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Frequently asked questions

 

Your questions ? Our answers !

You are asking a question about an activity or the physical level required ? We might already have the answer ! But if it was not the case, do not hesitate to contact us !

 


When can we do these kinds of activities ?

Our activities can start as early as mid-March, depending on how much snow has melted off the mountains (snowmelt). During this period up until mid-May, we offer such activities as rafting, canoeing or kayak-rafting. For the most part we sail down the ‘Haut-Verdon’, from the beginning of the natural source, where the water level allows for a more athletic and varied descent.

This period also provides for the perfect opportunity to sail down the spectacular (red) ‘Gorges de Daluis’ .

As of mid-May we begin Canyoning & Aqua-trekking activities, however, this said – it remains the beginning of the season and it may not be till June until you can really make the most of these two activities.

June remains the best time in which to discover the Verdon Grand Canyon and to do aqua-trekking.

The nearer it gets to the summer solstice, the more remarkable it is when the sun-light penetrates this immense Canyon (we have uploaded several photographs of this magnificent trek.) 

During the months of July and August, Tuesday’s and Friday’s (allocated day’s of water release from the dams) are the day’s whereby it is possible to practise activities such as rafting, canoeing, kayak-rafting or hydrospeed on the Verdon river.
The other days of the week, as the water levels are much lower and the current is much weaker, we take the opportunity to enter the Grand Canyon to practise aqua-trekking. Canyoning also becomes possible during these two months; however, July remains the best month to practise this activity, as some canyons are not accessible towards the end of the summer season. 

In September, as the weather is still mild in the Verdon, we make the most of the end of the season to offer all-day activities with packed lunches, or unique and varied half-day activities, which are always done in a warm and friendly atmosphere.

The water levels are usually much stronger in the months of July and August in the ‘Moyen Verdon’ which allows for a much more fast pace descent down the river.

For further information on the possibility of Canyoning and aqua-trekking activities please contact us directly.

October - November:

Once the dams are opened on the Verdon, we offer rafting, canoeing or kayak-rafting, which are usually offered as a day-trip activity including a picnic, or as a half-day activity – Hydrospeed is always offered as a half-day activity.


How difficult are the activities? How do we choose an activity?

The majority of our activities are ideal for beginners; all that is required is that you are able to swim.

You will be provided with a wet-suit and a life-jacket, will enable you to float in the event of capsizing.

You will be accompanied by a qualified guide at all times and a driver and minibus will follow the descent, enabling them to collect anyone in the event of an emergency.

The biggest attraction of our day’s out, are that they give you the perfect opportunity to discover fantastic sites that are inaccessible to the public, that said, you will not be put in any danger whatsoever.

Nevertheless, if you have never experienced white-water, you may prefer to begin by rafting due to its secure nature and user-friendliness, or by aqua-trekking as a half-day activity to get the feel of white-water activities.

Canoeing, kayak-rafting and hydrospeed require a greater level of autonomy than that of rafting, so you mustn’t be afraid to be thrown by the current or sprayed by a few waves.

In order to participate in Canyoning, you must not be afraid of heights and be able to do jumps into the water from a minimum height of 1.5 metres (although there are various heights to jump from in the canyon).

Aqua-trekking as a whole day’s activity and is without a doubt the most physical activity and requires a good physical condition and to not suffer from vertigo.


What is the required Ages ?

Our activities are available to all those over the age of 8 years old and there is no age limit, the dean of which is 77 years of age! That said, you must be able to swim!

For Canyoning it is very important that you are not afraid of heights!

For children all activities come in the form of initiation descents: initiation to rafting, half-day aqua-trekking or initiation to Canyoning.

You could also opt for a raft descent of 2h30 that departs from Castellane, as it remains a family friendly excursion.

As of 12 years of age, it is possible to partake in such activities as canoeing and kayak-rafting.

In order to do Hydrospeed or aqua-trekking as a whole day’s excursion, you must be over 14 years old (150cm min) as they are very physical activities.


What equipment do I need to bring ?

We will provide all the equipment required for each activity, including specialised wetsuits.

You must bring your own swimming costume or swimming trunks and a pair of light-wear lace up shoes (trainers), if however, you do not have any such shoes, we will of course provide you with a pair.


The way in which the Verdon dams work

The ‘Moyen Verdon’ (as of Castellane), relies upon water release from the Hydro-electric dams situated above Castellane.

When these dams are opened, it becomes possible to practise such activities as rafting/canoeing/kayak-rafting or hydrospeed (activities that depart from Castellane and go as far as the entrance of the Grand Canyon: ‘the Samson Corridor’ – a descent of 25km).

When the dams are closed, we take the opportunity of the low water levels to practise aqua-trekking so as to best appreciate the Grand Canyon.

During the months of July and August, the dams are usually opened only on Tuesday’s and Friday’s.

Out of season, we are only informed up to three days in advance as to the quantity of water release from the dams, therefore confirmation of the activity program is only possible the night before.

The only certainty is that there Is rarely water  release during the weekends or during bank holidays!

For more information on the water levels of the Verdon, you can contact the EDF directory directly on: + 33 (0)4.92.83.69.07


What is aqua-trekking ? How difficult is it ? How is it different to Canyoning ?

Aqua-trekking is the most popular activity on the Verdon. We make the most of the low water levels due to the closure of the dams to enter the Grand Canyon to experience its unique environment.

The way in which we progress through the canyon is very simple so as to allow for the greatest number of participants; using such methods as ‘floating’ (allowing the current to carry you down-stream on your back, using your arms to direct yourself), swimming, walking, and even jumping off rocks for the more daring of the group.

Aqua-trekking on a half day basis, starts from the Samson Corridor at the entrance to the Grand Canyon and is available to those of 8 years old and above. This activity appeals to everybody, from sporty-types to the more contemplative.

One aspect of the activity worth mentioning however, is that the walk back takes about 15 minutes and includes walking through the tunnels of the ‘Sentier Martel’ (the longest of which is 700m in total darkness), we will of course be equipped with torches – but these may pose a problem for those who suffer from claustrophobia!
Aqua-trekking as a whole day activity is without a doubt the most beautiful in the Verdon, it is also the most physical.

The activity takes place in the very heart of the Canyon, where the Canyon is at its most narrow and is particularly bewitching.

We offer this activity as of the end of May right up until mid-September.

In July and August, this activity is available every day except for Tuesday’s and Friday’s, which are the days whereby there is water release from the dams, enabling descents down the Verdon by raft etc. Nevertheless, June and July are the best periods in which to practise this activity

This kind of aqua-trekking requires a certain level of stamina and even though we make sure to make the most of the environment to aid our descent and take our time in doing so, it is nonetheless important to be in a good physical condition.

The activity involves a 45 minute walk down into the canyon taking the ‘Sentier des Cavaliers’ before reaching the Verdon River whereby the next 4 hours activity are entirely water based: including swimming, jumps, floating along with the current to finally reach the ‘Imbut’ caves – a most spectacular natural phenomenon if ever there was one!

Save your energy though, as you will need it to confront the spectacular hike that is the ‘Sortie Vidal’. Not one for the faint of heart, as it requires tremendous physical energy and a head for heights with a gradient of 300m, which will lead us back to the minibuses.

(Approximately a 1 hour to 1h30 hike back – not recommended for those who suffer from Vertigo!)

In regards to Canyoning:

- Aqua-trekking is practised in the Grand Canyon – 100% Verdon experience! Whereas Canyoning is practised in other various Canyon’s in the region surrounding Castellane.

- The rate of progress also differs due to the fact that Canyoning is essentially a down-ward descent down considerable verticals, using ropes to abseil or to slide down (Zip-lines). Aqua-trekking involves very little difference in the height of the landscape, with no abseiling, all obstacles are reasonable and the jumps are not compulsory.


General Information

For aqua-trekking activities, we will pick you up in a mini-bus from Castellane, or from your campsite if you are staying at one situated on the ‘route des gorges’ where we will take you to the starting point of your activity….and if you play your cards right, we will of course bring you back!

The same applies for rafting, canoeing and kayak-rafting on the Verdon from Castellane, however, if the activity is to take place in the ‘Var’ or the ‘Haut Verdon’, we may ask you to follow us in your own vehicle to the beginning of the activity, unless you have arranged to meet us there.

In regards to Canyoning, either we will arrange for you to meet your guide in Castellane and follow them in your car to the starting point of the activity, or we will pre-arrange to meet on site.

It is company policy that you must reserve at least two weeks in advance (see our terms and conditions page), you can always contact our office by mail or by telephone to enquire about our program and to have a more detailed description.

We will ask you how many people intend to participate in your chosen activity, your ages, their level of competence etc. If you wish to make a reservation you must print off a copy of our reservation forms that can be found on our website – please fill them in and send off the completed form along with a cheque (deposit) to our office.


What are the group rates ?

If you are in a group of 8 or more people – you will of course receive a special group rate that will be reduced further after the second activity.

We will provide your group with a detailed listing.


Can I wear my contact lenses/ glasses ?

For river trips (rafting/canoeing/ kayak-rafting or hydrospeed) your contact lenses shouldn’t pose any problems, as you will only be sprayed with water and will not have your head under water at all.

For Canyoning and aqua-trekking you may want to bring swimming goggles so as to make the most of the occasions where you will be under-water.

For those who require glasses at all times, you may want to bring some string to keep your glasses in place, or you can drop into the office to see Sandrine, who can sell you appropriate water-proof cords.


Activities in regards to pre-arranged educational excursions

Our activities can be specially adapted to fit into your educational excursion. Our geological expertise and knowledge of the eco-system of the river beds favour aqua-trekking activities – making our activities the perfect teaching method!

Castellane is a historic village, situated in the natural Verdon Park and geological reserve of ‘Haute Provence’ making it the ideal destination for pedagogic excursions, on a local level, the Mermaid & Fossil museum in Castellane as well as the nearby palaeontological site are unique and could complement your stay and studies.


What if I have a handicap ?

The Buena Vista Rafting team can offer you activities that can be appropriately adapted to your needs.

Whether you have reduced visibility/hearing or reduced mobility or are accompanying a group of mentally handicapped individuals – do not hesitate to contact us.

Rafting – being a team activity is usually the best way in which to discover the Verdon and receive the best experience of white-water activities.


What if I’m pregnant !

We do not have a gynaecologist in our team and it is our personal opinion that such activities are far too dangerous and we do not recommend taking such a risk.

The first months of pregnancy can often be susceptible to great dangers such as miscarriages; we therefore recommend that you contact a specialist for their opinion, which will enable you to make an informed decision before undertaking an activity. 


Multi-activity programs & accommodation

Our multi-activity programs do NOT include accommodation; however, do not hesitate to look at our web-page on accommodation for further ideas, or to contact us directly for our advice on the region and its various attributes so as to best prepare you for your stay.


I would like a gift voucher

If you would like to offer a loved one the opportunity to participate in an activity, we can organise gift vouchers and send them to you so as to keep it a secret!


Do you rent canoes ?

In regards to the white water section of the Verdon (between Castellane and the Point Sublime), there are no raft boutiques that offer boat rentals.

All of our descents are accompanied by state qualified guides, if however, you wish to remain autonomous you can always rent canoes/kayaks/pedalos or electric boats on one of the calm water lakes (Castillon/Sainte Croix).