the first very harsh rapids after a couple of minutes and everyone suddenly realized that this can not be compared with the first tour. You actually need to focus a hundred percent on your paddling to safely get through the next rapid. Those slowly began to become more difficult as the time passed on and our Boat leader constantly screamed at us in a very motivating way. You could clearly tell he loved his job 🙂
There was also a second guy on board, his role was to rescue anyone who might slip out of the boat, but he luckily had no work to do this time. We spent a good hour on the river and most of the time was pretty action packed as we were cruising through different kind of water formations. From time to time we were able to catch our breath and eventually we reached the end of the tour.
It was an amazing weekend and I’m looking forward to do it again somewhere else next time! Skydiving is still better though 😉