In the summer, we expect Austria to have a network of cable cars providing views of jagged spires, wildflower coated meadows, and slopes criss-crossed with hiking paths. But a Witches' Water Park? This had to be a joke. It turns out that Hexenwasser Hochsoll, which translates to Witches' Water, is set in Soll in the Tyrol province of Austria, under an hour from Innsbruck. You could think of it as an ultra soft adventure park where parents and kids can spend the afternoon or the day experiencing nature and the vitality of water. Clearly, this is unlike anything you might find in Orlando, Florida.
Hexenwasser is given this name because legend has it that witches, who were both revered and feared, had long lived in this land where the women practiced their healing arts. Now, in a bucolic mountain landscape, you can explore dozens of stations spaced along a 1,500-foot-long route where you'll have an intimate experience with the power and therapeutic properties of water. Kneipp treatments are pools where you either immerse your arms to stimulate your circulation, or tread water, which is said to benefit varicose veins.
You can give your feet a reflexology massage by walking across what's considered the longest -- a little over a mile long -- barefoot trail in Austria. Wander along shallow water channels and across various surfaces, including pebbles, grass, and pine bark, as a way to stimulate your feet and your body organs. There's plenty of barefoot walking at Hexenwasser, through pools, ponds and basins.
Try to schedule a visit on a warm, sunny day and remember to take towels and the kids may want bathing suits. Expect invigorating icy cold spring water.
But, aside from the water focus, the park also has an educational aspect, whether it's learning about bee behavior at the apiary, finding out how to bake bread in a stone oven, discover what a day in the life of a woodcutter would be like, and see if you can tell time using a sundial.
Unlike other waterparks, where you have to shell out a wad of cash, here if you decide not to take the cable car up, all the stations are free. The cable car also goes from mid-station to the summit of Hohe Salve peak that offers 360º views of the Tyrol's ragged peaks that pierce the sky.