PHOTO: A dizzying perspective during a canyoning expedition. (photo via Flickr/Luigi Mengato)
Canyoning is the up-and-coming adventure experience that allows travelers to immerse themselves in spectacular river settings and enjoy nature during an up close encounter unlike any other. It combines a variety of activities such as cliff jumping, swimming, snorkeling, hiking, bouldering, down-climbing, abseiling/rappel rope work and sliding down waterfalls.
This new extreme sport continues to grow around the world as more tour companies rise up to meet demand.
Canyoning was first developed in Switzerland, but it quickly gained popularity and spread throughout Europe. Due to variations in natural landscapes and geography, it's an activity that’s unique to every destination where offered.
My first experience was through a company called Behana Canyoning, which operates out of Cairns in Queensland, Australia. For this specific destination, I advise visitors to sign up for at least one adventure or rainforest activity such as canyoning along with a tour to the world-renowned Great Barrier Reef.
Behana Canyoning is a relatively new company that has only been operating for ten months as of March, 2017. Yet, their ability to smoothly execute tours while supervising and engaging with participants is solid. The guides’ extensive knowledge of local topography is impressive as well as their ability to forge an exciting route through the gorge.
Every group is led by two guides—Behana Canyoning has a maximum of ten participants per tour. They’re currently the only company with exclusive access to the maintenance road that leads to the Behana Gorge, and at the time of writing, there aren’t any other tours that visit this spectacular natural feature.
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This means participants have the privilege of enjoying the natural surroundings, tropical rainforest and gushing waterfalls in a relatively private and undisturbed fashion.
Safety is the number one priority in Queensland, and canyoning excursions are no exception. Behana Canyoning provides participants with life vests, wetsuit tops for warmth and a helmet. There’s a good amount of physical exertion involved with canyoning, so it’s important to inform guides about any pre-existing medical conditions, injuries or limitations you feel you may have in advance.
I recommend wearing water shoes with good grips to get better traction as well as bathing suit bottoms or shorts that stop above the knee. Longer shorts are better for protecting skin from the harness straps. Some women might benefit from wearing a sports bra beneath their wetsuit versus a bathing suit top for this type of vigorous activity.
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No prior climbing experience is required to go canyoning, but Behana Canyoning recommends their tour for ages 12 and up. Guides remain with participants throughout the entire experience, creating a means to safely navigate and trek through the fantastic terrain.
Prepare to be active, energetic and have tons of fun!
All this activity and adventure is enough to work up a sizable appetite. Fortunately, Behana Canyoning provides a break halfway through the tour for morning tea and biscuits, as well as a delicious lunch of gourmet sandwiches at the conclusion of canyoning.
Whether visiting Queensland, Australia with the opportunity to explore with Behana Canyoning—or perhaps you are visiting another destination where canyoning is available—I highly recommend you look into your options and experience this new trend in adventure travel!
Prefer to appreciate nature in a more leisurely manner? There are countless other tours out of Cairns that allow participants to experience the natural beauty of Tropical North Queensland.
For example, Barefoot Tours escorts participants to various waterfalls around the Tablelands and is geared towards the youth backpacking market. Global Travel Services is ideal for families and mature travelers; Their tours include short guided nature walks and visits to various waterfalls.