With over 100 equipped canyoning routes, Azores emerge as a territory of excellence for the practice of canyoning, being the routes distributed by São Miguel, Santa Maria, Faial, Terceira and especially Flores and São Jorge islands.
In general, these routes show great beauty, different difficulty levels, and – as main attractions - high drops and waterfalls ending in the sea.
Azorean islands are of volcanic origin, being the predominant rocks of the andesitic complex type, with dark colours, and pyroclastic materials of modern projection. In general, the rock is consolidated, especially in some of the larger drops. Due to its characteristics, this rock has sharp edges, can be highly fragmented at places but also with consolidated strata, which may present some difficulties for canyoners.
The geology of the island also influences the characteristics of the routes, prevailing quite consolidated basaltic rocks alternating with softer strata. Some canyoning routes can be quite slippery and require good technique in management of the ropes to avoid damage in rock edges and from falling rocks.
Due to the abundance of water and the mild climate, canyoning is possible during most of the year, being the best season between April and October, although always limited by the weather and stream flow conditions.
Despite the relatively high precipitation, steep slopes and small catchment areas resulting in low aquatic difficulty levels in most canyoning routes, conditions can vary significantly depending on the precipitation.
Azores Canyoning Guidebook
The Azores Tourism Association edited in 2014 the book “Along water trails… in the Azores – Canyoning Guidebook”, by Francisco Silva, Maria do Céu Almeida and Paulo Pacheco, based on a long work of information gathering and potential canyoning routes equipping, along a Desnível Association project design from scratch.
This guidebook (230 pages, available in Portuguese and in English) gathers essential information about all the equipped routes in the Azores Archipelago, encompassing general and technical information about each route, including the essential logistics for each descent and the representation of the routes tops. The guidebook is available in: http://desnivel.pt/canyoning/canyoning-portugal/canyoning-acores.
It is also available a topographic map (scale 1/25.000) indicating points of entry and exit of each canyoning route.