Among all the Italian regions, Sicily is undoubtedly the most beautiful. This sunny island right at the center of the Mediterranean sea has incredible biodiversity and rich historical heritage.
For many decades travelers from all over the world have chosen Sicily to visit the amazing Greek Temples of Agrigento, the Arab architecture of Palermo, to explore Mount Etna, the most active volcano in Europe, and to relax on Sicily’s sandy beaches.
But in the last five years, the Alcantara Gorge, a stunning volcanic Canyon on the east coast, is attracting a new type of travelers looking for a more adventurous and active holiday. The Alcantara river that flows at the feet of the north flank of Mount Etna has become Italy’s best location where to enjoy river trekking and Body rafting excursions surrounded the lush Mediterranean countryside.
The Alcantara Gorges and Mount Etna.
Mount Etna tours and excursions to the Alcantaragorge are among the best sellers of many tour operators of the Sicilian east coast. Mount Etna is among the most active volcanoes in the world. Hundreds of thousands of people arrive every summer in Sicily to reach the summit and experience the thrill of walking around the smoking active craters and watching the explosions that light up the night sky.
Until five years ago, the Alcantara Gorge tours were just a visit to the river, a swim, and a very brief walk inside a small portion of the Alcantara Canyon. Nowadays, thanks to some new tour operators specialized in outdoor activities, the canyon of the Alcantara can be explored through body rafting tours that reach the most spectacular and wild part of the Canyon.
The Canyon of the Alcantara.
The botanical park of the Alcantara Gorge and the river are Italy’s Natural and geological marvels. This volcanic Canyon formed roughly ten thousand years ago when a massive eruption from Mount Etna’s lower flanks started filling up a preexisting Valley.
When the hot lava encountered the Alcantar river’s cold water, it underwent a sudden cooling, shaping the molten lava into some amazing shapes. Every year thousands of visitors visit the Alcantara Gorge to marvel at the 50 meters high black walls plunging inside the emerald waters of the Alcantara River. Still, not everybody gets to see the wonderful part of the canyon that can be reached just through a body rafting adventure.
Body rafting excursion
The first time I heard about Body Rafting was during my holiday in Sicily five years ago, and even though the words Body and Rafting clearly define what the activity is about, I could not fully understand how somebody would use his body to navigate a river turbulent waters and rapids and coming out in one piece.
When I reached the headquarter of the tour operator “Alcantara Body rafting,” Ivano helped me to squeeze inside a thick scuba diving wetsuit; he gave me proper river shoes, a helmet, and a life jacket. After a quick but clear briefing, we moved towards the river banks. Our river adventure began with an upstream river trekking; we climbed over rocks to overcame some rapids. We swam against the current.
We even dive from some higher rocks into the cold cristal water of the Alcantara River. After one hour, we reached the beautiful pool of Venus and the waterfall; as we rested for ten minutes, I realized how beautiful this volcanic canyon is.
The fun and adrenaline part of the excursion is on the way back when the body is used as a raft to slide along the rapids of the river all the way back to the starting point. I loved the experience; I loved this Sicilian canyon’s beauty before flying back to the U.K. I decided to go one more time to the Alcantara Gorges, but this time just to chill out by the river banks and enjoy nature’s tranquility.
Where to stay
The most obvious solution would be to stay in one of the many pretty mountain villages close to the Alcantara Gorge. For those of you that love places far from the crowd and are curious to see what it is like to live in a small rural Sicilian town, I suggest staying in the village of Motta Camastra. Do not expect any nightlife of a choice of restaurant. There is just one bar and one place where to eat. Personally, I stayed in the beautiful town of Taormina, twenty-five kilometers away from the Alcantara Gorge. Taormina is by the sea; it houses the marine park of Isola Bella and the nightlife is lively.