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Canyoning

Group of canyoning lovers walking in the middle of two stone walls

Canyoning is a very popular activity. It’s on every nature lover’s summer bucket list. A new adventure sport to experience. So, why not take the time to explore the canyons in a foreign country? You’ll have the chance to discover and explore the amazing surroundings of Ecuador’s raw beauty. This activity is also known as canyoneering because you descend narrow canyons. 


Some people love adventure and adrenaline. When they plan a vacation, they search for adventurous options such as canyoning. Over the past few years, this sport has been growing and getting more popular. People love it because it’s a mixture of techniques, the environment, and the connection with nature. The beauty of this sport is that canyons are rarely visited, so it’s not a crowded activity. Thus, nature and everything around is more pristine and raw. Therefore, if you enjoy swimming, exploring, hiking, and swinging through a waterfall then you’re most definitely going to enjoy canyoneering. 

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Motivations to plan your canyoning experience

Do you want to have an adventure vacation? If the answer is yes, then you must visit Ecuador. Because of its diversity and small size, you’ll be able to explore different ecosystems and habitats. You’ll have the chance to explore amazing beaches, where you can relax after your thrilling adventure. Above all, the Galapagos Islands are the crown jewel of Ecuador. 

Then, what about organizing your adventure vacation on Ecuador’s mainland and after visiting the Galapagos Islands? Did you know that canyoning is one of the most requested activities for having amazing adventure vacations? According to the Adventure Travel Association, after the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are interested in these types of trips. Here are the most common motivations. 

View of a mountain and a cascade in Baños Ecuador

Waterfall near Baños town in Ecuador

Transformation 

Most adventurers want to be challenged. This means going out of their comfort zone and pushing their limits. Then, close your eyes and try to feel how water flows down your face, while you follow the route down the river. Suddenly, you find yourself rappelling down a waterfall, in a mesmerizing environment. That’s exactly what canyoning is. Once you have done it, you’ll have a sense of accomplishment and achievement. 

Expanding world view

Many tourists want to have an experience that helps them broaden their perspective and horizons. At the same time, they search for a cultural understanding of the place they are visiting. Since canyons are in the middle of nature, in Ecuador you’ll have the chance to be in close contact with the local community. Which can teach you some of their ways of living and costumes. Canyoning is an incredible activity to help you expand your perspective on adventurous travel. You’ll feel you’re part of the raw, magnificence, and pristine nature of forgotten landscapes. 

 

Connection 

A great thing about canyoning is that it helps you reconnect with your friends. While you’re enjoying nature at its best, you create a support system with your group. Suddenly, you’re not only thinking about yourself. You bond with others when you’re connected with the person in front and behind you. When you do canyoning, you have to look after your group. You’ll help others get over fears, limitations, and reactions to difficult situations. At the same time, you’ll have the chance to create a connection with nature. Going through rivers, small waterfalls, and canyons is another perspective of exploring nature and its surroundings. 

What to expect when canyoning 

This thrilling experience is going to get you out of your comfort zone. First, you start the experience by hiking through the forest. Then, you get to your first waterfall. Afterward, you have to jump!

When you’re canyoning, you descend down a river system, or a gorge, using various methods such as rappeling down waterfalls and sliding down a canyon. Climb up a wall, swim when you can. Canyoning is a mix of everything! So expect a complete adventure you can do as much or as little as you want. Maybe going a difficult path or just exploring nature. It depends on you and your willingness to immerse yourself in your adventure vacations. 

Are you ready to be amazed by rivers, canyons, and waterfalls? Also, you’ll feel tired because of all the exercise and adrenaline. Expect to have an amazing time, and create unforgettable memories and bonds. The chances that you enjoy yourself and be amazed by nature are high enough. 

Path going through a mountain

Routes to do adventure sports

What happens if you don’t like heights 

If you’re afraid of heights, don’t worry! There’s always another option to descend the waterfall. Also, please communicate with your guide if you have any type of impediment. There are always new routes to climb up or descend. However, you’ll really enjoy the activity if you jump! 

Atmosphere 

When you go canyoning in Ecuador, you’ll be amazed by how raw nature is. One of the best places to start your canyoning trip is the Amazon basin. So, the Amazonian lowlands, are a humid forest with very ancient trees of over 400 years. Maybe you can spot cinnamon trees that are endemic in the area. Also, you might be able to see frogs, birds, and other types of colorful animals.  Then, canyoning is not only going to be an experience for the activity itself but also because of the surroundings. 

6 Day Ecuador Multisport 

What makes for a good canyoning destination 

If having adventure vacations are part of your summer bucket list. Then, you’ll want to find the best destination where you can do the activity. According to experts, there are 3 things to consider when choosing a canyoning destination

  1. Accessibility is good. If getting to the place you want is not that hard so you don’t waste energy and time getting there. 
  2. A good rock type. Keep an eye on that, nice smooth rocks give you a lot of slides. 
  3. A mixture of everything is ideal. Mixed jumps, water flumes, beautiful swims, bits that you can abseil. 

Plus pro tip: for adventure vacations, what is really incredible is when you go into deep canyons where the walls on each side rise really high. There’s a real feeling of exploration and commitment in those canyons. 

Little cascade in Ecuador part of a caynoning route

Canyoning route in Ecuador 

What you might learn  when you go deep into the canyons 

First of all, when you have a summer bucket list that includes adventure vacations, that means that you are already searching for an extra emotion out of your vacations. So, if you get the chance of leveling up the experience and do canyoning, you should do it! These are the things that you’ll learn after your first canyoning trip. 

The importance of the wetsuit in canyoning

In the Ecuadorian Amazon basin, the climate is warm but the waters are still cold. Therefore, at the beginning of your route, you can start sweating a lot, but after the first splash, you’re going to thank the wetsuit. Second of all, if you have more coverage and you’re in a tropical kind of weather, then a wetsuit is going to keep you safe from mosquito bites. 

Canyoning is not kind with your shoes 

Canyoning is not the best activity for your new trainers or your wit awesome snickers. Nor, are your hiking boots. Is not that your shoes are going to be destroyed, but they are going to get very very wet. Also, they’re going to have a few scrapes from all those rocks. 

You can do it! 

Maybe you think that you’re afraid of heights, or that you’re unsure of yourself. By the end of your canyoning adventure, you’ll be jumping several meters into deep pools of refreshing water. Willingly and with a big smile on your face. These types of adventures test your personal limits and once you’ve overcome the first scare you’ll be an expert at jumping, swimming, and balancing through the canyons. The more you do, the more confidence will grow in you. Your summer bucket list will have a big and happy check.

Group of tourists in caves

Group of tourists having fun canyoning

Natural waterslides and beautiful location 

One of the best parts of canyoning is getting up close with natural wonders. You’ll swim in dreamy natural pools. You’ll find some amazing natural water slides. Guides already know how to get to them, and how slippery rocks form natural chutes that will lead and drop you off in a pool of water. 

Your rope skills aren’t so tough 

Abseiling is something that looks very difficult or tricky. After the first thrill of going from a very high place to one significantly lower through the air, attached to only a rope. You’ll be asking for more. If you have all the equipment, it’s safe! The guides will teach you about abseiling and how to travel through the canyon. 

Canyoning is so much fun

This sport will make you feel like a kid again! You’ll feel like Lara Croft or James Bond. Canyoning and going through incredible sceneries, nature, and obstacles! It’s a great adventure sport. And also, an awesome activity to get out in the countryside and explore the rivers and gorges. It’s definitely challenging but worth the effort. You’ll be more than happy to have done it! 

Girls holding a rock before starting her canyoning adventure

Girl holding a rock before her canyoning adventure

Canyoning gear 

The most basic gear to do canyoning is your helmet and a harness. Also, depending on the condition of the terrain maybe you can do it with sneakers or just shoes that don’t matter if they get wet. Don’t worry, most of the equipment will be given to you.

After the basics then you’re going to need: 

  • Figure 8 descender.
  • Wetsuit. If the water is not that cold or the weather is nice, then athleisure clothes will work. If you don’t mind staying wet for a little bit. 
  • Prusik cord.
  • Dry bag.
  • Rope anchors.
  • Harness.
  • Descenders.
  • Ropes. 

Levels of physical activity 

Canyoning begins with a nice walk through the Amazon basin. The incredible paths and routes will immerse you in the forest. You’ll pass through some small rivers and very tall trees. The whole place is mesmerizing by itself. 

It’s an incredible experience. You can drink clean fresh water directly from the fountain. But, it needs to be said that canyoning has its physical challenges. 

Chart of physical level activity

Level of physical activity in canyoning

Tips: canyoning for beginners 

Before you start your adventure vacation and your canyoning trip, here’s a small list of useful tips. 

1. Take a guided canyoning trip 

If you have no prior experience of canyoning of course it’s recommended that you take a guided trip. On the other hand, if you want to experience a foreign canyoneering adventure, then please ask for a tour guide. An advantage of going on a canyoning tour is that they’re going to give you all the equipment. Also, they’ll explain everything about the environment and surroundings. 

Group of guided tourists in their canyoning adventure

Group of guided tourists in their canyoning adventure

2. Rock Hop for canyoning

A good option to get your muscles moving and get used to some movement skills is to rock hop along open creeks. All your small muscles will start working to get used to canyoning. Due to this effort, your balance will increase. At the same time, you’ll have more experience with which types of rocks are slippery and how to get over them. Even more, you’re going to spend more time outside and it’s always a good plan. 

3. It’s all about the feet in canyoning

After your first canyoning experience, maybe you’ll be craving for more. A game changer canyoneering gears are the shoes and footwear. It’s all about the grip, not the clumsy hiking boots. You need soft rubber to move swiftly over the slipper rocks. 

4. Learn your knots & anchors

Before you start, you need to practice. Hit the books and start there, if you’re more into websites then the Oz Ultimate is a must. Another option and advice are to always ask someone with more experience if your knots are correct. Please don’t forget to always check them twice and buddy check before committing to them. 

This amazing adventure sport will be about a problem-solving mindset. You’ll have some challenges and you need to react quickly so, the more knowledge that you have the better equipped you’ll be. The Dye Clan -a very outdoorsy family- has a special section about anchors used in canyoneering that is going to be very useful. 

A guy having fun while canyoning

Traveler having fun while canyoning

5. You need to get fit

Like any other adventure sport, canyoning requires a level of physical movement and strength. You’re going to hike, swim, jump, and balance to complete your route. So be prepared to have a good baseline of fitness because of all the activities. The emphasis of canyoning is to have fun and enjoy the place where you are. 

6. Learn the tripod for canyoning

Remember to keep the three points of contact at all times. This is not only applied for rock climbing but also for canyoning. One hand and both feet. Using the hand that is not holding the rope, place it where it’s needed to give you balance. At first, it is going to be weird and maybe sketchy because you’re used to using both your hands to hold the rope. But after some experience, you’re going to realize that having one hand on the rocks is going to improve your balance and confidence in going over the edge. 

 7. Tie long hair back 

Even if it sounds obvious, avoid getting your hair caught in the descender. Take any long hair, especially those strands on the front that come lose all the time, and tie it all at the back of your head. The same applies to any loose clothing flapping about. The whole point of having adventure vacations is to enjoy! 

8. Keep an eye on each other 

Canyoning is a team activity. You all need to look after the group to keep each other safe. The most common way is to keep a buddy system. Basically, you stick with the same person the whole way through helping one another if that were the case.

Family after canyoning

Family after their canyoning trip

Canyoning in Ecuador 

With incredibly diverse geography and climate, Ecuador is one of the best destinations for adventure vacations. One day you can climb up snowy volcanoes and the next day you can rest on an idyllic beach. For sure, the most popular destination for adventure sports and especially canyoning is Baños de Agua Santa. Thanks to its proximity to the Amazon region, the closeness to cascades and rivers is the perfect place to do it! 

But, there is also the National Reserve Colonso Chalupas. There, you can explore more of the Amazon Basin, its wildlife, and its flora. There are several cascades to explore on this site. Perfect to do canyoning and get to know more about the local community. You’ll fall in love with this experience. 

Side note: this sport is recommended for kids 6 years old and older.

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