The world is full of surprises. Our daughter Lina is hanging on to a rope that dangles down from a bridge. Normally, this 11-year-old is a scaredy cat. Today, though, she is excited, with a grin from ear to ear. Lina is abseiling down 50 ft/15 m, and is enjoying every second of the experience.
Clayton, our guide at Adventure World, says that this happens a lot with the kids on the Adventure Day trips that he leads. As he explains, you see the world from a completely different perspective when you are rappelling from this bridge over the Murg River. We are only 90 minutes west of Stuttgart, but deep in the Black Forest. And I have to admit that we are already having more fun and adventures than I expected.
This day out is providing surprise after surprise. And the biggest is our kids! Roman, our son, has already reached the river bed. Of course, the nine-year-old had to go first, as usual. He is never afraid of anything. But he was suspiciously quiet as he held on to the rope, suspended from the bridge. “Are you all right, Roman?” His "Yes" sounded a bit hesitant. This chatterbox is rarely as quiet as during the descent. Only when he reaches the bottom and feels the ground under his feet again we do hear the real Roman!
On this Adventure Day, we are taking on three challenges. First is the full-on adrenalin rush of abseiling down from the bridge. Next is a hike, scrambling along the rocky bed of the Murg. The last challenge is river rafting. That all sounds demanding, but it is, in fact, lots of fun for any children over the age of six.
For me, the hiking along the river took me unawares. I was really looking forward to that. After all, it sounds quite relaxing, like walking along the banks of a rushing stream. But my legs tell a different story. Stepping and sometimes jumping from rock to rock, even pebble to pebble, is quite tiring. Especially as you must always watch where you put your feet.
Most people like to go for a walk to enjoy the views and the scenery in the Murg Valley. And our guide chose a very beautiful part, where huge rocks form pretty pools in the river. As we bound from one chunk of sandstone to a big lump of granite, we have to jump carefully, swinging our arms to propel ourselves. It’s like doing gymnastics! I feel rather clumsy, and am secretly jealous of how easily Lina and Roman leap from stone to stone. But, I bet they will be pretty tired in the evening.
We are in the middle section of this river valley. We started out just below the Schwarzenbach Dam. Now the last challenge on this family Adventure Day starts in Forbach. It’s called Soft Rafting, using inflatable rafts. Instead of taking on waves and wild water, this is fun for all the family, including my wife, Maria. She is a little sceptical at first, but, like Lina in the morning, she is totally fearless when it counts. We are in different boats and, watching from behind, I see how easy it is – if you do it right. The principle is quite simple. Equipped with life jackets and helmets, you kneel in the small inflatable. The person at the back sticks the paddle in the water on one side; the person at the front puts the paddle in on the other side. The experienced guide steers.
I have to admit that our crew thinks that Maria and Lina look really classy, gliding elegantly through the rapids. Instead of watching them, perhaps I should focus more on what we are supposed to do! As soon as we set off, we turn our rubber dinghy 180 degrees. No-one explained about paddling backwards! I am glad that our calm, professional guide is on board to tell us what to do. And it is all really fun. The trip is only about 300 yd/m long, so Roman and I carry on paddling a bit further. I am no expert, but I reckon that we end up being just as good as Lina and Maria!
Report by Mr Monterroso Carneiro, an adventurous Dad
More information about Adventure World, 90 minutes west of Stuttgart: