Rafting is undoubtedly the most popular outdoor sport on our rivers. Thousands of people come every year to discover white-water rafting, which only a few know like the back of their hand. Among outdoor sports activities, rafting is the most popular in Spain. It is one of the most popular sporting activities in Spain because of its geography. Thanks to the country’s wealth of rivers, adventure lovers can enjoy all kinds of white-water rafting, and the Noguera Pallaresa is a popular destination for groups of families and friends. This is why every year the adventure sports centres welcome thousands of people who come to the rivers to enjoy the experience.
Faced with an ever-increasing demand, both from national and foreign visitors, the need for instructors and monitors for these activities is very great. These people are the most knowledgeable about the terrain and their work is necessary for the correct development of outdoor sports in the natural environment.
One of them is Paton Gallego, head of guides at RocRoi, one of the leading companies in southern Europe in the organisation of outdoor sports experiences. Before arriving at the Llavorsí-Pirineus base every morning, he has to prepare all the necessary equipment to be able to carry out the activities. “Then you have to load all the material, check that all the rafting equipment is well inflated and can be stepped on and check that the safety equipment is in perfect condition,” says the instructor.
What is a rafting descent in Noguera Pallaresa like?
Before starting the expedition comes the process of technical and safety training. The instructors must create equal and compensated groups according to the level observed in the people in the first contact with the river and each one of them is in charge of one of them. In terms of materials, they are provided with neoprene, a wetsuit, a semi-dry jacket, they are given waistcoats, a helmet and “they are given a good explanation of the descent, the rowing technique and safety aspects”, he assures.
“We tell them how to sit down, how to put their foot down, how to hold the paddle and how to paddle. We also point out the bathing areas and the safety position in rafting,” adds Patón. In fact, one of the most important points in this discipline is to understand how to position yourself in the raft and what to do to return to the boat if you fall into the water. The rafting process consists of following the line of the river’s path, with one rafter always opening the group and others closing it to control where the clients are at all times. “The good thing about this river is that it is very noble, there is no point of extreme difficulty, there is only a stretch where there are more rapids that have to be done in a cleaner way”. In fact, the ease of controlling the boat and the fact that it is suitable for both novices and experienced rafters make the Noguera Pallaresa one of the most popular rivers in Europe for rafting.
Customers are varied and has at his disposal different routes adapted to his level, age or physical condition. It is possible to do descents of just a few kilometres for beginners or long excursions of up to 52 kilometres over a whole day with several stops for lunch and rest.
“The commercial part is about 14 kilometres from Llavorsí to Rialp; the first five kilometres are a very easy section in which you only go down one rapid, which is the Washing Machine, designed for any type of client,” explains the guide. The easiest section is for schools or families with small children. Then there is a longer section of about 8 kilometres for young people or older courses and, finally, there is the possibility of doing the whole section for adults or people with more experience.
Among the different sectors of the river where the activity is offered are those that go from Llavorsí to Rialp (14 km), to Moleta (5 km), to Montardit (20 km), to Sort (16 km), to Gulleri (8 km) and to Collegats with lunch included (52 km), as well as the one that goes from Arboló to Collegats (14 km). Some of these routes offer additional services of traditional gastronomy of the area in a “Pallaresan borda”.