Best canyoning routes in Europe: Andorra
Canyoning is a sport involving the idea of moving through canyons using many kinds of movement, ascending or descending, with the use of special climbing equipment: ropes, carabiners, eights, belays and, of course, helmets. A special wetsuit is also needed to protect you from the cold waters of the mountain rivers and lakes, alongside anti-slip shoes.
The complexity of the route for canyoneering is determined by taking into account a person’s physical fitness, the terrain and it’s climatic features, topography, and the need for climbing equipment.
Canyoning routes are usually found in remote areas, further from civilization and therefore require navigation skills to reach them. Canyoning can include: rock climbing, rappelling along the line of the waterfall with the help of a belay, jumping in the crystal clear water of the mountain lakes and swimming. Canyoning is a type of extreme sport, so it is important to move through the canyon accompanied by an experienced guide.
In Andorra there are five suitable places for doing сanyoning with different levels of difficulty. The majority can be found close to the center of Ordino.
ENCODINA canyon (located next to the natural reserve Parc Natural de la Vall de Sorteny) is the easiest one in the country. It has a distance of 280 m, and a height of 50 m. However, during certain periods of the year, the Canyon can be difficult to pass after flooding as the river flow speed highly increases. The canyon is a 10-minute drive from Ordino. To find it, you need to pass through the villages of la Cortinada, Llorts and El Serrat, towards the ski slopes of Vallnord-Ordino Arcalis. Cars should be parked at the area Encodina, then you should walk on the road parallel to the highway to a small descent where you will see the river. Coordinates: 42° 37′ 30″,01° 31′ 41.
SEGUDET canyon also has a low level of difficulty, it’s ideal for beginners. The canyon is located near the village of Segudet. Distance – 400 m, height – 75 m. Difficulties can also arise when there are strong currents in the mountain river. The canyon is about a 30-minute drive from Ordino, next to the village of Segudet. Turn right after the roundabout, then walk up the path towards the Coll d’Ordino through a small private road. After that you will begin the steep climb up to pass by the recreational area and viewing area. On the right side you will see the mouth of river, where you should look for metal bolts for fastening ropes. Duration of the descent is about 1 hour 30 minutes. Coordinates: 42° 33′ 28″,01° 32′ 23″.
ENSEGUR is a canyon which is located near the village of Llorts. The level of difficulty is high (mostly because of the slippery rocks and cold water). Distance – 1700 m, height – 250 m. Cars should be parked at the Ermita de Sant Serni car park, found at the entrance to the village of Llorts. Then you should cross the road and walk along the wide track towards the bridge over the river Riu Valira del Nord. Following that, move in the direction of Bordes d Ensegur. You should climb the trail up to the beginning of the ravine, crossing the river on a wooden footbridge, then take a path down to the stream. Coordinates: 42° 35′ 46″,01° 31′ 35.
LA CANALETA is a canyon located between Arcalís and El Serrat. The difficulty level is high. Distance – 700 m, height – 150 m. The canyon can be reached from Ordino in 20 minutes (you should go towards the ski station Vallnord-Ordino Arcalís). After the tunnel turn left, park your car and continue on the footpath up the side of the reservoir. Duration of the descent is about 2 hours. Coordinates: 42° 37′ 58″,01° 30′ 00″
TORRENT DE L’AVIAR is a canyon located near Solà d’encamp, in the ravine Aviar. The difficulty level is high. Distance – 850m, height – 280m. During the activity you may come across chamois, mountain sheep and quails. In this area there are also a lot of mushrooms and berries. Duration of the descent is about 2 hours. Coordinates: 42° 31′ 58″,01° 34′ 01″.
Rental equipment is available in Ordino in the office of Experiencia en muntanya (Edifici Casa Estragues Baixos, Ordino, AD300) or at the Olympic Park (La Seu d’Urgell, where a wetsuit costs 10 euros per day).
Information for those who are trying canyoing for the first time – you should know that any wetsuit and shoes are not waterproof, so you should only choose hot sunny summer days to do the sport.
Additional information is available at the tourist office of Ordino.