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Looking for Beta on Canyeering in Portugal/Spain

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Scott Braithwaite, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. Scott Braithwaite

    Scott Braithwaite

    Woodland Hills
    Hello all,

    this is the first I have posted on Canyon Collective, hope everything goes well

    I'm taking a trip to Portugal/Spain in June and want to do some canyoneering while there. I've lead a number of trips in Southern Utah, but haven't done anything outside of the state. If anyone has information on the following things I would appreciate any input

    -Where I can find Beta on canyons in Portugal/Spain
    -Are there any laws or regulations I have to consider when canyoneering in a different country
    -Any connections/people who might live in the region with skill that I could join up with

    My main point of interest is the Portuguese owned island of Madeira. I know it has some beautiful canyons with guided tours, but haven't found any place with beta that would help an individual plan a trip without tour guides. We will also be in the Southern half of Portugal and South West portion of Spain.

    I do speak spanish and portugese, although canyoneering lingo in those languages would be a new vocabulary I would need to learn.
  2. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

    Woodland Hills, UT is a good place to start as it will let you know which canyons are close to each other. It doesn’t have much beta on the site itself, but it does have links to sites that do. One of the main European sites for beta is A French site called, but it’s down for maintenance at the moment.
  3. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

    As you suspected, the best canyoning in Portugal is on the island of Madeira rather than the mainland. I have done some good canyons there. June is a little late; but some still might be good.

    In Spain, Mallorca and the Pyrenees both have good canyoning. June might be too early for the Pyrenees and a little late for Mallorca though, so you would have to have some flexibility. I don't know SW Spain; I have never been to that part.

    As far as I know there are no restrictions in either country when it comes to canyoning. You are pretty much free to do any canyon you want, whether or not you have a guide.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2019
  4. Sonny Lawrence

    Sonny Lawrence

    I have done canyons in Madiera, Mallorca and Sierra de Guara. We will return to Guara and the Spanish Pyrenees in July. Great fun. Tom is correct that ropewiki is a good place to start. Unfortunately with changes in how Google Maps does business, the links in ropewiki to are fouled up. Descente-canyon is the real source. They seem to have rebuilt their site after the G Map changes. I have not used the new version.
  5. Nordschleife


    Hellevoetsluis, Holland for some beta, all in french.
    In the Pyrenees you can do canyons in June just not all. Sierra de guara is nice in june.
    Snow levels are low so far this year in the Pyrenees, just started snowing about 2 weeks ago.
    Not familiar with the SW of Spain and Portugal/Madeira. Canyons should be doable throughout the whole year.
    As far as regulation goes, all i know of is the sierra de guara has some rules but not much.
  6. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

    Salt Lake City
    A few of us attended the RIC get together on Madiera in 2013. From my notes:

    Hortela Inferior – 1000 step uphill approach. Walk levada then rap before a waterfall which is caught by a built basin and folded back into the levada. Big drop from semi hanging station. Green with flowers in bloom everywhere. Bunch of rappels.

    Pedro Branco & Funda (from same car park). Funda great. Some rockfall risk. Both finish on road (closed) at/above ocean.

    Passo Superior – Fun. Shuttle approach up rough road to trailhead. Walk in along levada and through tunnels (headlamp!). Levada hike out after a bunch of rappels. Super canyon.

    Sexial Superior – Shuttle approach. Big opening rappel. Lush and scenic with nice colors and clear water. Dinner at rural place near car park was fun.

    We based out of Porto Muniz at the Hotel Moniz Sol with a good rate (40 euro with breakfast for a large room). Great location.

    A couple of thoughts...some of the rappels had semi hanging stations (to minimize rope damage and facilitate rope pulls). I was thankful to have folks that knew how to rig fairly well, and, some of the configurations were exposed, wet, and a bit of a cluster (anchors not always "easy"). Some loose rock. Some very sharp and abrasive rock. All manageable with skill, of course.

    Water flow in terms of hydraulics was never really an issue. Most of the waterfalls didn't have huge flow (we were there 22-26 May) and the pools and streams weren't of much consequence, per se. Most canyons had a fairly long drop (60m+) or more. And, the short canyons seemed to have around 8 or 9 rappels, the longer ones in the 20's.

    Some of the exposed traverses to anchor locations were semi protected with cable. Some of the anchoring didn't look built to last (maybe not the best materials for a wet, maritime climate). I'd take care inspecting rap stations etc.

    Logistics weren't super complicated, but, its always nice to have fairly good beta (the rendezvous provided booklets with info) and the car shuttles were well orchestrated. If I went back, I'd consider a guide for the shuttle and approach, not necessarily the canyons themselves.

    Partly, at least for me, what made Madeira neat, was the flora and configuration of the canyons with levada trail approaches (with tunnels, some quite long! Take a headlamp!). The island is green (wet). Food was good. Locals were friendly.

    If you pick some canyons, post up your hit list and let's see if there's any specific beta to be had. I have topo's for the canyons we did.

    Southwest Spain? Not known as a canyon destination methinks. I know there's a smattering of them around Grenada. Spent a couple weeks touristing and climbing south of Grenada to Tarife, Merida, Seville, Gibralter, Antequera, El Chorro, Nerja... Fun area.
  7. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

    We did Ribeiro Frio on Madeira simply because we were told that it was the most scenic of the technical canyons on the island and because it has some real slot sections. I have heard that it can be out of season in summer though, though I don't know exactly when that starts.
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