Rafting down the Nive: emotions and adrenaline!

Bidarray
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Rafting down the Nive ...
Renowned for surfing and water sports, the Basque Country is also a privileged adventure playground for white water sports . In this landlocked country of wild beauty, rivers abound, the forest reigns in majesty and the call of nature has forged a sporting spirit among all lovers of the great outdoors . Barely an hour from the Atlantic coast and Biarritz, go to Bidarray for a descent of the Nive with the Ur Bizia Rafting team . Sensations guaranteed!

The Nive

The Nive crosses picturesque villages of the Basque Country

Rafting on the Nive

A paradise for whitewater sports enthusiasts

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The Nive, wild by nature

In the heart of Basque lands, Bidarray, crossed by the Nive (Errobi in Basque), is an ideal destination for adventurers who wish to live a rafting experience rich in actions. This tumultuous river takes its source at the foot of the MendiZar beyond the Spanish border before ending its course in the Adour in Bayonne, after having crossed the valleys and fertile meadows of the Labourd. Navigable all year round with medium difficulty, this class II river, with class III passages, is very popular with canoe, kayak, hydrospeed and rafting enthusiasts (clubs and individual paddlers). And yes, there are what are known as “river classes ”, a classification which defines the level of difficulty of rivers from 1 to 6. Moderately turbulent, the Nive presents an average difficulty, with passages of rapids that alternate with quieter passages, conducive to contemplation. Due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, the water temperature is never very cold unlike the rivers of the first nearby Pyrenean peaks, an advantage that makes it particularly accessible to families, children and seniors .


Rafting: invigorating adventure, family discovery or fun with friends

In Bidarray, several bases offer to discover this magnificent river by rafting, in perfect safety and under the guidance of licensed guides. Initiated in the 90s by a kayaking enthusiast and various whitewater sports enthusiasts, this activity quickly developed to the point of making Bidarray the headquarters of rafting in the Basque Country. Our choice is based on Ur Bizia , the first whitewater sports school in Bidarray, founded in 1981 by Lionel Rossignol, the precursor of this activity in the region. Located on the D918 which runs along the Nive, the school has a large car park and a reception structure adapted to visitors (reception, toilets, cloakroom for depositing car keys and ... the best of the best, hot showers !).

Ur Bizia

The base of Ur Bizia Rafting

Rafting on the Nive Rafting on the Nive

Equipped and ready for adventure!

When we arrive, we are warmly welcomed by Jackie, Lionel's wife and their son Nicolas who work together to ensure the smooth running of this family business. In a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, we are invited to put on the necessary paraphernalia adapted to the size of each. All equipment is provided on site: life jacket, reinforced neoprene suit, helmet. Just plan to come with a swimsuit and a pair of trainers. In order to maneuver the inflatable boat, we are also equipped with one paddle per team member. Ur Bizia offers a variety of boats according to everyone's wishes: rafts (5 to 8 people on board), mini-rafts (3 to 5 people) or canoe kayak (2 people). With my three friends, we opt for the mini-raft, fun and manageable for a tonic adventure! The advantage of these canoes is to be able to slip through everywhere, to be flexible and above all unsinkable. We integrate a group of about twenty people, all ages. Indeed, rafting is a sport accessible to all (from 5 years old) on condition of knowing how to swim. Ready, the entire crew gets on the mini-bus to go up the Nive to the rafts launching point a few kilometers upstream from the river.

Rafting on the Nive Rafting on the Nive


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A route alternating fast and moments of relaxation

Direction the embarkation site where Lionel provides the crews with all the navigation instructions . A priori, everything looks simple: those seated in front paddled to advance, those seated behind ensure the maneuvers. With all these recommendations, it's time for the 5 km long descent. First paddle strokes to get started. The Nive is revealed from a new angle, the site is grandiose ! We discover the art and the way of leading a mini-raft, under the watchful eye of Lionel. Punctuated by rapids, the Nive offers a stirring course. In places, the bed of the river tightens, the current is stronger, we quickly realize that the descent of the Nive is not a long quiet river. In the heat of the action in full rapidity, the maneuver of our boat depends on the full-scale psychomotor test and the good synchronization of the crew. A good dose of adrenaline and a lot of fun awaits us!

Rafting on the Nive


Rafting on the Nive

Rafting on the Nive

Rafting on the Nive

The descent of 1h30 will be punctuated by several ideal stops for a few refreshing breaststrokes and a few rock jumps . The experience is thrilling and takes place in a friendly and stimulating atmosphere. Only 50 minutes by car from Bayonne, Anglet, Biarritz and 15 minutes from Saint Jean Pied de Port and Saint Etienne de Baigorry, you can hardly find better to have fun while discovering the authentic beauty of the Basque landscapes at will. waves of a wild river !

Rafting on the Nive

Rafting on the Nive


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Photos and Article prepared by Lesley Williamson for the Guide du Pays Basque


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