Austria: central europe’s paddling paradise......
So now I am back in the UK (for now) after spending the last five and a half months in Austria. If you have never been there before Austria is a fantastic place for a range of paddling.
In terms of freestyle kayaking, (park and play style) the city of Graz, provides a low and high water summer playspot with warm water pleasant city surroundings, and extremely friendly and welcoming community of local kayakers. I am lead to believe the night life is also entertaining although I did not experience it first hand.
(Graz, low water hole)
There is of course plenty of fantastic downriver freestyle opportunities in the province of Tirol, (where I spent the majority of my time). And if you are lucky with the water levels even a small play wave in Silz.
And of course the main attraction of Austria is Steep continuos whitewater. Whilst most of the best runs are fairly short, usually less than 15 kilometres there are all largely non-stop runs with little opportunity to scout ahead. Water levels are usually highest in the evenings, which is perfect as you can come off the river as a raft guide, load up the car and drive to the put on. These are usually within an hours drive of Otz which is one of the bigger towns in the area.
There are also a few good ‘mission’ rivers where the drive is over an hour (a long way for Austria), rivers such as the Rissbach and the Brandonburger are fantastic rivers although a little further away.
There is even opportunity for Stand up paddling on some of Austria’s beautiful lakes and easier rivers.
So if that wasn’t enough to entice you to come to Austria then you really haven’t heard the best part. As it is one of the most central alpine countries, if you are based there you are really only a few hours Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Slovenia, and the Czech republic. So if you get fed up of the amazing whitewater you can just load up and pop over to one of these places for a while. AND that also means events like the ICF freestyle worlds were not a long way to go, or races like the Teva Extreme games, or the Devils extreme race are within touching distance.
Austria is awesome, the people are friendly, the food is great, the beer is tasty, it is very easy to work out where to go kayaking and if you get bored of it you can go to one of the many other neighbouring alpine nations. Whilst the paddling may not be as good a quality as in Norway, the coffee not as good as Italy, and the scenery not as impressive as Switzerland Austria still has a lot going for it and if you have never been there then I couldn’t recommend any other Alpine nation more.
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