Canyoning descents in the Verdon Grand Canyon
The Gorges du Verdon in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence is a huge draw for canyoning enthusiasts wanting to escape the crowds of the Côte d’Azur and enjoy the spectacular scenery and meandering turquoise waters of this vast wilderness.
You’d need a decade to fully explore all the possibilities for adventure in the Gorges du Verdon, and canyoning enthusiasts are spoilt for choice with descents for all abilities. Jump, slide, swim and abseil your way from one crystal clear emerald pool to the next.
Book a Canyoning Trip in the Gorges du Verdon
Our canyoning partners offer full-day and half-day canyoning adventures and cater to all abilities and group sizes. Canyoning adventures are staged in magnificent mountain terrain in remote locations. Take a guide, you’ll be safer and you’ll have a lot more fun.
Verdon Grand Canyon Aqua Trekking
Canyoning through the Verdon Grand Canyon is a great way to discover one of the most spectacular parts of the Gorges du Verdon. This is a full day’s adventure and the backdrop of awe-inspiring scenery and feeling of isolation gives this trip the sense of a real expedition. The descent doesn’t require ropes, so is described as a rando aquatique, or whitewater trek.
The canyoning descent begins with a hike down 400 m of vertical drop on the Imbut Trail. Once at the river, you’ll alternate between swimming the rapids, trekking, and jumping. All the jumps are optional, and there are jumps of up to 12 m for the most daring in your group. The full descent takes 6 hours including the hike down, 3 hours in the water, a pause for lunch, and the killer 400 m climb back out of the canyon.
To enjoy the descent, you need a good level of fitness and a head for heights. The long day and isolation means it’s only suitable for kids over 14. Bring old trainers, swimmers, a picnic and plenty of drinking water. For this canyon, it’s best to go with a qualified guide. Ride the Verdon run trips throughout the summer and limit the group size to 8. Meet at Falaise des Cavaliers, RD 71, 83630 Aiguines.
The Artuby is a formidable canyon with breathtaking scenery located on the left bank of the Verdon River, about an hour’s drive from La Palud. Park near the impressive bridge that spans the Gorges de l’Artuby and follow the sound of whitewater. On the weekends you can bungee jump from the bridge.
The high and imposing canyon walls are positively cathedral-like. You can descend the Artuby when dry (zero flow) or with a decent flow, each condition providing a completely different experience. When the water’s flowing, you swim through frigid water that can be brown in colour. The combination of the cold brown water and sheer scale of the canyon can make it a bit daunting if it’s your first time canyoning.
When it’s at zero flow, you spend a lot more time hiking and down-climbing than swimming and jumping. The end of the descent is fed from additional sources and has more water, and the water regains its sparkling turquoise colour.
The Artuby is a long canyon, so save some energy for the scramble back up. Bring some energy bars and plenty of water, and get informed about the weather as a storm to the north-east can quickly flood the canyon.
Couloir Samson Canyoning
This is a fun and easy canyon accessible to everyone including kids from 7 years old. The narrowness and height of the canyon give the Couloir Samson a grandiose atmosphere that can make you feel very small. The descent is described as a randonnée aquatique, or whitewater trek, rather than a canyoning descent as it doesn’t involve any rope work.
It’s one of the shorter descents as well and can easily be completed in 2 to 2.5 hours. Be aware though that although it is an easy canyon, there are some fast flowing sections that could be hazardous. For daredevils, there are some optional jumps up to 8 m, and to spice things up, you could rig up a zipline just before the Baume aux Pigeons cave.
This descent is very popular with canyoning companies and from the 15 July to the 15 August there’s a new group coming through almost every 20 minutes. The ideal flow of 1.5 m3 per second is controlled by the dam upstream. On Tuesdays and Fridays, dam-released flow means the river is reserved for rafting and kayaking.
To access the Couloir Samson from Castellane, take La Route des Pré-Gorges (d953), and after the village of La Palud and before the tunnel, park in the Martel trail car park. Go down the steps and turn right onto the trail towards the river. Get changed on the little beach before the trail enters a tunnel. The end of the descent is marked by boulders (and sunbathers) on river right. Hike back to the car park on the Martel Trail.
Baudan Baou Canyoning
When the Baudan Baou was first descended commercially the canyon was run in its entirety. It involved a lot of walking and mostly just a trickle of frigid water. Then a canny canyoner, found a short cut that enabled just the best of the Baou to be included in the descent.
The canyon is nearly always dry with a few overhanging rocks and slippery slabs that require up to a 17 m abseil. Despite its mostly easygoing nature, the Baou is always very cold and susceptible to flash flooding, so you need to pay attention to the weather conditions. There are some optional jumps for gravity seekers.
Haut Jabron Canyoning
The Haut Jabron is a short descent by Gorges du Verdon standards, but being a tributary of the Verdon, if you did follow the canyon to the end, it would eventually spit you out in the main river. It’s a beautiful canyon with some curvaceous limestone formations. There’s always some flow in the Jabron even in the height of summer.
Thrill-seekers will love the natural water slides and rock jumps. However, you’ll need a volunteer to abseil down and check any landing pools for obstructions, as it’s not uncommon for tree branches to get dangerously lodged. They’ll need a 15 m rope. When there’s less flow in the canyon, the water takes on that notorious emerald green colour and positively sparkles in places.
As the descent only takes three quarters of an hour, there’s a tradition that says you should run it a second time. And, because this time you know it, you can really go for those jumps.