Climbing monkeys and flying foxes – in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

August 15, 2015 by  
Filed under Austria, Cycling, featured, Leisure, Nature, Walking

“We all have a little monkey in us from way back”, jokes Hervé Chayrou, the owner and our instructor at Hornpark, a treetop adventure playground with 8 aerial courses and 14 zip wires over a lake. We’re gathered at a social get together on the first evening of Alpine Sports Week in the Wilder Kaiser valley of Austria, hearing about all the outdoor activities on offer including high wire climbing, mountain-biking and canyoning.

Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Heather and Michael from Bemused Backpacker – Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

But I’m not quite sure whether I will re-discover my “Little Monkey” on the Hornpark high wire course. I’ve heard of similar treetop courses like Go Ape in the UK where my kids might go for an adventurous birthday party. Normally my happy place is an Alpine hiking trail, preferably with blue skies and brilliant sunshine and a mountain hut where I can order a cold beer and admire the view. I may have walked the Tour de Mont Blanc and tried a Via Ferrata, but the high wire course is definitely stretching my climbing abilities.

I hope you enjoy my video below about the Alpine Sports in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

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Heather fitted with climbing harness at Hornpark, Wilder Kaiser Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather fitted with climbing harness at Hornpark, Wilder Kaiser

In the cosy hut we are fitted out with helmets and climbing harnesses and the instructor checks that they are tightly fitted. Not the most flattering or comfortable of rigouts with the loops tight around your thighs and the waistband cutting in above your hips.

Next comes the most important part – the safety training. Since we are going to be high up in the treetops performing daring climbing manoevres, it’s good to know that the cables, ropes and carabiners are there to save you if you fall. But at the end of the day it’s also down to how well you follow the safety procedures and golden rules of climbing.

Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Rule number 1 – there are always 2 separate carabiners (metal clips) and they clip to the safety wire in opposite directions so you can never accidentally unclip them both at once.

Rule number 2 – as you clip and unclip the carabiner, you always keep one hand on the safety wire.

Rule number 3 – the carabiners are colour coded red-to-red and green-to-green and match the place where you clip them, either onto a safety wire or onto the metal slider you use when on the flying fox.

With these and a few other golden safety rules swimming around my head we practice on the ground with the instructor to get the hang of what we will soon be trying high in the treetops.

Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

We move on to the beginner course which doesn’t seem too tough. The gaps from tree to tree are quite short and the platforms not far off the ground. There are a few wobbly moments, but confidence is high. Then I realise that this course is just so the instructors can check we are doing it correctly. Just a warmup really!

Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Moving onto the green beginner level rope course feels a bit different. Suddenly I have to reach a little further, bend and twist my knees awkwardly and use tummy muscles I didn’t know I had. Just to get up to the first platform I have to scale a climbing wall which only reveals how my weak my arm muscles really are.

Crossing the tightrope wires isn’t too stressful so long as I focus on every step. In between I inch carefully around the small wooden platfrorm, carefully clipping and unclipping the carabiners as I’ve been taught. The most tricky bit is crossing the wooden poles that swing from chains. My knees shake as I attempt to step from one unstable pole to the next. Where I have two choices, I decide against the skateboard which zips across the gap and step gingerly across some wooden blocks instead.

Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Climbing at Horn Park in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

After the first green course I move onto the intermediate blue course and this time it all feels a lot more dodgy. The climbing wall at the beginning reminds me that I should really get back to the gym and build up my upper body strength which is frankly pathetic. I try the zipwire and manage to end up lower than the platform with my legs waving like a spider. After a few minutes dangling there, I in-elegantly maneouvre my legs up onto the platform and haul myself up like a sack of potatoes.

Once back on the ground I watch another member of the group who has dared to try the much harder red course. I can barely watch as he eventually makes it across the wooden poles swinging in a zig zag pattern and finally gets down sweating with fear and exertion.

Zip wire at Horn Park, Wilder Kaiser

Zip wire at Horn Park, Wilder Kaiser

The best bit of the day is at the end when we try the longer ‘flying fox’ zip-wires that criss-cross the lake, having built up our confidence and trust in the equipment. Earlier I watched, as one girl dangled just short of the platform and had to be winched down by an instructor. Thankfully I fly across the lake and just make it onto the wooden platform although there is still a bit of hauling up to be done on the rope. I find that each zipwire is actually a series of zipwires which takes you in stages, gradually down to ground level.

Zip wire at Horn Park, Wilder Kaiser

Zip wire at Horn Park, Wilder Kaiser

The final zip-wire starts high just by the cable car station and ends in the treetops the other side. By now I feel like an old hand – this could get addictive! I’m tempted to have just one more go on the zip wire but realise I should know my limits.

How do I sum up the day on the high wire? Scary but exhilarating and if here’s a little monkey in all of us, I think I found mine today!

Read about my day of Mountain-biking in Wilder Kaiser

Read more articles about Alpine Sports in Wilder Kaiser

Bemused Backpacker – Experiencing the Wilder Kaiser Alpine Sports Week in Austria
Scarlett London – Wilder Kaiser region in Austria
Daniellicacy – Wilder Kaiser, Austria
Emtalks – Exploring Austria – the Wilder Kaiser Region, Tirol
Borders of Adventure – Climbing in Austria – alternative views in Tirol of the Kitzbuheler Alps

Want to try Alpine Sports Week yourself?

Heather tried out her outdoor activities as part of Alpine Sports Week in Wilder Kaiser. This special week long event allows you to try out 6 different mountain sports over 6 days under the guidance of expert instructors at a special price of €99 (normally €358). In addition to the high rope course and mountain-biking that Heather tried you can go canyoning, trail running and do a Via Ferrata. Sign up here for more information.

All of these activities are also available throughout the summer to try as you like. In addition the region is a paradise for hikers with many day walks as well as multi-day hut-to-hut walks of 3 to 5 days in length.

You can spend a day on the high wire like the one Heather tried at Hornpark in St Johann in Tirol, Austria for €29 per day (adults) including lift pass and all equipment and safety instruction – check their website and Facebook page.

For more information on things to do in Wilder Kaiser visit the Wilder Kaiser tourism website and their social media channels on their BlogTwitter | Facebook | Instagram | Google+. More information about things to do in the Tirol region of Austria on the Tirol tourism website.

How to get to Wilder Kaiser

Heather flew from Bristol to Munich with BMI Regional who fly 12 times each week on this route, so you often have a choice of 2 flights per day. The ticket includes 20kg checked baggage and full at-seat in-flight bar and snack service at no extra charge.

Transfers from Munich to Wilder Kaiser take around 1.5 hours and can be arranged through Four Seasons Travel who have a desk at the airport. Alternatively Innsbruck airport is around 1 hour drive from Wilder Kaiser.

Hotel Sonnenhof

Where to stay in Wilder Kaiser

Heather stayed at the comfortable, family run Vitel and Panorama Hotel Sonnenhof in Going. This four star hotel is furnished traditionally with plenty of Tyrolean wood and has a spa and indoor swimming pool. I enjoyed the hearty breakfast spread with a full selection of muesli, fruit, nutty German breads and freshly cooked omlettes as well as fresh juices, honeycomb and anything else you would wish for. Check prices and book your stay here.

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Read about climbing at Hornpark in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Thanks to Wilder Kaiser Tourist Board who hosted Heather’s stay and provided the experiences mentioned and to BMI regional who provided Heather’s flight to Munich.

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

A dangerously beautiful hike in British Columbia

July 25, 2015 by  
Filed under Canada, featured, Guest post, Leisure, Misc, Nature, Photography, World

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Our guest author, Dana Sibilsky takes a hike in the beautiful woods of British Columbia that proves more dangerous than she anticipated when she finds signs of bear activity along the trail.

In 2013, my husband and I made the mutual decision to spice up our lives together and really venture out to see what the world has to offer. With this decision, we agreed to travel at least twice a year; one place within the first half of the year (January-June) and another place within the second half of the year (June-December).

In our journey to explore the world together, we have visited nearly all of the United States and only half of Canada. The world is big and we aren’t even halfway through yet! If you were to ask what is the most beautiful place we’ve been to, it would without a doubt be British Columbia, Canada. If you have ever seen pictures, no photo nor video does this incredible place justice because you simply must be there to FEEL the atmosphere.

Beautiful British Columbia

The air seems cleaner, fresher and easier to breathe with a certain natural “crispness” to it that my husband and I have not found anywhere else in our travels. The water seems to be more pure, more fresh with the same crispness that makes you say to yourself, “This is the way it’s meant to be. What have we done to our world in other places?”

Sunset over British Columbia mountains Photo: danasibilsky.com

Sunset over British Columbia mountains

Through our travel in British Columbia, we hiked until we came to our destination at the well-known and popular Three Valley Gap Hotel. Oh my, if you could just see the scenery of nature that surrounds this place. There’s a saying that we kept hearing while visiting that went something like, “Out here, you are normally no further than 20 feet from a bear at all times.” I’m not sure how true it is or if they were just trying to scare us knowing we weren’t locals from around the area.

The wildlife is just as spectacular as the surrounding scenery. My husband and I (but honestly mostly my husband) wanted a closer look at the the wildlife. “What is the point of coming 2000 miles out here if we are just going to sit in a hotel?” he questioned. “Let’s venture out to see what we can never see at home.” With that said, we got a nature tour guide and began to explore the surrounding wooded area at least 3 miles away from the comfort of our hotel. At first, walking through the thickness of the brush and woods was intimidating. What if we saw a bear? What if we ran into a pack of wolves or coyotes? I remembered hearing stories from our friends in Toronto and Mississauga about coyotes running freely through the city in 2010. The more we tracked through the woods, the more comfortable I became until the tour guide stopped us in our tracks.

The look on our guide’s face was the look of fear and nervousness he was trying his best to hide for our sake. “Is everything ok?” I asked him, touching his arm gently in concern. “You look like there is a problem.” With a shaky hand he was trying to control, he pointed to the tree in front of us roughly 10 feet away and said, “Bear.”

Bear sighting

My eyes widened as my head quickly snapped to the general direction he was pointing. The tree had claw and teeth marks on it and was missing chunks of bark. Bears do this to mark territory and possession of their favorite trees. These marks usually are present on other trees given by the same bear in a trail. This helps the bear find its way back to wherever it came from.

Signs of bear activity Photo: danasibilsky.com

Signs of bear activity

I was stone cold in fear and to tell you anything different would be a complete lie! I couldn’t move. The thought that I could possibly be standing in or near a bear’s nest shut down all of my motor mechanics such as my ability to walk and open my fear-clenched fists into open palms.

In the distance, I could hear my husband calling me. “Dana!” I heard him say. I wanted to look at him, but the fear was overpowering me. I heard him shout in a louder, projecting voice. This time, my head jerked toward him as the guide and I let out a harsh “SHHHH!” toward him simultaneously. “Are you out of your mind?!” said the guide, “We are in the danger zone of a bear’s or group of bears’ territory! Keep quiet!” he instructed my husband. “We need to go. Now!” the guide said. We didn’t hesitate! The tour guide, my husband and myself double-timed it to the hotel as quickly, quietly and safely as we could.

Make lasting memories

Fast forward 2 years later. Isn’t it interesting that the worst moments in our lives at that particular time turn out to be the most memorable? The moments we believe are the downfall of our day, the ones we say we could do without at the moment they are happening are the very same moments that become the memories we wouldn’t change for anything. The moments we look back on months or years later and can’t help but to laugh and smile to ourselves. Being in a dangerous position having trespassed through bear territory was one of those moments.

Lasting memories in British Columbia Photo: danasibilsky.com

Lasting memories in British Columbia

If you haven’t visited the British Columbia side of Canada, what are you waiting for? It is, without a shadow of a doubt the most beautiful, refreshing and enlightening adventure you could ever take no matter if you’re alone or with those you love. Just a word of advice: Don’t go exploring without an experienced nature tour guide!

Author bio: Many thanks for this article to Dana Sibilsky, a stay-at-home mother of three prides and joys. When she isn’t giving her family their needed attention, she enjoys traveling and blogging her art on her sites.

Visit the #explorecanada official Canada Tourism Website for more information on things to do in British Columbia and Vancouver Island as well as their social media channels on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

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Bristish Columbia Pinterest

For more Canadian adventures:

Where to Watch Wildlife in British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver Island – A Nature Lover’s Paradise
How to Enjoy a Great Day in Victoria, BC

Photo credit: Dana Sibilsky

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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Heather goes e-mountain-biking in Wilder Kaiser, Austria – video

During my previous hikes in the Alps I got to know those pesky mountain-bikers only too well. On the Tour de Mont Blanc I’d seen them whizz by, spraying gravel and mud or weaving between the pine trees in a flash of luminous lycra. Give me a nice, gentle cycle ride, I thought, through rolling vineyards with a glass of chilled white wine at the end of the trail. Mountain-biking seemed just too much like hard work.

Mountian Biking in Wilder Kaiser as part of Alpine Sports Week Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Mountian Biking in Wilder Kaiser as part of Alpine Sports Week

But here I was in Wilder Kaiser, the eastern corner of the Tirol region of Austria, with plenty of gorgeous mountain scenery that just begged for some mountain-biking.

I hope you enjoy my video below about the Alpine Sports in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

If you can’t see the video above of the Alpine Sports in Wilder Kaiser, Austria, see it on my blog here or Youtube here and please do subscribe using the button above

Click here for direct download of video
Subscribe to all my videos in I-tunes
If you enjoyed this video, check out the others in my Video archive

I’d come for the annual Alpine Sports Week that gives hikers like me a chance to try out some of the other outdoor activities on offer. Each day the group would try a different activity, from high rope climbing to canyoning, trail-running to Via Ferratta and of course mountain-biking. The best thing is that during Alpine Sports Week, the 5 days of activities are on offer for the knock-down price of €99.

Cable Car in Wilder Kaiser, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cable Car in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

For mountain-biking without tears I had a secret weapon, an e-bike which enables you to pedal up the steepest mountain with ease, prompting envious looks from those poor souls who have gone for the traditional bike option. My e-bike had a small motor attached to the frame which cut in whenever the going got tough. At the press of a button I could go into sports mode, touring mode or turbo mode to muster up some extra oomph on the hills. Suddenly mountain-biking seemed a much more attractive proposition; less sweat and more time to admire the view.

Mountian Biking in Wilder Kaiser as part of Alpine Sports Week Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Mountian Biking in Wilder Kaiser as part of Alpine Sports Week

At Going Bike, we were kitted out with helmets, gloves and water bottles, then followed our leader Markus who runs mountain-bike tours in this valley. The path ran beside a stream, then we cycled up a bit of a hill and 20 minutes later reached the cable car station down the valley. Thank goodness that we could load the bikes into the cable car and reach the top of the mountain without even breaking into a sweat, taking in the views on the way. In no time at all we were at the upper cable car station, a surprisingly busy place, with a childrens’ playground, cafe and trampoline.

Mountian Biking in Wilder Kaiser as part of Alpine Sports Week Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Mountian Biking in Wilder Kaiser as part of Alpine Sports Week

Before we were let loose on the mountain, we had a talk on how to ride down safely. According to Markus the trick is to keep your feet parallel on the pedals and to lean back, with your ‘aaarsh’ at the back of the seat. We set off down the mountain with iron-man Markus leading the way, joking and laughing although you could tell that he was a hard-core sporty type and not taking any prisoners. I’d have loved to pause to take a few more photos and enjoy the Alpine views but there was no stopping Markus.

Wilder Kaiser in Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Alpine views in Wilder Kaiser in Austria

The tracks we followed downhill were broad and surprisingly manageable although you had to concentrate to avoid skidding on the gravel. For most of the time I was freewheeling downhill, growing in confidence all the time, taking in the views when I had the courage to glance up from the path. I’d love to have stopped in those Alpine meadows, with lush green grass sprinkled with purple clover, yellow buttercups and lacy white flowers, but Markus was insistent in his quest to get us down the mountain.

At the halfway point we stopped at a mountain restaurant and enjoyed a well-earned rest and some hearty dumpling soup for lunch. The sun was out and we all sat at one big table beside the cable car station where the cute red cable cars were strung up the mountain like beads on a necklace.

Stopping for lunch in Wilder Kaiser, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Stopping for lunch in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

After filling up the water bottles, we were off again down the mountain, a line of bikes following down the winding trails. Only one lady skidded and fell at a sharp bend while I managed to topple over in a rather undignified fashion when I came to a halt but couldn’t touch the ground.

By early afternoon we reached the bottom of the mountain and arrived again at the cycle shop. As Markus took my bike he patted me on the back, and told me; “You are a warrior woman, it was hard but you never gave up!” Pleased with my efforts, despite a stiff ‘aarsh’, aching thighs and wobbly knees I was happy to bask in his praise, although secretly I knew the e-bike had done most of the work.

Read about my day of tree-top climbing and zip wires in Wilder Kaiser

Outdoor activities in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Heather tried out her outdoor activities as part of Alpine Sports Week in Wilder Kaiser. This special week long event allows you to try out 6 different mountain sports over 6 days under the guidance of expert instructors at a special price of €99 (normally €358). Add your details to their mailing list here to get more details for next year. In addition to the high rope course and mountain-biking that Heather tried you can go canyoning, trail running and do a Via Ferrata. Sign up here for more information.

All of these activities are also available throughout the summer to try as you like. In addition the region is a paradise for hikers with many day walks as well as multi-day hut-to-hut walks of 3 to 5 days in length. A similar mountain-bike tour to the one Heather enjoyed can be booked through Going Bike who rent e-bikes and other bikes from their shop in Going and run group tours.

For more information on things to do in Wilder Kaiser visit the Wilder Kaiser tourism website and their social media channels on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ and keep up with latest news on the Wilder Kaiser blog. More information about things to do in the Tirol region of Austria on the Tirol tourism website.

Read more articles about Alpine Sports Week

Bemused Backpacker – Real Mountain-biking and Cultural awakening in Tirol
Scarlett London – Exploring Tirol by Bike
Daniellicacy – Wilder Kaiser, Austria – Mountain Biking
Emtalks – Exploring Austria – the Wilder Kaiser Region, Tirol

How to get to Wilder Kaiser

Heather flew from Bristol to Munich with BMI Regional who fly 12 times each week on this route, so you often have a choice of 2 flights per day. The ticket includes 20kg checked baggage and full at-seat in-flight bar and snack service at no extra charge.

Transfers from Munich to Wilder Kaiser take around 1.5 hours and can be arranged through Four Seasons Travel who have a desk at the airport. Alternatively Innsbruck airport is around 1 hour drive from Wilder Kaiser.

Hotel Sonnenhof

Heather stayed at Panorama Hotel Sonnehof in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Where to stay in Wilder Kaiser

Heather stayed at the comfortable, family run Vitel and Panorama Hotel Sonnenhof in Going. This four star hotel is furnished traditionally with plenty of Tyrolean wood and has a spa and indoor swimming pool. I enjoyed the hearty breakfast spread with a full selection of muesli, fruit, nutty German breads and freshly cooked omlettes as well as fresh juices, honeycomb and anything else you would wish for. Check prices and book your stay here.

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Read about e-mountainbiking in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Thanks to Wilder Kaiser Tourist Board who hosted Heather’s stay and provided the experiences mentioned and to BMI regional who provided Heather’s flight to Munich.

Click to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, news and reader offers

HOHT newsletter

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

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