I’m not quite sure how to translate Barranquismo, it’s not abseiling or canyoning due to the lack of flowing water, barranquismo is descending down barrancos with harness and ropes in Lanzarote.
Nacho is a local Spanish guide who has a range of outdoor activities based around the island of Lanzarote, his company is called Senderismo Lanzarote. I’ve wanted to join in with some of his activities for some time and have now found a willing companion to share the experience with me.
I went along to a beginner’s level barranquismo day at the weekend, I was given the instructions to wear comfortable clothes, bring a bottle of water and a small rucksack to join the group on the last bend off the road to Famara for 9am. Sue had been before and said to also bring a pair of gloves and wear long trousers so that I could grip the rope and protect my legs if I caught a rock.
We met Nacho who gave us each a harness and hard hat to carry and we set off up the track towards the Risco de Famara. At the signpost for Morro Alto we turned off the track to walk up the hill. Nacho has an enthusiastic passion for the island which is one of the reasons that you need to have an understanding of Spanish to go on one of his activities, during each trip he explains the flora, wildlife and history of the surroundings.
We were walking to the left of a barranco, our path took us up high up into the risco. The hillsides were covered in flora, the air was pungent with wild lavender and oregano. This activity isn’t for anyone without a head for heights or balance, the track we were following was more suited to those of a four legged variety and at times we were holding on by our fingertips whilst we shuffled along edges of the ravine, although I never once felt I was in any danger.
We had walked for around 2 hours when we reached a point and stopped for a picnic. Nacho produced a flask of hot coffee and a selection of bocadillos whilst we enjoyed the view. Next, it was time to step into our harnesses, put on our headgear and begin our descent down the barranco. At this point, the heavens opened and huge fat raindrops started falling, enough to soak through our jumpers, unfortunately I had left my anorak in the car as it had been such a beautiful morning. Luckily the rain didn’t last long, just enough to make the bed of the barranco muddy which stuck to our shoes making for a slippery passage rather than a canyoning experience.
The ropes were secured, José Antonio and Nacho explained how to attach ourselves to the ropes with our figure of 8, they also had a safety line attached to us and it was time to go over the top. Shouting encouragement such as abra las piernas, cuerpo de atras, muy bien and perfecto we all made it down the first section. One of the descents was quite tricky, there were two charcos where water had collected at the bottom of the rock ledge and it took some negotiating to get around, unfortunately Vicky one of the group lost her balance and fell in, much to our amusement. There was another funny moment from Nacho too which was captured on video!
We had all successfully completed four rope descents, it was time to walk back to the cars. Again Nacho was well prepared, offering cold drinks whilst we reflected what a great day it had been before heading home.