What is Canyoning?


About Canyoning

  • Invented: 1970’s
  • Founded By: Dennis Turville
  • Highest Governing Body: Commission Internationale de Canyon (CIC)

Canyoning is an exciting adventure sport that incorporates swimming, climbing, and hiking, and takes athletes of all ability levels to some of the most beautiful places in the world. Canyoning is known as canyoneering in the USA and kloofing in South Africa, and its participants are called canyoneers. Canyoneers descend into and traverse dangerous canyons, crevices, waterfalls, rivers, and lakes. Canyoning destinations are typically places of great natural beauty that are inaccessible by most other methods. Rock climbers around Zion, Utah, USA invented canyoning in the 1970’s as a diversion in their free time, which utilized techniques and gear already present in climbing. The sport exploded in the early 2000’s, with the advent of canyoning-specific gear companies, canyoning guide services in worldwide locations, and governing federations to educate and certify canyoning guides. These innovations mean that canyoning is now safer and more accessible than ever before, so if you like adventure and the outdoors, consider adding a canyoning expedition to your next vacation.


What is canyoning?

Canyoning is a sport in which athletes descend into and travel through canyons. A canyon is a deep crevice between cliffs that are typically eroded over time by water. Athletes participating in canyoning (called canyoneers) combine techniques from several disciplines, such as rappelling, jumping, swimming, walking, and climbing, to navigate canyons. Canyoneers pursue their sport for the exercise and physical challenge, but also for the appreciation of natural beauty. Therefore, canyons with multiple waterfalls, rock faces, and other aesthetic features make ideal canyoning locations.

Where are the best places for canyoning in the world?

The best places for canyoning are those with a variety of beautiful canyons, challenging terrain, and an established tourism and guide presence. Some of the best canyoning locations in North America are Zion National Park in Utah, USA; Agawa Canyon in Ottawa, Canada; and Copper Canyon in Chihuahua, Mexico. One of the best places in the world for beginners to learn canyoning is Rabou Canyon in the French Alps. Other great canyoning destinations include Wanaka, New Zealand; the Blue Mountains in Australia; Sierra de Guara, Spain; Lake Garda, Italy; and Cebu in the Philippines.

What equipment do I need to safely go canyoning?

Canyoning can be dangerous, so canyoneers should always utilize proper safety equipment, the minimum of which is a pair of sturdy shoes and a helmet. Hiking shoes are acceptable, but specialty canyoning shoes are also available. Most canyoning expeditions also require a wetsuit; the durable fabric prevents skin abrasions against the rock and provides warmth in wet conditions. A collection of rock climbing gear is also necessary for more technical expeditions. This includes ropes, rope bags, backpacks, harnesses, carabiners, belay and rappel devices, and protection pieces to form anchor points.