Canyoning is an adventure activity in which canyoners travel through canyons located in the foothills of mountains, through fascinating and untouched nature, by overcoming natural obstacles such as waterfalls, cascades, and natural pools. To accomplish this, various walking skills are used and techniques such as scrambling, climbing, abseiling, walking over outcropping terrain or through watercourses, squeezing through narrow slots, jumping into the water and swimming. Turquoise green water, incredible waterfalls, narrow passages, vertical cliffs, a variety of shapes of stone formations and walls sculpted by water over the years, the diversity of the plant and animal life, provide a truly aesthetic experience which makes this sport unique, attractive and enjoyable. Certain abilities such as navigation, orienteering, and many other skills useful in the wilderness, are necessary for this activity, which often takes place in extremely isolated and distant spots. The canyons perfect for this sport are cut into the bedrock, forming narrow gorges with numerous drops, sculpted walls and stunning waterfalls. Many types of rock are found in canyons. Canyons can be very easy to navigate, or extremely difficult and demanding, but the emphasis in this sport is usually on aesthetics, fun and adventure, rather than on technical difficulty. The number of people of all ages and skill levels taking part in this activity has been constantly on the rise throughout the world, with canyoning routes becoming more popular by the day. Canyoning in mountain canyons with running water is especially striking, and the Balkans offers numerous locations of this type. For those interested, extraordinary places suitable for this extreme sport can be found in the canyons of our region (Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia), while some of the leading countries of the world in canyoning are New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Brazil, Ecuador, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, Greece, and Jordan, among others. In South Africa, this activity is called Kloofing, due to the amount of jumping and climbing involved, while Wales and Scotland stand out as regions especially suitable for this sport in Europe.


As an extreme sport, canyoning can be very risky and can often land one in life-threatening situations. In some hazardous situations, when avoiding risk by escaping down the sides of the canyon is impossible, all one can do is complete the descent. Having in mind that many canyons are located in far-away, inaccessible places, it can take up to several hours or even days before the rescue team is able to reach the canyoner.


The most frequent hazard occurring in this extreme sport is rope tangling. In such situations, one depends on the reserve rope, and most often on other people as well. To find out more about this, take a look at our section on equipment.


Flash floods are a potential danger in any canyoning expedition. When a significant quantity of rainwater collects in canals and the water level rapidly rises, the canyon can flood. In canyons that drain large areas, strong rainfall may occur kilometres away from the canyoners, who are completely unaware of the possible risk. A strong storm close by can transform a calm, dry canyon into a raging torrent. Torrents have been known to result in fatalities over the years.


One of the hazards inherent in navigating canyons are temperature related illnesses. Sunstroke and exhaustion can occur if all the necessary preventative measures are not taken to ensure that proper hydration levels are maintained, and that intense rays of the sun are avoided, especially in arid desert canyons. Hypothermia can occur in all canyons that contain water. The risk can be reduced by using drysuits and wetsuits, however, it is necessary to determine the proper level of water protection needed. Nevertheless, hazardous and even fatal situations still occur.


Canyoning, especially in sandstone slots, at times requires the ability to avoid large potholes. These holes are circular pits in which the water is too deep to stand up in. In addition to this, the walls of these pits are very smooth, which makes climbing out extremely difficult. There are however special techniques and very ingenious equipment that canyoners use to escape potholes, among which are hooks attached to long poles, and special bags with ropes attached, which are thrown over the edge of the pothole in such situations. Some slot canyons are very narrow. Canyons narrower than humans are considered an especially interesting challenge. In some situations, the canyoner is forced to climb up very high, to a height where he can manoeuvre laterally with pressure on both walls of the canyon. This can be physically very demanding, and requires climbing up above the canyon floor, without any protection. Failure to complete the required moves can leave a canyoner trapped in the canyon. Always keep in mind that rescue can sometimes take a long time. Narrow sandstone slot canyons often have abrasive walls, which act as sandpaper when the canyoner moves or slides along them. The abrasion can damage clothes or gear, and can cause painful skin abrasions.


Often, as the result of inattention, a canyoner can receive insect or reptile bites, as well as injuries sustained by not wearing a helmet or other protective gear. Be sure to take care at all times!

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