The Galicia of the thousand rivers is actually that of the ten thousand, since they are the ones it has, rounding up. Here is plenty of water… Most of them are not navigable, due to the low flow, but there we have the Miño towards its mouth, the reservoirs, so fashionable in the middle of the 20th century, and the lower courses of the largest rivers to enjoy unforgettable walks through the veins of the Galician landscape.
The best known river routes are those of the Ribeira Sacra, which has four reservoirs and as many piers. The Sil Canyon Route starts from Ponte do Sil (in Marcelle, Monforte de Lemos). It is a two-hour journey that runs through the Santo Estevo reservoir, passing through Monforte, Sober, Castro Caldelas, A Teixeira and Parada de Sil. The vertigo that is felt from the top of the viewpoints seems to be felt in reverse, in an exciting landscape. The excursions are guided and can be done by catamaran or monohull, with fewer seats.
O Cabo do Mundo Route starts from Belesar (O Saviñao). Here, in the Miño canyon, the slopes are more discreet and the route more winding, so it has another attraction. The catamaran takes us through the Os Peares reservoir, passing through the municipalities of O Saviñao, Pantón and Chantada.
In addition to these two routes, organized by the Lugo Provincial Council, in the Ribeira Sacra there are others offered by private travel or sustainable tourism companies, which offer more personalized services, combined with walks, picnic lunches, visits to wineries, tastings on board … Excursions are mainly by catamaran, zodiac and hybrid boats.
The Miño bathes another wine region: O Ribeiro, in the province of Ourense. We can take advantage and do the O Ribeiro Eco-boat Route. The ride is on board a small boat that is one hundred percent electric and one hundred percent Galician: a “xouva”. It has few seats and makes oenological walks through the Laias and the Arnoia. There are more and more hybrid or electric boats to make the minimum environmental impact and that the rivers do not end up stressed.
There is a very special route, fresh and salt water. It is the Jacobean Route of the sea of Arousa and the river Ulla. Also known as “traslatio”, since it is made in memory of the route traveled by the Apostle’s boat until it reached Iria Flavia (Padrón). It leaves from several points of the Arousa estuary. In the Ulla section, we pass through Bamio, Catoira, with the remains of the Torres del Oeste, Valga and Dodro. On the banks of the river, twelve cruises follow one another, part of the maritime-fluvial via crucis (the only one of its kind) of the journey. The route ends at the port of Padrón or Pontecesures.
A Raia is a good area to navigate, since here the Miño is well loaded with water. Recently, the routes of the Río Miño, a navigable destination have began, a great way to cross international waters and get to know the cities on both shores. We can choose between four catamaran excursions, of different lengths and routes, with a guide and travel by tourist train or by bus to complete the visit on land. It is organized by the Eurocities Tui-Valença and Salvaterra de Miño-Monção. By the way, important fact to keep in mind: the activity is totally free.
The rivers are also a training ground for athletes or simply for people looking for adventure or what they call active tourism. In Galicia there is a long tradition of canoeing, we may remember David Cal, both in estuary and river. It is evident every year with the celebration of the International Descent of the Miño, a canoeing competition for federated athletes between Salvaterra and the Tui international bridge. Its amateur version, without competition and shorter, is the Popular Descent of the Miño, which is already a festival of national interest. In addition to the descent of the Miño, there are several routes between Salvaterra and Tui to kayak, such as the descent of A Canuda or O Cunquedo. In summer night descents are also organized.
And there are kayaks beyond the Miño. In As Fragas do Eume you can do several types of routes from Monfero or Pontedeume: guided, unguided, combined with other activities… One of the most romantic, the sunset in the fragas.
In As Mariñas da Coruña e Terras do Mandeo there are also several routes that leave from different points (Betanzos, O Pedrido, Miño) and from the estuary and the marshes they go through the Mandeo, getting into the Lamba river and going up Os Caneiros.
There is a boat similar to the kayak but taller and wider, and that does not allow as much water to enter: the Canadian canoe. It is also used in this type of excursion, for example, on the Tambre River, from A Pesquería to the Noia and Muros estuary.
And what if we want to go faster, helmet and all? Well, the best thing for that is to get into the white waters and go rafting. The best time is autumn, winter and spring, when the rivers are stronger. We can try the rapids of Arbo, the Miño, or the descents of the Lérez or Deza, for example.
Now it is also fashionable to walk on the water, another type of water tourism, on a paddleboard or, the paddleboard pedal surf variant, which can be seen in circulation in the waters of the Verdugo river, for example, between Sampaio bridge, in Arcade, and Comboa bridge, in Soutomaior.