Packrafting the Tagliamento river in Italy has been on our wish list for a while now. When our friend and kayaker Hans Meier from the River Store told us about his planed trip early July and asked us to come along, it didn’t take long for us to say yes :-)
We met at the train station in Venzone which is right next to the river and a convenient start for an easy packrafting trip. Further upstream, the Tagliamento is a bit more technical and also has the highway right next to it, making it less scenic.
From Venzone it is a class I/II paddle, with the main danger being trees and strainers in the river. We took our kids along and for the first time split them up into 2 rafts. On previous packrafting trips, we always used either the Oryx or the Forager since most of the time I had to hold / take care / entertain the kids. But since I also like to paddle, we decided to try two packrafts this time, the Forager with Seon and 2 kids and a Gnarwhal that I would paddle with 1 kid. If the plan didn't work out, we could always roll up the Gnarwhal and stick everything inside the cargofly of the Forager.
Since we arrived in Venzone in the evening, we set up camp next to the river and started paddling downstream the next morning. The landscape was stunning, with the big riverbed of the Taglimento in the middle of high mountains that gradually opened up more and more.
Anybody driving from Austria to Italy probably has seen the Tagliamento and it’s wide riverbed, and it was exciting to do a change of perspective and be on the river. We paddled about 20kms that day, the current was fast and only a couple of times we needed to portage artificial steps on the river.
For the night camp, you could just pick the spot you most liked, there was plenty of choice! Unfortunately heavy thunderstorm forced us into our tents early that night, but the next morning was clear and sunny again.
The next day, we continued towards the ocean, until the little village of Dignano. With the current flow, we knew that the Tagliamento would go underground just a bit after Dignano, so we decided to take out and cover that part by bus and get on the river again on the last bit before it joined the Ocean near Lignano. You can check the flow at Venzone here. During our trip, the flow was between 0,31m-0,25m.
Lunchbreak! When you come throught this narrow part under a bridge, there is a campground with a tasty restaurant on river left!
After the rain of the previous night, this evening recompensed with a breathtaking sunset sky!
Paddling the last bit on the Tagliamento was different again, almost no current required strong paddling. The mountains were far away and the heat was heavy. The idea was to paddle until the river mouthes into the sea, but otherwise I think the upper parts are certainly more worthwhile paddling :-)
Considering that there seem to be trails and small roads next to the river, and that the river goes under surface for a stretch most time of the year, we want to take our bikes next time and repeat the trip as a bike rafting trip!
Happy little packrafter :-)
If you want to read more about packrafting with kids, check our Family Packrafting Guide.
Blog Post by Michaela Crockford-Laserer
Co-Founder Packraft Europe