“Where your mind goes, your body will follow.” “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Eek, no, scratch that last one!
I was standing on top of a huge boulder, holding hands with 9 year old Olivia. We were trying to convince each other that the 5m jump into the river below was a fun thing to do.
“I’ll do it if you will”, she urged me. This young lady had more guts than me! But eager not to appear a wuss, I followed her lead and we jumped!
Of course we survived and actually had tremendous fun on that canyoning outing. I conquered some fears and Olivia did too.
Used to being in the shadow of her older brother and sister, she had the chance to impress them. And impress them she did!
What is river canyoning?
River canyoning is one of the most popular activities on our Pyrenees family summer multi activity adventure holiday.
It’s a ‘we’ve never done this before, so let’s give it a bash’ kind of activity that appeals to adults and kids alike.
Canyoning is an activity that’s guided by a professional who will ensure your safety as you make your way down the river, jumping into deep pools, sliding down natural rock slides and sometimes abseiling down waterfalls.
It’s an activity that massively appeals to families who support and encourage each other as they step outside of their comfort zones.
It’s also an activity that appeals to adrenaline hungry teens who are forever hungry for that next challenge. They’ll meet their match on a river canyoning experience in the Pyrenees!
Who can go river canyoning?
Families with children as young as 8 years old can enjoy a river canyoning experience.
The only proviso is that they can swim and are a minimum of 140cms tall, for the simple reason that the wetsuits don’t come any smaller!
For the family canyoning experiences it’s not necessary to have had prior experience of canyoning and no technical skill is involved.
On each outing, your instructor will give you a thorough briefing to explain what to expect on the descent.
Should your courage desert you at any point, rest assured there are always get outs along the river courses.
What equipment is involved in river canyoning?
Your instructor will provide you with a wetsuit under which you’ll wear your swimming costume.
He will also kit you out with a harness, helmet and carabiner that you may need for any abseiling/lower off sections on the canyon descent.
A pair of old trainers will be just the job for the walk in and to keep your feet comfortable as you navigate sections of the river bed on your descent.
If you have a GoPro make sure you bring it along as you’ll get some great footage on a canyoning descent!
You’ll need to take a packed lunch/picnic if you opt for the full day canyoning experience in the Spanish Pyrenees.
This will be stowed in a waterproof drum which you’ll take down the river course with you.
What are the river gorges like?
In a nutshell, varied, is the answer to this question!
The river gorges on the French side have been described as ‘jungle-esque’, often bordered by woodland and containing huge boulders that have been washed down by the Spring snow melt.
Our popular Introduction to Canyoning experience takes you down a short section of river gorge on which you’ll jump into pools and slide down natural rock slides.
It’s just exciting enough without being intimidating, not only for the kids but for mum and dad too!
The longer canyoning descents on the French side, which are suitable for children of 12+, include jumps off ledges from greater heights into deeper pools, tyrolean descents down raging waterfalls and bigger natural slides.
A canyoning descent of a river gorge across the border in Spain is however a totally different experience!
The drive to the Spanish canyons can take over 1h30 but it’s all part of the adventure and oh so worth it when you see the environment!
Dramatic, high limestone walls rise up out of the river bed and beautiful rock formations line the way.
The water is usually warmer in the Spanish rivers and you can enjoy a sunny picnic half way down the descent too.
Because of the length of the Spanish river gorges you can expect a hugely varied canyoning experience with optional jumps of up to 10m!
If you decide those big jumps and challenges are not for you then simply float on down the river and step onto the river bank to take pics of the crazy other members of your family!
Whichever river canyoning experience you choose on your family adventure holiday, you can expect a ton of giggles with no doubt the odd scream of excitement thrown in too!