Canyoneering: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners and Experts

If you’re looking for an enjoyable way to pass the time, get some fresh air, see Mother Nature in all her glory, and get some much-needed exercise in the process, canyoneering/canyoning is the ultimate pastime. Over the years, more and more people have started to show an avid interest in outdoor sports and activities, with canyoneering proving to be especially popular. If you’ve considered taking up this adventure sport, it will pay dividends to know as much about the sport before you commit to it fulltime. Lucky for you, we’ve got you covered with this handy guide. Contained within, you will find everything you need to know about canyoneering. So, sit back, put up your feet, get comfortable, and prepare to learn as much as canyoning as you possibly can.

What is canyoneering?

Canyoneering, also known as canyoning as well as gorge walking, is an incredibly popular outdoor pursuit. The sport itself is ideal because it combines adventure and adrenaline with natural beauty and relaxation. You get all of the benefits of being in the great outdoors, surrounded by wildlife and the best vistas that the planet has to offer, with the added bonus of getting fit and healthy and being able to take part in one of the most adrenaline-fuelling sports ever created. There are many different ways to describe canyoneering though, perhaps the easiest description of canyoneering is white water rafting, without the actual rafts. The sport is carried out by canyoners who will navigate their way down water-filled gorges, swimming through rock pools, sliding down natural slides, carefully navigating their way past rocks and other obstacles, scaling rocks, trees, and other surfaces, and just generally having a fantastic time.

Canyoneering is great because it is a sport which combines various elements of different outdoor adrenaline sports and pursuits and creates the ultimate adventure-fuelled hybrid sport. Just to show you how many different layers canyoneering has, some of the different sports and disciplines incorporated into canyoning include:

  • Swimming
  • Rock climbing
  • Bouldering
  • Abseiling
  • And even cliff jumping for more experienced canyoners

Needless to say, canyoneering is incredibly testing, both physically and mentally, yet it is heaps upon heaps of fun.

What makes canyoneering so special?

What makes canyoneering special

There are plenty of outdoor sports and pursuits for keen adrenaline junkies to sink their teeth into, so precisely what is it about canyoneering that makes it one of the world’s most popular outdoor sports? Actually, there’s plenty of things. Popular all over the globe, groups and individuals alike will embark on canyoning adventures every single week, travelling from all over the country. If you’re still trying to decide whether or not canyoning is right for you, here are several awesome reasons why canyoneering is so special.

Great form of exercise

We know that exercise is extremely important for our health and well-being, so we won’t sit here for hours on end lecturing you about how you need to exercise more. Unfortunately, to some people, the thought of exercising at a gym is boring and tedious. Not everybody enjoys exercising at a gym or performing “conventional” exercise, so does that mean that they should just not bother? Of course not. Exercise can be performed in a variety of different ways. Canyoning is one of the most effective forms of exercise you could ever wish for. Canyoning provides cardiovascular exercise, it builds your endurance, it provides resistance-based benefits, it builds upper and lower body strength, and plenty more besides. When canyoning you’ll be swimming, you’ll be climbing, you’ll be walking, you’ll be helping your fellow canyoners, and you’ll get yourself one heck of a workout every time you take part. Not only will this improve your physique, but more importantly, it will help to improve your general health and well-being.

Great for team building

Another very good benefit of canyoneering is the fact that the activity itself is fantastic for team building. Canyoning is very much a team-orientated activity in which you literally place your life in other people’s hands in some scenarios, and vice versa. Canyoning is ideal for team building and for establishing strong bonds, comradery, and friendships. Whether you choose to take up canyoning with your buddies, or join a club and make new friends as you get to know everybody, you can rest assured that the bonds you create whilst taking part in canyoning will be amongst the strongest you’ll ever encounter.

As well as actually meeting up to take part on canyoneering expeditions, you will also be able to stay in touch via social media, on various forums, and of course, in person. In fact, you’ll find that it is customary with many canyoneering groups, for everybody to get together afterwards, once they’ve dried off and got out of their gear, to head off for some food, a few drinks, and bit of chinwag.

See the great outdoors

 If you’re sick and tired of constantly grey concentre urban environments and you wish to escape the hustle and bustle of modern city living, canyoning is the ultimate pastime to get involved in. When you take part in canyoning, you will find yourself in some of the most visually stunning locations on the planet. You’ll be amongst trees and forests, you’ll encounter waterfalls, rapids, moss-laden boulders, lichen glazed chasms, singing birds, fish, and animals you never thought you’d see in the wild in a million years. As you carefully navigate your way downstream and allow the current to gently guide you on your way, the vistas you’ll get to see each and every session will stick in your mind forever. There really is nothing quite like the great outdoors, and canyoning allows you to see Mother Nature in all her awe-inspiring natural glory.

Learn a new discipline

Another reason to consider taking up canyoning is due to the fact that doing so will allow you to learn a new discipline. Canyoning isn’t just a case of driving to your nearest river, throwing yourself in, and seeing where you end up. Obviously, you could try that, but you would likely wind up in the emergency room if you’re lucky. In fact, scratch that, please don’t try that as it would be incredibly dangerous. There is a lot to learn about canyoning, which is partly why we’re creating this guide in the first place.

Everybody starts out as a novice at canyoning, and the wonderful thing about it is that there is no judgement. People simply make a conscious effort to lift one another up and help them. When canyoning for the first time you’ll learn the basics such as: Which equipment and gear to purchase, where the best spots are, how to remain safe and in control at all times, what to do in case of an emergency, optimal conditions, and correct form and technique.

As you progress, you’ll learn more complex techniques and fundamentals of canyoning. Canyoneering is a journey in which you are constantly progressing and learning. Once you do have the basics locked down however, you can pay yourself on the back as you now know a brand new discipline which is not only heaps of fun, it could maybe even prove useful in an emergency situation (though we very much hope not).

Great in the summer

During the warmer summer months when the sun is at its fiercest, you’ll be so glad that you decided to take up canyoning. Once you throw on your gear and get into the cooling water for the first time you’ll instantly feel refreshed and revitalised.

After working up a sweat clambering particularly testing boulders and embankments, why not cool off by giving yourself a quick dunk under the next waterfall you encounter? And trust us, you’ll be seeing plenty of these awesome natural features before long. Even during the colder months of the year it’s not actually as cool as you think thanks to the amazing wetsuits and protective gear and clothing that you can now purchase.

Great stress buster

Modern life can be stressful, there’s no getting around that. If you’re feeling stressed, or if you just want to take care of your mind as well as your body, canyoneering is perfect. When you embark on a canyoning adventure you are investing in great mental health in the process. When you’re canyoning you’re amongst nature. Birds sing, trees and bushes rustle in the wind, and the sound of running water calms and relaxes the mind, body, and soul. There’s no social media whilst in the water, no emails to answer, no errands to run, calls to make, or bills to pay.

It’s just you, your fellow canyoners, and the great outdoors. Canyoning is therefore not only great for the body, it’s also great for the mind too. After canyoning you’ll feel more relaxed than ever, and that, combined with all of the calories you’ve burnt off and the energy you’ve expended, means that you’ll be more likely to sleep well that night too.

Canyoneering is fun

If everything listed above hasn’t quite got you in the mood for canyoneering just yet, we’ll simply break it down to the fact that canyoning is so much fun. Canyoneering is one of the most enjoyable pastimes on the planet.

You get to see some of the most beautiful scenery, you’ll encounter wildlife, you’ll make new friends, you’ll have a laugh and a joke with friends, and let’s face it, what could be more enjoyable than sliding down a natural waterfall into an inviting pool of refreshing water below?

Canyoning is great because you can join a club or group and take part in it every single week, or there are people that go on canyoning expeditions as part of bachelor/stag parties or weekends, or team-building exercises with work. Whatever your motivation is for canyoning, one thing that is guaranteed is the fact that you’ll have one of the most enjoyable experiences in recent memory.

Things to know before you take up canyoneering

Taking on canyoneering

Okay, so we’ll assume that, so far, you’ve liked what you’ve read and by now you’re seriously thinking of taking up canyoning, if you weren’t already. If so, then before you do, there are a number of things that you will need to take into consideration.

These things are not only relevant to how productive you are with the sport itself, they’re also very relevant when it comes to your safety and the safety of those around you.