I haven’t had any idea about Canyoning, before I went to the Dominican Republic. Canyons in the Dominican Republic? I didn’t know, that this exciting and exhausting activity even existed. During the first excursion I made, I became a devotee and lover of this extreme sport and conducted several Canyoning trips in the Dominican Republic. I would like to write this article to inform and make aware about this wonderful leisure pursuit in the beautiful natural surrounding on a Caribbean island. Read more about the ultimate guide to do Canyoning in the Dominican Republic in my article.
Approximate reading time: 10 minutes
(Last update: April 11, 2021)
- Index for fast navigation
- What is Canyoning?
- Is Canyoning a sport?
- Why is the Dominican Republic a paradise for Canyoning excursions?
- Is Canyoning in the Dominican Republic dangerous?
- How can I accomplish a Canyoning experience?
- What to consider when doing Canyoning in the Dominican Republic
- What do I need for Canyoning in the Dominican Republic?
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What is Canyoning?
Canyoning (US-English: Canyoneering) is a challenging mix of different outdoor activities. You should understand Canyoning as a hybrid exercise consisting of hiking, climbing, rappelling, cliff jumping, swimming, and diving. It requires you to be in a good physical shape to accomplish a trip that can last several miles and many hours. Canyoning is usually conducted with a professional and experienced tour guide who has local knowledge about the trail.
Special Canyoning equipment is needed to conduct a safe and sound Canyoning experience. Usually, Canyoning is offered as a touristic group excursion but can in theory also be conducted alone. Requirements for these outdoor exercises are semi-high. To be able to complete a Canyoning experience, you need to have some health and physical prerequisites.
Therefore, you can perceive Canyoning as an extreme sport to exert while surrounded by the elements of nature. The essential focus of Canyoning is the personal challenge and individual experience in the wild. Very often, Canyoning activities are made as team-building exercises to create a bond amongst the participants. Greenhorns and veterans come together and do Canyoning in gorges with fluvial resources.
Moreover, Canyoning trails are interactive outdoor activities along rivers, creeks, and ponds. You are in immediate contact with nature and get wet, dirty, and exhausted. It’s a welcoming alternative for all urban people who don’t spend a lot of time in nature. A Canyoning route brings you to places you would never see otherwise, e.g. the perspective from within a river or watefrall.
More than walking along these demanding trails, you are inside of the water and get pretty wet and dirty at the same time. This is, what usually attracts people to do Canyoning. Everything, that you’re not doing in your regular life. Canyoning is a very individual activity and a joyful exercise at the same time.
As I wrote before in the introduction: I haven’t had any idea, what Canyoning was before I did it myself for the first time. For me, it always looked on photos and during research as an overpriced tourist trap. Just a nice vacation memory for photos, but a barely an authentic adventure.
But WOW – How wrong was I. It still excites me to even think about the different Canyoning experiences I made in the Dominican Republic. So much adrenaline and joy! For me, my first Canyoning trip was a real eye-opener. Since then, I do Canyoning with passion and it’s for me an injection of happiness. I was proven wrong and really like Canyoning in the Dominican Republic.
Is Canyoning a sport?
No real clear line exists that disassociates Canyoning amongst sport, a touristic activity, and a pure hobby. Canyoning isn’t by definition a competition format which is conducted to be the first, best, fastest, etc. There are no official competitions based on time, degree of difficulty, or other categories possible or meaningful.
Would someone feel vindicated to be the fastest participant along a Canyoning trail? As described before, the leading idea is to accept and meet an outdoor challenge and to overcome one’s weaker self. It wouldn’t be a wise thing to compete on an unknown terrain without profound local knowledge or to do it as a speed run.
There are many reasons why it would be very difficult to conduct a Canyoning competition:
- You need to have a vast knowledge of the Canyoning area
- Too off-road to define it properly by dimensions or goals
- Most of the time, these trails are only known to local people and hard to find
- Because of security reasons, it’s a better idea to conduct it in groups of min. 4 people
- Difficulty levels vary very much on diurnal changes and the time of the day
- Many natural events (e.g. rainfall, drought, etc.) influence the water level
Hence, it isn’t possible to establish it officially as a real competitive sport. However, several international and national Canyoning associations exist to foster and develop Canyoning.
Why is the Dominican Republic a paradise for Canyoning excursions?
You would assume, that the Dominican Republic is a paradise for paradisiacal beaches and mass tourism in All-Inclusive-Hotels. I can’t deny that. But the real natural beauties are in the Centre of the island at a higher elevation. You can expect green landscapes and mountainous areas at a higher altitude.
Wherever there are lakes or rivers in the mountains, you can expect challenging hiking and Canyoning trails. The Dominican Republic has many of these natural resources available which are the best prerequisite of individual tourism. Far off the overcrowded touristic areas, you find these semi-hidden spots.
Sometimes, their location is clandestine or not mapped to not exploit them. In any event, they are too difficult to find and access and are somehow handled as a secret. And it would be very unfortunate if mass tourism from the coasts shifts to the mountains with tons of buses and hordes of package tourists to do these excursions.
Even if you know where to go, you would not know how to get there. Specialized Dominican tour operators cooperate with local tour guides and residents from the area who have broad experience in Canyoning. Technically, you do Canyoning on your own, but with the clear instructions of a tour guide. Rappelling is the only element where you would need a helping hand of someone else.
Because of that, these Canyoning activities are still an insider tip for individual tourism. Depending on the demand and bookings, you can even have it exclusive for you and your company. I remember being with groups of 2 people and having a blast! The smaller the groups, the faster you move forward and the more fun it is.
Is Canyoning in the Dominican Republic dangerous?
Every Canyoning trail is unique because mother nature shapes this terrain. As I wrote before, the water and difficulty level of every trail vary due to natural influences. Hence, if you like to do Canyoning, you need both professional and local guides with a piece of vast knowledge and experience. Usually, groups are accompanied by a trained medics or doctors, just to have quick access to first aid in cases of emergency.
There is of course a general risk when you are in the wild nature. Remember the mix of activities: Hiking, climbing, rappelling, cliff jumping, swimming, and diving. It’s a very active combination of multiple exercises and all of them contain essential jeopardy. Because of that, you can answer that question to yourself.
You can easily slip, stumble, fall, etc. in the unsteady terrain. Therefore, injuries are always possible. But during all the Canyoning excursions I made in the Dominican Republic, I was never confronted with an injury. Not by myself or from someone else in the group.
Canyoning is as dangerous as you want it to be. On the Canyoning trails, there’s most of the time the option to avoid deep jumps, go the safer way, and do not take additional risks. Tour guides know every stone and can estimate the danger better than you. They can help you to find the safest way along the trail.
How can I accomplish a Canyoning experience?
Usually, tour agencies rule out Canyoning exercises for all of those who are pregnant, injured, or disabled, cannot swim, have a fear of heights, etc. If you belong to at least one of these categories, a Canyoning activity isn’t the right thing for you.
If you are free to do a Canyoning exercise, you know yourself best and can estimate your potential and capabilities. Check the requirements and given information from the tour operator. Are you sure that you can accomplish a Canyoning exercise?
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to unsell your idea of doing Canyoning exercises. But I remember doing Canyoning trips before and having several other participants in the group who slowed the group down because they have had fear of heights or weren’t in a sufficient physical condition to make it.
In addition to that, you need to be in a good shape. Be at least perseverant enough to accomplish a hiking trail of several miles. If you are going regularly to the gym or do endurance sports, that’s the best preparation for Canyoning. You will need muscles, breath, and repetitions to make it. No drinks or drugs the night before. Better not even think about doing it with a hangover. Canyoning trips start usually early in the morning and you should be in a good form of the day to make it.
Remember: Doing Canyoning for 5 miles isn’t the same as 5 miles of a moderate hike. All the other disciplines of a Canyoning experience are exhausting and can be easily underestimated by a participant. Double-check the information of the tour operator.
Are there some more things to consider for Canyoning in the Dominican Republic?
Remember, that there are hot temperatures and high humidity in the Canyoning areas in the Dominican Republic. Although the fresh water will cool you down, the other weather-related circumstances could aggravate your performance. It might be a good idea to apply sunscreen to not get sunburnt, albeit you are wearing a wetsuit and a helmet.
In addition to that, you should bring your food and drinks to the excursion. You can’t carry your stuff with you during the excursion. But I would recommend you nevertheless to eat and drink on the way to the excursion in the bus or car. Having enough energy reserves is key before starting Canyoning.
Every excursion I did had a meal included. Of course, this meal is served after finishing the Canyoning trail. During the Canyoning exercise, you don’t have any chance to buy or obtain food as you are in the wild and relentless nature. Some tours have snacks included, but it’s not more than a bite.
It takes hours until you have a full meal again. Consider that and be prepared with sufficient calorie storage. A good breakfast would be the minimum requirement to have enough energy reserves.
Bonus advice: Check your global health insurance, if they cover extreme sports as well. In the end, you put yourself voluntarily in danger. We all know, how insurances love to discuss and repudiate individual cases. The tour operator might have this trip actuarial covered, but what does it mean in a country like the Dominican Republic? Better safe before than sorry later.
What do I need for Canyoning in the Dominican Republic?
Next to the drinks and food, there aren’t many things to bring with you. Taking professional equipment (e.g. helmet, ropes, backpack, carabiner, wetsuit) is the responsibility of the tour operator.
Don’t come with hip fashion or your Sunday suit. What you need are some old clothes and tennis shoes with a deeper profile. Some excursions recommend water shoes. They give you an additional grip and are more comfortable to wear when getting moist.
You can’t bring a drone and I wouldn’t recommend bringing your mobile phone. Even if it’s water-proof or protected by a plastic jacket: You are jumping around rugged landscapes into the water. The chances of a cracked screen or losing your phone below the water surface are quite severe.
Having the right technical equipment for photos and videos is key!
Better bring an Action Cam with you. When I did my first exercise, I haven’t had an Action Cam yet and didn’t want to waste my iPhone. Thus, I was dependent on the photographic talents of the tour guide. He had a waterproof camera, that was 10 years old and didn’t have a video function. From this Canyoning excursion, I have the least footage with the lowest quality.
I realized that I needed for those types of natural surroundings a GoPro because regular cameras aren’t good enough. Thus, I bought a GoPro Hero 7 Black and took many photos and videos on my website with it.
Recommendable for adrenalized outdoor activities like Canyoning in the Dominican Republic.
I hope that you enjoyed my ultimate guide for Canyoning in the Dominican Republic and that you gained a lot of helpful information about it. Do you have any questions? Remarks? Comments?
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