Canyoning and Aquatic Hiking in the Verdon Gorges?
Are you visiting the Verdon Gorges during the summer heat? Then why not go and cool down in one of the beautiful canyons in the area! One of the most important features, which makes Verdon unique, is canyoning & aquatic hiking through the gorges. So, what is the main difference between canyoning and aquatic hiking? And what exactly is floating?
Let’s answer these questions in the post below. Canyoning and floating are among the great ways to discover the Gorges of Verdon: so don’t miss it !
Here is a non-exhaustive list of aquatic hiking & floating (easier) and canyoning (more difficult) experiences, which can be done alone or with a guide.
Precautions to take if you choose to tour without a guide:
If you’d like to go canyoning without a guide, here are some things you should know:
One: You’ll need the right equipment, such as a neoprene suit, aquatic shoes, rope & knife, backpack with air pockets.
Two: You’ll need a climbing “topography” guidebook, and check with the officials on when the dam water releases are due to take place.
Three: Check the weather forecast, as there can be a risk of thunderstorms. These can be severe and dangerous in a canyon and you’ll need to know the emergency routes out.
If you feel you’re not comfortable or equipped enough based on the above, then don’t hesitate to hire a guide!
Small canyons and easy canyoneering for families with children
Your guide is very familiar with the area; so if he says the adventure is possible from age 7, you can trust him on that. However, the weather conditions can change from one day to the next, making the same route more difficult depending on water levels. Also bear in mind that an easy route can become difficult when the water flows differently, due to controlled water releases on Tuesdays and Fridays by EDF (France’s national energy company). However, they decide whether or not it needs to be done on these days!
A guidebook is not a real guide
The info below doesn’t replace a real guidebook or a guide. But, it will give you some idea of a wide range of possible canyoning hikes according to the level of your group. You can also book or ask for more info on our website. Floating, aquatic hiking and Canyoning in the Verdon Gorges is suitable for all levels. Some easy canyons or kloofing can be done with kids.
Bas Jabron Canyon: pleasant and easy at the beginning of Summer
Every year, this small, easy canyon, (“bas” means low) starts from Trigance, and has water until mid-July. It’s really fun and easy with loads of jumps!
Unfortunately, it becomes dry during the summer. However, due to its easy level, it can be explored within two hours.
The starting point is located at Trigance Bridge. From the bridge, go along the path, which follows the stream, down to a picnic area. From there, get into the water when you are near a small dam. After this, there is alternate walking and swimming for 10 minutes until you reach a narrow area that requires you jump up (to the left) or climb down with a rope. From here, it can be tempting to slide down but it’s not recommended at all, due to inadequate water supply. After a jump, it will be time to swim. As you go further, there are a few more jumps which will take you to the end of the canyon. A path on the right will take you back to the picnic area in 15 minutes.
The Samson Corridor, an easy aquatic hike in the Verdon
This aquatic hike starts just below the tunnels of the Blanc-Martel trail. It consists of whitewater swimming and some optional jumps. This is obviously the most popular route, and you will likely not be alone! The usual exit is at the level of the Baume aux Pigeons. Climb up with poles which are inserted into the rocks, along with a rope crossing over a small cliff, and from there, you can reach the Martel tunnels. You can book this floating tour on our website.
Whale Canyon near Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
Quite easy and pleasant, this is probably the shortest and simplest canyon. Therefore, kids from 6 years old can try this route. They will have a great time! The starting point is located on the Venascle Road at a series of bends, approximately 4 km after leaving the D952. Then, look out for the dinosaur on the D952 between Roumoules and Moustiers. Travel 2 km further and take a small road with the sign Venascle / paragliding. Travel 4 km and park on the hill in a small pine wood.
More challenging canyons with abseiling: (canyoning with rope)
Here are some more athletic or more technically difficult routes for those who have already abseiled at least once before. The last route described below, the aquatic hike of Imbut, is the only one that does not require a rope. However, you’ll need to be physically fit and comfortable in the water for these, as, in the Verdon, every day usually ends with a very steep trail!
The Riou Canyon at Moustiers Sainte-Marie
Superb canyon water at the beginning of the season. In addition to the beauty of the canyon, the Riou is an opportunity for hiking from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. In the itinerary, discover the chapel of Beauvoir , have a picnic at the top of the canyon, with amazing rapids in the waterfall and a bit of swimming upon arrival. It’s such a pity the canyon does not run all season! It must be visited in July, and hopefully this year, there will still be water until mid-July.
La Fernée Canyon: book here or ask more information
This route will make up for it! This canyon is amazing because it combines abseiling down a dry canyon, and finally, swimming in the “Secret Verdon”! Therefore, this canyon is highly recommended as long as you are not afraid of the void!
The starting point is located at the Mayreste Lookout. Take the Bastidon path, which goes down hill slightly until it gets more steep. From here, follow the canyon until you reach the first rapid point. After this the rapids get bigger and bigger until the end of the day until you reach Verdon with its turquoise waters.
The second part of this canyon leads you to the Secret Verdon
The second part of the swim is so beautiful and it is never tiring to trek along here! However, do note the water levels, so we’ll exclude Tuesdays and Fridays because the water flow of Verdon makes this last part too challenging!
In short, there is a moderate level version and a more competitive level version of this route, depending on the water releases.
Reaching the marble hallway is one of my favorite moments! It’s, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places in the Verdon!
The Styx and Imbut aquatic hike (so-called floating)
An absolutely great tour! Plan a full day with a difficult climb at the end of the day. This aquatic hike follows the path of the Imbut trail, but it is takes place in water. Depart from the Maline cottage along the Martel path until Estellié. Take the footbridge, which crosses Estellié; avoid the rapids, which are just under the bridge. We will reach the water at about 200 meters downstream. The first part will make it possible to discover the Styx.
Swimming in the secondary Styx canyon is an amazing experience! Depending on the water level, your guide will take you through the Styx grotto ( see the movie Verdon Secret ).
Crossing the boulders of Imbut
The most grandiose moment awaits further ahead, with the crossing of the Imbut. You will dive at the entrance of the boulders into darkness. Soon though, you’ll realize that you are swimming in a rock cathedral! The pools of the Imbut are much calmer than we imagine, but it is still a moment of stress when you jump in the Verdon to disappear into the Imbut!
A little further after crossing three consecutive pools, you climb a large boulder to jump into the pool of the “Baou Benit”.
Remember Alfred Martel
Remember that the explorer Edouard Alfred Martel did not dare to cross the Imbut in 1905. You will understand why! The first crossing took place thanks to a student of Martel, and it only took place in 1927. Since then, however we have known that it’s easy!
As Marcel Pagnol wrote: “Everyone knew it was impossible. Then one day, a fool appeared, who did not know, and he did it!
Hire a guide for Canyoning and Canyoneering in the Verdon Gorges
It is important to choose your guides correctly. Remember that not all guides are local. Therefore, we advise you choose experienced guides who have lived in the region.
Guides for Adventure: undoubtedly, the most experienced.
The Verdonians: one of the best canyon guides, who is also a guide trainer.
You can book online at this website, call us at the Moustiers shop.
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