The idea of exploring new waters with LWA once again understandably has a certain appeal. And with Andi and Bjarne as whitewater guides, the fun factor is pre-programmed. That's why a small group of wave-enthusiastic pack rafters got together at the campfire on the Soča last year to take part in the Salza 2022 pilot project. For a change, there was no crackling sleeping mat and tent romance waiting for the participants, but rather hut fun and joint cooking evenings. When we found out on arrival that the entire group consisted of old familiar faces, the joy was great. Within a few minutes, deck chairs are moved together, cold drinks are served and the vacation can begin - even though the guides are still paddling and waiting.
About the author:
Mareike, together with her husband Jens, sat in a packraft with us for the first time in 2017. They were so enthusiastic about this premiere that they moved in with two colorful boats shortly afterwards and since then we have been able to welcome them regularly on our courses and tours, most recently mostly in the wild waves of the LWA locations. And so we are very happy that Mareike and Jens immediately got involved with Andi's idea of a whitewater week on the Salza, and that today we can read Mareike's personal view of this very pilot tour.
Thank you very much, Mareike! And see you soon again in the waves
The valley of the Salza was completely unknown to me before. And despite the high season, you can get the impression that it's not just me. Because in this tranquil spot on earth is quite little happening, tourists are sparsely distributed and an idyllic tranquility hangs over the valley. Welcome to the rainiest region in Austria! After a welcome bolognese binge that has been tried and tested several times by LWA and found to be good, plans are made for day one on the water and the anticipation rises.
In the morning we are greeted with bright sunshine - just like every day of the rest of the week. At the first entry point, we discover that the Salza can easily keep up with the Soča - crystal-clear water and turquoise waves sway invitingly around and the water temperature is classified by the participants between "oh, but that's okay" to "it was warmer there at the sinking of the Titanic". Either way, everyone enthusiastically jumps into the rubber boats with more or less water contact and off they go. A short time later we have the spray in the face and pass the first wave trains, we expect white water II-III with a III+ place on a total of almost 14km long route. After the lunch break the river gets narrower and narrower, the rock walls higher and we pass through a scenic gorge. So much for Austria's rainiest region - we are in paradise!
Less paradisiacal is the way back from the exit to home. Announced was a 1.8km walk, which on closer inspection does not stand up to the quite Andi-optimistic calculation. A mutiny can be averted, however, by promising us homemade chocolate mousse for the evening. We are all corruptible.
Day 2 promises similar paddling fun and the weather continues to not let us down. Again a wonderful day with white water II-III and turquoise clear waves. Highlight of the day is the big gush - after the briefing of the previous evening we expect a waterfall at least meters high. From the outside it doesn't look so bad at low water. From the boat, the perspective is then, as so often, but another and the opinion is revised again. No matter if you surf the perfect wave or look at the surge upside down from another angle, every packrafter is received by the group cheering in the sweeping water.
During the lunch break on a quiet, beautiful beach, the opinions about the water temperature divide again. Some jump into the water in a bikini and some in thermal clothes plus dry suit. No matter how - it's fun anyway. The day ends again exuberantly, this time at the barbecue, in the pretty garden of our cottage with a view of the mountains.
Day 3 will be a stroll day. After two wild rides we have earned it. After the merry hut party of the previous evening, maybe it's better that way. And so we take a longer stretch upstream to soak the boats in calmer water - so far up we're all alone. The next 6km literally knock us out. If day one was paradise, what is this? More paradisiacal? Hundred meter high rock walls line the ditch on both sides, in between the here still flat, but charming Salza and we as colorful dots in the middle of it. A comfortable drifting in and beside the boat. During the lunch break we doze in the sun and rave about the landscape - and Andi says: "It's quite beautiful here, isn't it? But the really beautiful gorge is yet to come..." He can tease, you have to hand it to him.
On day 4 we are still satiated from Austrian pastries of the previous evening and highly motivated to get rid of the put on kilos again. Today the big gorge in front of our front door is on the plan. Slowly it becomes difficult with the superlatives. Paradise, more paradisiacal, most paradisiacal? A bizarre beauty with white water III.
What more could you want. You can't decide whether to paddle or look at the landscape. The multitude of surf waves, whirlpools, wave trains and swells, however, forced the focus at some point rather on paddling.
Here you can really let off steam and the crown of the daily crowned capsizing king is passed on. And if you haven't had enough, you can climb onto one of the cliffs and dare to jump into the water from a dizzying height. Equivalent to the water temperature, opinions differ here once again and vary from "that's nothing" to "that's at least 30 meters". Objectively and from below, I could give a reasonably accurate estimate, but you don't have to reveal everything.
The paddling day ends quietly after this spectacle, the current becomes weaker and we finally end up in the reservoir. On the last meters Bjarne makes friends because he hangs some people on his lifeline and pulls them several hundred meters across the lake. However, Bjarne also makes enemies on the last meters, because he does not hang other people on his lifeline and pulls them. Plans are made to get the guide out of the boat. Because one thing always stands out: This particular species of whitewater guides is conspicuously afraid of the water.
However, the acts of revenge are forgotten in the evening when the Swabian serves the group homemade cheese spaetzle. There you can only be in a good mood.
Day 5 - crazy - and already the last day has dawned. That went way too fast, we felt yesterday only arrived and sipped the first cold drink in the deck chair. To let the week end properly there are only highlights today. You might think that this will get boring at some point. But this is not the case, only a certain exuberance spreads. The paddling day starts with the second part of day one and ends with the canyon from yesterday. That means 13km of pure fun. And three paddle strokes later it is nevertheless already over again.
The Salzavalley, supposedly so full of rain, has graced us with sunshine for a week and given us many new paddling experiences. And so, after a sporty, fun and spectacular week, we all part somewhat melancholy on Saturday. Perhaps due to the culinary excesses also a little ponderous.
In any case, one thing is certain: this was certainly not our last trip to paradise.
If you now want to jump with us into the waves of the Salza: There will be a repeat of this special whitewater week with Hüttengaudi in July 2023.
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