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From Munich ’72 to Llavorsí: a journey through the secrets of rafting history

Surely you know rafting. You have practiced it or you want to practice it. However, have you ever wondered how the custom of launching a boat down the river and navigate dodging rocks in rough waters arises? Among outdoor sports activities, <strong>rafting</strong> is the most popular in Spain. It is one of the sporting practices that has more possibilities in the country because of its geography. Thanks to the fluvial richness of the territory, lovers of adventure sports can enjoy this type of <a title=”White-water rafting Pyrenees, Catalonia” href=””>whitewater descents,</a> and the Noguera Pallaresa is the jewel in the crown to practice this specialty.

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<strong>The origins of rafting</strong>

In fact, in the Noguera Pallaresa, the tradition dates back to the early twentieth century. At that time, the river was frequented by dozens of raids, a river transport of wood that served to transport material downstream. It was a practice carried out by local lumberjacks to transport wood from the Pyrenean forests to southern Catalonia. With the construction of the dams, this practice was doomed to disappear.

This primitive practice of rafting has not been forgotten in the Catalan Pyrenees since more than 40 years ago a rafting trip down the Noguera Pallaresa. With wooden boats similar to those of more than 100 years ago and the same clothing as in the past, you can take a trip back in time and remember the old loggers of the Catalan Pyrenees heading south to make their deliveries.

In this way, the Noguera Pallaresa shows us through its history how rivers have gone from being a channel for the transfer of all kinds of goods or materials to become the <strong>space for recreation, sports</strong> and generation of experiences that they are today.

<strong>River rafting, Olympic sport at Munich 1972</strong>

Rafting comes from the English word raft, which means raft. The origins of this sport go back to the 50’s when the war boats from the Second World War were used for recreational purposes in river rafting. With the development of better materials, the boats were adapted to the sport of rafting.

After making a name for itself around the world, rafting began to establish itself as a recreational activity in countries such as the United States and southern and central Europe. In the French Alps is where the practice of this discipline achieved the greatest success. This is how it ended up reaching our rivers in the Catalan Pyrenees in the early 80s.

A group of French people saw the potential offered by this territory for the development of this activity and introduced rafting in Spain for the first time, decades after the raids had stopped descending the Noguera Pallaressa<a title=”Llavorsí Outdoor Activity Centre” href=””>. Llavorsí was one of the first places </a>where the discipline became strong and where the first adventure sports centres in the whole peninsula were opened. Among them <strong>RocRoi</strong>, one of the leading companies in southern Europe in the organisation of outdoor sports experiences.

Thus, rafting became one of the <a title=”Descent rafting Llavorsí” href=””>star activities of Llavorsí</a> and what today popularizes the area and shows it as one of the references of outdoor sports throughout the peninsula. In addition, whether you are a novice or have experience in <strong>whitewater sports</strong>, you can enjoy everything the Noguera Pallaresa offers and makes it one of the preferred rivers in Europe for the practice of rafting.

<strong>Rafting, a growing trend today</strong>

After Llavorsí, the practice of this specialty was extended to other rivers with less tradition but that offered great possibilities for rafting. The consolidation of this sport as a recreational activity in constant boom, has allowed the creation of leisure centers in various parts of the peninsula. Among them, we also have the <a title=”Outdoor adventure activity centre in Zaragoza” href=””>nautical base of Murillo de Gállego</a>, RocRoi’s new center. Located in the Kingdom of the Mallos, in the Aragonese Pre-Pyrenees, the Gállego river itself is another favorite river destination for rafting lovers. Both centers are among the most popular in Spain and with the greatest tradition. Not in vain, every day the rivers are filled with hundreds of boats that make different routes along the river.

Rafting has not only developed at a recreational level, but has also evolved as a sporting discipline integrated in the <strong>Spanish Canoeing Federation</strong>. In recent years the federated practice of this specialty and the rest that are included in the federative body, has skyrocketed. The pandemic has meant a before and after for outdoor sports, and rafting has not been less. Thus, since 2019, the number of federation cards has doubled to the current 17,000.