Canyoning: Rafting without a Raft

Canyoning, Like Rafting Without a Raft.

canyoning, banos, ecuador

Our group gingerly scampers through the narrow canyon. We slide ourselves across slick rocks on our backsides as the passing water rushes in between our bodies and the river floor. At points we reach cliff walls with powerfully featured waterfalls. We tie ourselves into the rope to repel our way downwards. At one point the narrow canyon has tightened itself so thin that a pool of deep water has formed at the bottom of a 6 meter waterfall. We throw caution to the wind and jump into the cooking pot-like hole. The whole time down we splash, push and shove, and giggle like we’re about 5 years old. All of this is a part of the adventure sport of canyoning.

The guides that brought this adrenaline adventure sport to the creeks and rivers of Ecuador call it “rafting without a raft” but it more famously goes by the name of canyoning. This smile enticing adventure consists of finding a narrow canyon filled with water and then finding your way down by any means possible. That usually includes hiking through the waist deep waters in wet suits, repelling down cliffs as cold waterfalls dive down on top of you, and, where its possible, also forgetting the ropes and jumping down the cliffs into pools of water that await below.

canyoning, banos, ecuador
Waterfall up close

The sport doesn’t really take any real athleticism or skill; anyone can take part which is really one of its biggest upsides. Local guides spend more time here in these canyons than they do in their own beds, and know each little crack in the cliff walls. People taking part need only to show up, suit up, and have an adventurous mindset. The controlled activity provides the perfect environment to allow people to begin to push themselves a little further then they might normally be willing to go, and they’ll do so the whole time with a smile ten miles wide.

I’ve gone canyoning three times now, and never once have I ever been disappointed, never once have I ever left the narrow canyon not thinking “can we go back to the top and do that again?” The whole while heading down myself, and anyone who has ever gone with me, spending the entire time giggling like girls at their first school dance, and splashing each other like children with the cold water at every chance we got. In summary, canyoning will bring the child out in you, and will push you at the very same time. What else could you ask for in an activity?

Here is a video that includes both pictures and videos of the different aspects of canyoning while taking part in the sport in Banos, Ecuador including repelling, a natural water slide, and an 8 meter jump! Enjoy: