Adult kids’ playground.
Have you ever heard of the Area 47 in Tyrol? Don’t worry, this post is not about some secret UFO-landingspot in Austria; in fact it’s everything else than a restricted location. It’s the biggest playground for grown ups who are a bit hooked to adrenaline.
It was funny, cause when I first told friends I’d like to go there, I found out that most of my peers, especially my male friends, at least had heard of Area 47. Even the ones who are not really adrenaline junkies knew at least what it is about. The reason might be that they do get a good amount of media coverage due to the fact that the Red Bull Cliff Divers go there to practise. But does it stand up to the hype? Is it a place I can recommend to my friends. The answer is easy: It depends.
The centerpiece of the area is a “lake”, the so-called “water area”. One small part of the small lake is dedicated to a wakeboard lift for beginners, one small part is reserved for swimming and another part is used for the waterslides, a thing that shoots people like cannonballs into the lake, blobbing, a water ramp and a surfslide. Furthermore there’s the offroad area, which provides the best facilities for adventures on motorbikes, in beach buggies or on KTMs. Adventurers who like to get their thrill high up in the air find everything they need at the climbing base. There’s not only the highest high rope course of Europe (27 meters above ground, underneath a bridge) but also a climbing tower, a mega swing (cool, that: you jump off a base, have a free fall and then swing like a pendulum) and a zipline/flying fox.
The so-called “outdoor area” right next to the river that flows trough the area (Ötztaler Ache) is the place where adventures like canyoning, caving and rafting start. But most proud (at least that’s what I think) are the folks there of their new wakeboard area; a huger lake than the small one of the water area and dedicated just to wakeboarding pros. Of course there are restaurants at the area, also you can visit it per single day entrance or just sleep there in one of the tipis, lodges or in a room in one of the three 8-room-houses.
Okay, so now that you have the facts and a picture (and the pictures) of the Area 47 let me tell you how it really was. Well, the water area is a lot smaller than we expected it to be. We stayed there during a long weekend in August and of course there were a lot of people enjoying a day at the lake side. Or pond side. That lead to long waiting times for activities like sliding and blobbing. The lake is – as said before – small, so it’s not possible that for example blobbing and the surfslide are done at the same time; so first it’s the turn of the person at the blob, then you have to wait till he left the water. Then it’s the turn of the surfslider. Waiting till he left the lake… And so on. It almost takes 6 minutes until it’s your blobb-turn, even though you’re the person at the very front. With up to 30 people in line that can lead to waiting times up to 3 hours of waiting in the sun, clothed in wetsuits.
We also did the zipline/flying fox thing. The most spectacular part of it was getting up to the starting platform, cause we had to walk along a swaying plank (of course secured with climbing gear). The zipline/flying fox is nice. But that’s it. It’s slow and the view is interesting (you’re ziplining across the water area), it’s also a good way to find out how good you’re dealing with heights. Which comes in handy as soon as you’re trying your best at the climbing course. That one is really amazing. It offers about four different courses and is well equipped with different obstacles. Trust me: It’s the best arm exercise I ever had.
The rafting adventure was cool too. Our guide, Pat, was unfortunatelly not as funny as he thought he is, but the group was okay and the river perfect for my first rafting experience in like ten years. We jumped into the river, got back into the boat, we paddled, we enjoyed the sun and sometimes we just drifted. Really, really nice – all in all.
One thing we noticed – no matter which activity we had booked – was that we always had to wait. We dubbed the Area 47 “Waiting Area”, because you’re expected to arrive up to 30 minutes before they are scheduled, just to say “hi, I’m here, I didn’t forget about it”. Then you wait. And wait. And wait. But everything is organized really well, you can tell that all of the guides absolutely know what they are doing. We felt safe at all times and during all activities.
Oh, a word on the food: Fantastic. Unexpected awesome. Okay, that was three words on the food. We slept in a hotel room at the area, furnished with warm wooden and high quality furniture, with a balcony and nice bathroom (though there was no hair-dryer, even though you basically spend the whole day either dirty or wet). So better bring lots of towels and your own hairdryer.
I start babbling, so let me come to an end of this. Area 47 is a place where a lot of people put a lot of their heart blood into designing and operating it. It’s perfect for people who want to spend more days (which is definately recommended, cause one day is too short!) of adventure and do like some good parties. Because the vibe there is amazing, most of the visitors are between 25 and 40 (and mostly male!) and up for some good time. It’s perfect for a buddy holiday, not too suited for families with younger kids or people who are not ready to fully indulge in the fun.
One thing I know for sure: I’ll be back, because I sooo want to try offroading and it’s been ages since I’ve been canyoning for the last time. But I also know that I’ll avoid weekens in July and August (as it’s the most popular time there). Oh, and they offer free go-pro rentals!
Ötztaler Achstr. 1
We recommend getting a special package, like the “Rafting and Canyoning Combo”. It includes two nights at the camp, rafting, canyoning, breakfast and free entry to the water area and comes from 182 Euros per person.