Sunday, July 16, 2006

Canyoning in 'The Llech' River, South France [Gorges del Llech].


By this time of the year me and me mates Jordi&Liam we make our weekend trip to the south of France to the 'Llech River' near a beautiful village called Prades. From Barcelona to the french border it takes about 3 hour drive and then another extra hour to find the river on the other side of the Pyrenees.

Our main target is to make an outdoor activity called 'Canyoning' or 'canyoneering', in other words make the whole way down of a river through a bunch of natural clean water cascades, where you can throw yourself down through natural water made slide rocks, and also exciting dives 50 feet high in waterfalls [called 'Kloofing'] until you finally reach the bottom end.

The Llech river is a fantastic route and once you made the first dive, which is about 12 feet high, escape out the sides of the river is not an option, so you really have to be sure and commited you want to do it because things will get more exciting later on.

In other words: There is no way back.

15 meters high Rapel

In between June and September the river has the perfect current strenght and I think is the time allowed to do such activity by the french authorities as a security measure. You need one of those wierd wet suits customs, ropes,a helmet, some climbing hardware and also a plastic bottle to put all your stuff inside, like wallet, camera, lighter, lamp, weed or any other emergency supplies.

You can find all the equipment in one of those specialized Extreme sport shops, and its not expensive if you rent it just for one day.


Once you park the car it takes about 30 min walk to the starting point where you change your clothes. I would confidently say is a safe activity for starters, and it gets better if you go with someone has experienced it before.
The river is prepared in some parts allowing you to climb down if there are jumpings you dont want to do because they are too high. Despite its security I will recommend caution for first timers and not to take unnecesary risks as its not rare to see emergency rescues every summer over there.

First time I went to the Llech River when we were finishing it about 6 pm we saw a french emergency helicopter who came for some people where stuck near the top. Maybe someone falled and got wounded, must probably but we will never know.

That time we were a pretty crowded group, about 10 or 12, and there were two brave canyoneer girls amongst us, one seemed enjoyed the whole trip, but the other one lost a bit her temper half way when she firmly grabbed me by my arm and begging me to not to leave her there, she did it a couple of times, both crying, while at the same time I could hear his boyfriend screaming on full excitement going down the natural water
I made my best to convince her she had to go down as well as the other ones, thing she finally did thanks god. Later on the evening she thank me for my help.

River Llech from bottom

The time to make the whole journey in the river takes about 2 hours, bit less than a mile down with continous water flow. Skilled people can do it in less than 2 hours. So you have to make sure to start in a prudential time before it gets dark at 7-8 pm. Best time is probably about 1 pm after a good 'brunch' and few beers [Catalan 'Estrella' lager of course].

Guillermo and Jordi before jump

The main attraction is waiting at the end of the river, on the last part, there is where we can find the spectacular 'Shuttle' slide, which is about 20 feet long slide followed by another 30 feet vertical fall into the water.
Amazing. Then after a couple of slides more there is the way out and a little 30 minutes walk to the car park.

Fuck Alton Towers, 'Universal Port Aventura' or other Water parks. 'The Llech' is the Real thing.
And its free!

Guillermo, Jordi and Mario!

The Llech river is nothing but fun, and I can assure you tones of adrenaline are released. It does involves scrambling, climbing, jumping and abseiling, the full pack in once!.
You end up wet, exhausted and extremly hungry but its a well worth experience.

Simply the best water-sports canyon I' ve ever done.

My mate Guillermo is been there no less than 20 times and Jordi another half dozen at least. I have been there only twice but one thing is for sure, we all want to go there again.

And we will!


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