By David Croft - Regional Sales Manager, South – Avalon Waterways
Day 5 of the Active & Discovery (A&D) on the Rhone - Kayaking on the Gorges de L'Ardeche
As the name suggests the Avalon Active & Discovery cruises are more designed to get you out there, with adventurous excursions designed to get the blood pumping, this was exhibited no better than when we docked in Viviers, France on Day 5 and taken by executive coach to the Gorges de L'Ardeche.
Known as 'Europes Grand Canyon' the Gorges de L'Ardeche provided a phenomenal backdrop to a day of high intensity but also a lot of fun - you didn’t know whether to look where you were going, or admire the scenery all around you - I think I managed to find the balance just right.
It all begins with a jovial but critical safety briefing from our very experienced guides, English ex-pats that have been in France over 20 years (The lead instructor was from Carlisle and the accent really came out when he talked to UK guests!). Then it’s time to don the life jackets, push your kayak in the water and begin! We were navigating class 2 rapids - more than enough for me thank you!
On a sweltering day in what had been a boiling week, it was a relief to be so close to the water and enjoy some cooler temperatures, and of course the obligatory (un)intentional splash of your partner in the kayak pretending it was an accident!
It was an afternoon that was a perfect mix of challenging kayaking and safely stopping to keep the group together and hear some interesting information about this fantastic piece of natural architecture that brings people from all over the world to see it. We went from serene waters to rolling rapids but you always felt in control and in safe hands. This is very River Cruising - everything under control so you can get on with the job of enjoying! Our 2 hour epic adventure culminated at the Pont d'arc - a mammoth natural arch carved into limestone, created over thousands of years of erosion - a real feat to admire and a perfect end to a wonderful afternoon.
It was a day to remember - the scenery was phenomenal and the kayaking very rewarding, you certainly felt as though you’d earned your 4 course dinner that night! One thing to really note was of all the excursions that week, it cultivated a real camaraderie between guests - the main reason being as you constantly apologised for bumping into each other! (I guess it wasn’t just me that was more admiring than paddling!) but you certainly left with more friends than you’d begun, and that really is the essence of river cruising - smaller & more intimate with like-minded people to share the adventure - a perfect day!