One of the extreme sports practices that has become more important in recent years is canyoning . A type of sport that is carried out along ravines or canyons in which a series of obstacles can be found that must be passed in order to finish. It is a practice that puts man in direct contact with nature and with the environment, facing various natural risks such as rivers and small waterfalls.


What is canyoning?

Canyoning is an exploratory sport that involves descending a gorge using different types of techniques and methods including walking, swimming, and even climbing.


What does it consist of

This type of sport is classified as adventure and can be done in rivers or in canyons located in the mountains . It is a sport that puts the participant in contact with other disciplines such as hiking and mountaineering and even with water sports , such as swimming , depending on the place where it is performed.


Canyoning consists of being able to advance carefully and with a lot of technique along different rivers, canyons and ravines. These ravines may have very low water levels or are sometimes quite dry. The practice also includes descending or ascending the edges of the waterfalls , which will always have different heights. The progression that is made in canyoning will always be following the river bed or the direction of the water.

Canyoning characteristics

Among the most representative characteristics of this type of sport we mention the following:

  • In addition to being considered an adventure sport, it is also high risk .
  • It demands a lot of different skills from those who do it.
  • It involves a strong cardiovascular work .
  • It is a semi-aquatic sport .
  • Participants must find a way to cross different types of obstacles , most of them natural.
  • The journey is always done following the path of the water in the river.
  • It is common to find gorges , large rocks , waterfalls , rivers and slopes along the way.


Since historical times , this type of sport has been practiced, although not under the same name. In ancient times, the men who inhabited the planet had to go on great adventures to be able to move to other places or even in search of food. Already in more modern times, it was Jean-Jaques Rousseau who, in 1761 , created the term canyoning or mountaineering , as it is more generally known. From that moment on, the sport began to take a completely different course.

In the 1950s and 1980s , this type of activity was further introduced into the sports environment, mainly after the discovery of one of the best places to practice this activity, the Sierra de Guara located in Spain . In 1980 , the activity had become a sport more practiced by many athletes who love extreme adventure and every day it attracted more public to its practice.


The technique to be able to perform canyoning is relatively simple and the first thing to learn is to find the easiest and most comfortable way to finish the tour, this implies looking for shallower areas in the rivers. In this case, it is important to let yourself be carried away by the current and not swim against it as this will allow the participant to advance. In shallower places it is recommended to walk slowly or even float .

An also important technique is known as opposition and consists of avoiding too deep waters that could pose a danger to the athlete. It is important to look for walls where the body can also be supported so that, with one hand, it can hold onto one wall and with the other, the opposite wall.

Helping with the hands and being able to walk with a low position is important as this technique will help maintain better balance or reestablish stability if necessary. Learning to avoid jumps in places that are slippery is best and maintaining eye contact with the group is essential to maintain safety at all times .

The grip of the rocks , if you have to descend a wall, should be well used, when the descent is easy, it must be done with the face facing the void , but, if the descent is complicated, it is best to do it with the face watching the rock wall.

Where to practice canyoning

This type of sport can be practiced in any place where there is the presence of canyons or ravines , mountains , rivers and their channels as well as a series of natural obstacles along the way.

How ravines are classified

The ravines are classified depending on their level of difficulty , in this way we can find the following classifications of ravines:

  • Very easy : there are no rappels, no rope needed and no water.
  • Easy : there are access rappels, climbing steps, swimming in calm waters, small jumps.
  • Little difficult : verticals with slight flow, access rappels, technical walking, swimming, jumps and slides with slight slopes.
  • Quite difficult : verticals with medium flow, difficult to access rappels, greater climbing steps, longer permanence in the water, medium currents, siphons and steep slopes.
  • Difficult : verticals of medium or strong flow, difficult descent, presence of pots on the descent, long stay in water, progression in strong currents, difficulties related to rivers, difficult jumps.
  • Very difficult: strong or very strong flows, consistent waterfalls, natural anchorages, difficult rappelling , unstable supports, rivers with strong currents, water movements, wide and technical siphon.
  • Extremely difficult : the verticals have extremely strong flows, the waterfalls are consistent, the visibility limited, frequent obstacles, intense water movements, strong currents, violent waters.


Several canyoning competitions are held throughout the year worldwide and are done by athletes locally and some in other countries.


The necessary equipment to be able to practice canyoning in a completely safe way includes the neoprene suit that works as a term insulator avoiding hypothermia and also provides buoyancy and protection. The footwear must be boots to avoid slipping, these must have an adherent sole and flexibility and the ankle brace to avoid sprains. The helmet cannot be missing as it is the best way to protect yourself against blows and falling stones.

The gloves will serve to protect against the cold and to avoid wounds and burns in the hands, the best ones are made of rubber or PVC and those of neoprene . The harness is necessary and the activity cannot be carried out in it, it is a technical material and must have a high anchor point, be resistant, how to transport and have rings on both sides. The descender must be easy to use and function to provide safety. The ropes have different types of length depending on the activity, they must be resistant , flexible and with a thickness of no less than 9 mm.

The anchor ropes should be one long and one shorter and can be made of tape with dynamic stitching or with dynamic rope. The carabiners provide security and braking. It is important to carry a backpack so that necessary materials can be carried in it, also water bottles, bags , whistles to communicate with others, maps and location kits .

Environmental impact of canyoning

Many experts believe that this type of activity is responsible for damaging some of the habitats found in rivers. Another problem is that with the activity, an impact is produced in the canyons which, with the continuous passage of people, endanger the vegetation and even some small species of animals .


Canyoning is a very important type of sport in terms of physical activity as it is ideal for activating the cardiovascular and muscular system of the body. It is a sport that contains several types of physical efforts that can be observed in other sports disciplines. It also improves mood , reduces amounts of stress and anxiety.

Leave a Comment