Beatrice and I are slowly getting the hang of it. Our course gets more and more straight and streamlined. More and more we can take in and enjoy the beautiful surroundings around us. River Drava is murky, its grey-green band winds through the still green valley and the mountain peaks laugh promisingly down on us. Again and again, we see cyclists on the banks and curious strollers waving to us from the bridges.
Beatrice sits in front and sets the pace, while I sit at the rear end of the canoe and am responsible for the direction. And although we have never paddled together in a canoe before, the initial slalom run soon turns into a leisurely run. We communicate less and less about our position in the Drava. Most of the time we are just very quiet and the paddling movements are the only noises we hear besides the quiet flow of the river.
Our arms get used to the unusual movements and it becomes a routine. It becomes almost meditative to move the paddle in the cool water. I notice how I become calmer with each arm pull. If someone had told me before the trip that paddling is more relaxing than strenuous, I would have probably shaken my head and not believed a word. I feel decelerated, focused and let my thoughts slip away at the same time.
And just as I let my eyes wander through the landscape, lost in thought, my eyes get caught at a point on the nearby bank. Something happens there and at first, I only recognize rapid movements. As we get a little closer, a deer with magnificent antlers appears. He has probably toppled over something and fallen into the river getting entangled in the branches of the trees and bushes. He seems very helpless and fights against the green stuff that has knotted itself with his antlers. Beatrice and I are already thinking out loud how we could help the animal. But to be honest, I don't want to get close to the antlers of a restless deer. As if the deer had heard our conversation from the distance, he pulls again violently, can free himself and runs away. Beatrice and I look at each other and probably think at the same time how bizarre that just was.
Afterwards, we dock at a small place to stretch our legs and have a snack. Drau Oasis is the perfect place to enjoy a small picnic and swing a few rounds on the swing before getting back on the water.
Further information about the Drava Paddle Trail
No matter if you are an experienced paddler or even a Standup Paddle Boarder or newcomer, the Drava Paddle Trail is suitable for almost everyone. As the water is mostly calm and without any dangerous rapids, it is ideal if you want to give paddling a first chance.
I find the concept of the Drava Paddle Trail ingenious and just a wonderful project brought to life. You can rent a canoe, SUP or kayak and can also arrange a shuttle for drop off and pick up. After a short introduction, you'll be ready to get in the water. Of course, the guides will also help you with the planning of the tours and the associated logistics.
The Drava Paddle Trail project is to be completed in the coming years, with over 320 river kilometres to be paddled from Lienz in East Tyrol to Ptuj in Slovenia.
So far the first stages have been completed as three day trips and can be explored since this year. But even if you don't want to paddle a whole day's stages, there are several sections to explore in a couple of hours. On our journey through Carinthia we paddled from Oberdrauburg with a stop at the Drauoase to Berg im Drautal and on a later day also from Sachsenburg to Spittal.
What other activities can you experience in the region?
The nearby Weißensee is ideal for a short – or even longer – visit. No matter whether it is a relaxed, extensive walk around the lake or a hike in the surrounding mountains, it is a place to feel good, switch back and enjoy.
Have you ever tried eMountainbiking? After I had discarded my prejudices against eBikes and actually had a lot of fun, I could imagine that one or the other of you would feel the same way. In Carinthia there is a good network of rental stations and power outlets.
Carinthia is the province with the most lakes in Austria and offers divers exciting and various dive sites at almost any time of the year. Whether it's observing eels at Afritzer See, marvelling at pike and catfish in the Millstätter See, or in the winter, ice diving at the Weißensee and trying something completely different.
Where are your favourite spots for kayaking and SUP? Tell me in the comments, I am as always curious!
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