When you talk to most people, you find that they are more than likely to have heard of various outdoor activities such as rock climbing, water rafting, mountaineering, and hiking. But what about canyoning?
Have you heard of it?
Canyoning is the sport of exploring a canyon in a number of ways including rappelling, rafting, and even waterfall jumping.
It is a sensational mix of adrenaline, physical challenge, and nature that many people claim has changed their lives.
It’s challenging to find that statement hard to believe when you spend an entire day trekking through waterfalls, gorges, and unique rock formations.
To get a taste of the views we’re talking about and a visual representation of what a day of canyoning looks like, check out this YouTube video by Mirko and Stephano Tulli for inspiration.
If you’re ready to take the next step and venture into the world of canyoning, we’ve got you covered. Here is everything you need to know about canyoning before planning your own excursion.
So, what exactly are you getting yourself into?
1. Think of white water rafting without the raft, and there you have canyoning! That may sound a little scary and you may imagine throwing yourself into a raging river- that is not it but you will be getting yourself into some water.
2. Canyoning is also known as gorge walking and will require you to swim through rock pools, climb over rocks, slide in between rocks- get ready to forge a new relationship with rocks!
3. There are other things you could also be taking on based on who you are going with. Guides are famous for helping people repel or even jump cliffs and it is not uncommon to be taken crawling or climbing through unique rock formations.
These things usually require local knowledge and rope skills (hence, the guide who knows what he/she’s doing).
The American Canyoneering Association can help you find a great guide to the location you are wanting to go canyoning.
4. You are going to be getting yourself into a pretty rigorous hike, so at least a base level of fitness is required as some points are more than likely to require intense effort.
Felicia Poh talks in depth about her experience canyoning and gives some valuable personal advice from a beginners perspective.
What will you need for canyoning?
If you are going with a guide they should be providing the equipment for you, however, there are some things you can do to prepare for it yourself.
- Wear quick dry material (you likely to get wet)
- Some canyoning requires a wetsuit
- You want sneakers with a flat sole and good grip
- PACK SNACKS AND WATER! You will be expending a lot of energy out there and it will be in your best interests to pack some snacks to avoid an energy crash and water to avoid dehydration.
- Bring your friends. It’s fun when you have people you know to share the experience with
- Prepare yourself for the weather
- If you want to take photos, grab a waterproof camera
- Bonus points if you stick a print out of the common canyoneering hand signs to communicate with your guide in your backpack (in case of emergency)
What if you have climbing experience and want to go it alone or with friends?
Going alone is never really recommended as this can be a high-risk activity.
If you go alone make sure you notify a trusted source of your whereabouts and a time to expect you back. As far as gear, you will need everything stated about plus:
- a helmet
- first aid kit
- possible wetsuit and buoyancy aid
- any of your climbing gear you might want if you will also be climbing
It is important to make sure you know exactly where you are going and that your group can rely on one another in case of an emergency.
What if you want to learn canyoning so you can take more adventurous routes?
It is recommended that if you intend to become skilled when it comes to canyoning you learn from a professional.
A professional will teach you in-depth safety techniques and teach you to accurately assess the environment you put yourself in.
They will more than likely provide you with a canyoning kit (including all the essentials) to get you started.
Once you’ve gained enough skill your guide should be able to point you in the direction of the best local spots for you to practice at and after you become comfortable with safety precautions and technique you can move on to bigger and more challenging routes.
Where are the best places to go canyoning?
There are many canyoning destinations throughout the world that are incredibly scenic and can show you things you didn’t even know existed. Some of the best spots include the following:
- Zion National Park, Utah
- Agawa Canyon, Canada
- Kawasan Falls, Philippines
- Antelope Canyon, Arizona
- Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
- Nuy River Gorge, South Africa
- Copper Canyon, Mexico
- Grand Canyon, Arizona
Some of these places can be considered pretty extravagant but in reality, all you need to go canyoning is a decent sized gorge system and either a guide or the right experience!
If you made it through this list and want to give canyoning a try (we think everyone should) check out your local scene and see what’s closest to you.
If you know you’re going to have to travel, there’s no time like the present and taking a trip to go canyoning will create memories that last a lifetime.
If you want to prepare in advance but aren’t in an ideal geographical location, consider finding an indoor climbing gym in your area to get you in climbing shape and familiar with using ropes.
Always remember- do your research, keep it safe, and have fun!