Alcantara gorges

The Alcantara Gorges in Sicily

The Alcantara Gorges are located in the Alcantara Valley, between the Towns of Castiglione di Sicilia and Motta Camastra, at the point where the Peloritani mountain range ends (between the provinces of Catania and Messina). It is a territory of 1928 hectares with gorges up to 25 meters high and two to five meters wide. 

The cooling of the lava in the river water has carved rocks of beautiful shapes.

The Gorges are believed to date back to the magma flows of the last 8,000 years.

To protect this incredible area in the 1960s the Alcantara Botanical and Geological Park was founded, which extends into the Alcantara River Park. 

In the area of Motta Camastra, precisely in Fondaco Motta, is where you will find the most impressive and famous gorge of the Alcantara, more than 6 km long and easily passable for the first 3 kilometers. At the beginning of the gorges there is a small beach accessible only at the beginning of summer, before the water becomes too high. 

The Path of the Gorges runs along the left bank of the river and passes through citrus groves and panoramic points. River trekking and body rafting (only in warmer seasons) are the most adventurous ways to explore the Alcantara Gorges.

The path crosses the interesting points of the Alcantara valley, there are numerous detours that you can take from the main road that will allow you to customize the routes, choosing different sections to cross. 

It starts from the Mitogio Bridge along the river, from here you can follow the path that goes up to Mount Miramare or along the Gorges of Larderia. 

See also: 17 Best Places to see in Catania

What to do: 

There are many activities you can do in the Alcantara Valley, listed below are some of the things that you can do.

Canyoneering the Alcantara River

Arriving at the Alcantara Gorges Center you will be given all the necessary equipment (wetsuit, helmet and jacket) by your tour guide. 

You definitely need a wetsuit as the water is freezing cold.

After you will walk to the starting point and you will start the descent into the canyon, where in some parts you will use ropes as a support. Do not worry you will always be in total safety thanks to the assistance of authorized and highly professional guides.

Hydrospeed

Ever heard of Hidrospeed? Many do not know this sport, but it is a lot of fun! The hydrospeed is a floating bob that will allow you without any effort to navigate the river and enjoy the view of the gorges. The guide will provide you with all the necessary equipment, you just have to think about relaxing and being dragged by the water!

Body Rafting

You will be going upstream against the river to admire and touch the wonderful rocks shaped over centuries by the water with the assistance of river rescuers. 

The return is made by letting yourself be transported by the waters of the river among lava rocks, rapids and waterfalls. You will be supplied with: wetsuit, boots, jackets and protective helmets. 

River Trekking

The visit of the Botanical and Geological Park continues through the path that allows you to visit the inside of the Gorges, the itinerary is carried out in groups with river assistants. 

With the overalls provided, you go down a stretch of valley to then go up the river between lava rocks of the Etna volcano and waterfalls. 

Not suitable for children under 12 years. This tour lasted for about 1 hour. 

Bike Tour

You can also visit the Botanical and Geological Park Alcantara Gorges by hiring a bike. 

How to get there by Car

From Messina take the SS n.114 (which goes as far as Catania ), divert at Giardini Naxos towards the SS n.185, direction Francavilla di Sicilia and after twelve kilometers you reach the Alcantara Gorges. 

Via Motorway from Messina: take the A18 motorway towards Catania and exit at Giardini Naxos. 

From Catania: take the A18 motorway towards Messina and exit at Giardini Naxos. After exiting the motorway continue for twelve kilometers in the direction of Francavilla di Sicilia. 

Another route coming from the Bronte-Randazzo is to go to Castiglione di Sicilia and from there continue towards Naxos.

How to get there by Train and Coach

If you choose the train instead can use the Circumetnea line with the Catania-Randazzo and Giarre-Riposto routes towards Randazzo, or reach Naxos from Messina or Catania and continue with a coach of one of the local bus companies, such as the SAIS, the Etna Trasporti or the AST which are another valid alternative to the car or the train.

Prices and Schedules

You have different ways to enter the Alcantara Gorges: either through the municipal stairway or through the private entrance to the Botanical and Geological park.

The private entrance to the Botanic Park will allow you to use the elevator (at a cost of 8 euros) or to access trails overlooking the gorges and the botanical park at a cost of around 13 euros.

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