I went a fare canyoning in the heart of the Friulian Dolomites, a Unesco World Heritage Site, at the center Alkosa one of the best known and most popular centers in the region. I spent about 3 hours of adrenaline-fueled adventure abseiling along the gorges of a stream, swimming between sheer walls, diving into pools of crystalline water and letting myself be carried by the current on smooth rocks like on water slides, but created by the nature.
What is Canyoning?
Canyoning is an activity that involves descending along the path of a stream following its natural course with all that it entails: swimming, passing through narrow cracks, sliding on rocks smoothed by the water and diving into pools natural that the torrent forms during its course.
Canyoning is generally done in fairly remote mountain areas, in the midst of lush nature, where the water has cut the rock and molded it into wavy and sinuous shapes.
To put it this way it seems that it is a dangerous thing, but I assure you that it is not (and it is fun) if accompanied by experienced people who are able to help you in moments a little more difficult, who have the right equipment and who know how to use it. .
Being accompanied by experienced people who know how to behave in the event (tiè) of accidents is absolutely necessary. This does not mean that there is a risk of certain death, but we can all take a twist in an ankle even walking down the street: but if you are in the gorge of a stream it is not quite the same thing.
However, as in all things, even for canyoning there are streams of varying difficulty and the first time you go it will certainly be an easy path.
Those who go canyoning must have a good physical shape (okay you don't need to be a sports superman, but not even people who after 5 minutes of effort can't take it anymore): in fact, canyoning is still a rather tiring sport .
Staying in the narrow gorge of the stream with overhanging walls and with the water up to mid-leg was for me an almost mystical experience here are 7 things that I have learned and that you must know before canyoning.
7 Things to Know Before Canyoning
1 - Wetsuit must be worn as you get wet to the core and I assure you that the water is freezing, really freezing. The experience is beautiful: descending from the top of small waterfalls to their base along the rock face is fantastic, so being dressed appropriately helps you enjoy it more. Not to mention that the wetsuit also protects you from any sharp edges and rocks.
2 - Shoes are really important, no you can't go with the Hawaiianas. Shoes should be comfortable, trainers or boots with rubber soles and durable.
And you don't have to be very interested in the idea that they can be destroyed.
Do you know your beloved $ 300 Nike Silver that you love madly? Here, leave them at home: if they do not spoil you with mud, in the end, however, you will have them soup and full of water.
If you ever buy boots like the ones they sell from Decathlon that don't cost very much, are resistant and if they get damaged Amen.
3 - You can go canyoning even if you don't know how to swim (or swim like bricks). Exactly, you will still be provided with an inflatable vest whose function is to keep you afloat! Therefore, you can safely go canyoning even if you are not Michael Phelps.
4 - Cell phones and cameras need to be protected. Yes, because water enters everywhere and if you do not protect your equipment well, bye bye, you will find it flooded. Buy waterproof cases to be safe. I was very careful: I left my camera and mobile phone directly at the hotel, but I brought the gopro with its special case instead.
5 - Never go alone. You know getting stuck with one foot between two rocks and being completely alone and moreover without anyone who knows where you are? Here it is. Absolutely necessary for your own peace of mind and safety is to go at least with one other person who, in case, can call for help. If you are a small group it is better because you help each other. And you have a lot more fun.
6 - You have to keep an eye on the weather forecast. A sudden downpour, even if it might seem like nothing, can turn into a half-flood with a very strong current through the narrow gorge of a stream. This can cause great dangers for canyoners. Keep an eye on the forecast and even if there is a small chance of showers or bad weather, postpone it until next time. The canyon is there, it doesn't run away, you can go there another time.
7 - Go easy and have fun! Let yourself go, let yourself be carried away in every sense: by the current, by your laughter, by the amazement of being in the middle of wild nature. Even if you are a little scared don't worry, the guides who are with you will give you courage. Glide along a rock like on a slide until you take a dip in the crystal clear waters of the pool below you. Rope down the wall of a waterfall, feel the water beating hard on your heads and let yourself slide to the bottom in the midst of a myriad of bubbles. Try not to be afraid and you will have fun like crazy.
Having the right equipment, in addition to making the experience more comfortable and comfortable, also makes it safer. The equipment also varies according to the difficulty of the route: if it is the first time the route will be easy, despite this there are some things that you must bring.
Helmet: even on easy routes, there is the possibility of injury. Having a helmet is essential. The helmet must be suitable for canyoning, it must be able to get wet and above all it must be of a bright color, so as to be visible even in the middle of the water.
Ropes and harnesses: even if you are a beginner and are not included in the descent of the waterfalls and rappeling, the ropes and the harness are absolutely necessary mainly for two reasons: the first is that they can serve to give safety to the person in moments when he does not feel just calm, the second, much more important, is that they can be necessary in cases of rescue or when someone is in trouble.
Watertight bag: a dry bag is very useful especially because the best thing is to take your clothes with you so that when you get to the end of the canyoning you can change.
Where to Canyoning in the Friulian Dolomites
Our whole country has beautiful places suitable for canyoning. Alkosa, the center to which I have entrusted myself, is located in the heart of the Friulian Dolomites in Pradis di Sotto, a small fraction of Clauzetto in the province of Pordenone.
The limestone rocks and dolomites of this part of Friuli make this region one of those with the best possibilities for canyoning given the large amount of streams of varying difficulty, from easy routes for beginners to real challenging adventures, able to test even the most experienced of this sport.
Amrit, the owner of the center, is a nice Danish lover of motorcycles and adventure who decided to stop here to live and build his center immersed in an enchanting beech forest near the caves and the ravine of Pradis.
The meeting point is at the Furletto restaurant, a characteristic construction of wood and stone, where you can taste the dishes cooked by Amrit's wife.
All technical equipment, helmets, wetsuits, harnesses and dry bags are provided by the center.
There are several routes offered by Alkosa, from easy and simple streams suitable for children such as the one on the Aga Viva stream, to the more demanding ones such as the Vielia stream, a challenging path which requires a whole day in an uncontaminated valley crossed by one of the most beautiful gorges.