Archive for March, 2013

Mar 28 2013


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10 days, 8 rivers, 5 different areas – that’s what a successful trip means to me… Add a bit of wind, rain, snow and Chorizo > that’s paddling in Spain.

With flights from Geneva to Bilbao being rather cheap, we decided to head off for a spontaneous trip with our friend Txus who planned to leave for a short recognition tour to Galicia to check for commercial trip potential. The first four days we spent paddling around Durango, exploring Basque country. Snowmelt was slowly starting and provided nice levels in some of the creeks in the valleys nearby. Ever heard of Aranzazu or Salazar? Whilst one offers a 3km staircaselike gorge with very continous action the other one lies hidden in Arbai’un – an almost Verdon like gorge. Although the whitewater is not too hard a couple of drops with sticky holes at the end of the ride require a bit of attention.


Next stop was the classic run on the Gallego river – ghastly winds and nearly freezing temperatures forced us to finish the run in racepace. Not much time to enjoy the sight of the famous climbing walls of Riglos… This day, hot coffee in Paco’s bar in Murillo was the much better option! We then returned to Durango to set for Galicia.

As paddlers are either kayaking, eating or sleeping, we started day 4 by buying all the tasty (and healthy) stuff Spain has to offer: Chorizo, Jamon, Queso, Chips, Chocolates, Cornflakes, Cerveza… Then jammed everything and everyone in the van and off we went. Although we started in the afternoon, we managed to paddle Gandara river in Cantabria. It’s a nice run and definitely worth to do on the fly-by. A late evening lunch on the village’s central place and some hours driving later we spent the night on a parking lot in the middle of the town of Arriondas to paddle Asturia’s Ponga/Sella the next day.

On day 6 we finally arrived in Galicia, ready for some action. Like Corsica, it’s a whitewater paradise, but it demands his toll. Rivers are not easy to find (and local advices sometimes a bit treacherous), scouting and portaging can be quite a task, and yes – it rains a lot! But it’s worth every bit of cursing and removing thorns from everything. In three days we paddled Upper Ulla, Classic Deza and Parada – three very different rivers in also different valleys. Unfortunately due to really bad weather we were not able to pull over to Portugal to paddle Castro Laboreiro – a good excuse to come back!

The five hour drive back to Durango provided some action. Short, but heavy snowfall near the portuguese border forced us to mount the chains on the highway :-) .


Conclusion of the recignition trip: Apart from top creeking Galicia certainly offers great potential for commercial or intermediate trips. Most of the rivers lie within a 100 kms range, so a basecamp in a rental house makes sense. It’s not only a paradise for the creeking maniac, it also has to offer plenty of class 3 and 4 runs for the intermediate paddler who does not care for some rain and thorns… And flights to Santiago are really cheap. For more information check Urnomade's new website for 2014 trips!

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