What is Canyoning?
Canyoning is essentially making an approach (hike) to a river and then making your way down river. It involves jumping into river pools, some of which can be fast flowing. It also involves rappelling, scrambling and rock hopping.
Like any sport, there are varying difficulty levels for this activity. Some of CoolBlue’s higher graded River Exploration options, will incorporate Canyoning skills/techniques.
What is Coasteering?
Coasteering is a relatively new adventure sport; it is a ‘spin off’ of Canyoning. The activity started in the British Isles, where early enthusiasts used it as a way to explore uncharted areas of the coastlines.
It essentially encompasses movement along the inter-tidal zone of a coastline on foot or by swimming. It can also combine cliff-jumping into the ocean, rappelling and rock climbing. The activity is done without the aid of boats, surf boards or other craft.
What are the Difficulty Grades?
The guidelines below serve to provide a general idea on what to expect from your choice of activity. Please keep in mind that Hiking/River Explorations/Coasteering times and distances are strongly affected by the steepness of terrain and elevation change i.e. a 10km/6.2mi easy hike may take 3 hours along a fairly flat route but a 10km/6.2mi moderate hike up and downhill over steeper terrain may take 5-6 hours. If in doubt, please consider both time and distance or contact us directly for further clarification.
Grade 1 - Easy
These are relaxed activity routes, suitable for persons with average levels of fitness and who are generally in good health. These activities are typically on established trails (including ‘jeep’ roads) and/or easy to navigate waterways. For land based activities, gradients tend to be gentle, to slightly sloping uphill and downhill sections. No great level of outdoor experience is required and activities are suitable for novices and diverse age groups.
As it pertains to River Explorations and Coasteering expeditions, there will be minimum rope work (if any) to navigate through gorges and waterfalls, this requires basic technical skills. For Coasteering expeditions, the coastline would be calm with ample berm for easy navigation.
Activity time is limited to 3-5 hours (maximum 12km/7.5mi); for kayaking, up to 2 hrs. (10km/6mi).
Grade2 - Easy to Moderate
These activities are mostly easy, but may include longer moderate hikes and river approaches. There may typically be steeper gradients and higher elevations for ascents and descents. Generally routes will be well maintained but may involve some mixed/slightly rougher terrain (including waterways) and steep/exposed sections.
River Explorations and Coasteering activities would likely involve rope work, traversing through gorges, scrambling and rock hopping. Gorge drop offs can be in excess of 6m/20ft
Activities can take on average 4-6 hours (up to 15 km/9mi); for kayaking up to 3 hours (up to 15km/9mi).
Grade 3 - Moderate
Suitable for more regularly active persons who are generally fit. Hikes/river approaches would have longer routes with steeper accents and descents. It will likely include longer stretches of uphill climbs and descents or a number of shorter steeper uphill and downhill sections along routes. Terrain may be mixed, including rocky areas with mixed surfaces underfoot. For our River Explorations, elements of Canyoning will be incorporated, with waterfall / gorge drop offs in excess of 6m/20ft.
Activities can take on average 5-7 hours (up to 20km/12mi); for kayaking, 3-4 hours (up to 20km/12mi).
Grade 4 - Moderate To Strenuous
Suitable for very active persons with a good level of fitness, looking for more demanding and challenging activities. Moderate to strenuous itineraries involve extended steep ascents and descents along routes. This could also include high mountain terrain which is rugged and rough underfoot with sections of scrambling and rock hopping. River Explorations can include tight steep gorges and would involve rappels in excess of 18m/60ft and other elements of Canyoning.
Activities can take on average 6-9 hours (up to 30 km/19mi).
Grade 5 - Strenuous
For very experienced persons with a high level of fitness. Navigation skills may also be required. Strenuous itineraries include steep ascents and descents over rough and varied terrain in mountainous regions and may include some exposed areas. Technical scrambling, rappelling (18+m/60+ft), rock/cliff traversing and rock hopping skills will be required.
Activities can take on average 8-14 hours (30+ km/19+mi).
River Flash Floods
This can be brought on by heavy rains, especially if doing an expedition during our Rainy season (June-November); it can involve heavy debris being moved downriver.
If heavy rains are forecasted, our river based activities will be postponed or refunded.
River Mouth Crossings
A river mouth is the place where a river enters a lake, larger river or the ocean. Our Hikes, River Explorations, Coasteering and Kayaking tours can include river mouth crossings. Depending on the volume of water or tidal activity, during a river mouth crossing, you can experience a fairly strong flow of water.
With CoolBlue Adventures, the donning of life jackets for such crossings will be mandatory. In some circumstances, anchored ropes will be used to assist the touring party with crossings.
Trinidad is home to four species are venomous snakes: two Coral Snake species (common and large); Mapepire Balsain (Fer-de-lance) and the Mapepire Zanana (South American Bushmaster). Although not common, there is a chance these creatures may be encountered on the trails.
No venomous snakes inhabit Tobago.
Treatment for a snake bite
Calm and reassure the victim; don’t panic.
Remove all rings, bracelets, or other constricting items.
Immobilize the bitten area as much as circumstances allow.
Keep the bitten area above heart level. (This is a newly accepted medical concept)
Take victim to medical facility as quickly as possible.
The Ministry of Health imports both Coral Snake and Mapepire antivenom and makes it available to the public at all major government hospitals in Trinidad. In the unlikely event that a snake bite incident should occur, transportation (until intercepted by an Ambulance or other medical emergency vehicle) to the closest treatment centre will be provided by Coolblue Adventures.
N.B. The most experienced and capable hospital in Trinidad, which has a supply of both Mapepire and Coral Snake antivenoms is the Sangre Grande Hospital.
Mapepire Balsain (Fer-de-lance), up t0 2.5M
Mapepire Zanana (Bushmaster), up to 3.5M)
Common Coral Snake (approx 0.5M)
Large Coral Snake (approx 1M)
CoolBlule Adventures does its best to keep activity routes clear of any hazardous plants. Notwithstanding this, there can still be the unlikely occurrence of contact with one of these plants. There are a couple plants in particular which may cause discomfort if encountered on a trail. They are highlighted below.
Common Nettle or ‘Stinging Nettle’
These plants have many hollow stinging hairs on the leaves and stems which act like hypodermic needles. If contact is made, they will inject histamine and other chemicals that produce a stinging sensation.
Relief from a Nettle Sting
The CoolBlue team will have anti-itch cream containing antihistamines or hydrocortisone. Application of this cream will provide relief from a nettle sting. Even if not applied, the stinging sensation will usually subside on its own after a few minutes.
If the rash or stinging sensation doesn’t disappear within 24 hours or it appears to be infected after this time, you may be having a severe allergic reaction. In such a case you would need to seek medical attention.
Gru-gru bef or Banga
This is a species of palm native to tropical regions of the Americas. It grows to 15-20 m/50-65ft tall, with a trunk up to 50cm/20" diameter. Jotting out from the trunk and leaves of this palm has viciously sharp spines (up to 10cm/4").
In the unlikely event that contact is made with these spines, first aid will be administered by the CoolBlue Adventures team.