EXPEDITION SKILLS WEEK GALICIA, RIAS ALTAS


FACTS

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++ A really enjoyable, unforgettable week, full of sea kayak camping, foraging and fishing ++
++ Besides learning everything you need to know about surviving in a marine environment, you’ll also learn loads of invaluable skills, such as how to make fire, build shelter, choose a camp location, manage a camp, and everything to do with wildlife & ecology, packing, food-hygiene and planning trips ++
++ Learn from the best: This course will be led by English ISKGA coach and survival expert Lee John Waters ++
++ An officially endorsed ISKGA course and generic module of the ISKGA guide training framework (“Expedition Skills”) ++
++ The best way to prepare yourself for pretty much any adventure you could conceive of… ++
++ Course Language: English ++

COST: CHF 1330
Excl. boat rental*, travel to and from the destination, accommodation and food.

*You can rent a kayak from us for CHF 150/week.

Surcharge if fewer than 3 people attend: CHF 200


OUR SERVICES:

Six paddle-days

11.–16.09.2022*
Start & end: Viveiro, ES

*The 10.09. and 17.09. are self-organised travel days that are not part of our services.

++ BOOK NOW ++

DETAILS

    • Intro
      Sea kayaking is so much more than just a “sport”; more than just a physical activity which happens to take place out on the water. Sea kayaking is pure adventure, a complete immersion in nature and the perennial striving for a deeper understanding of things – out on the water as well as on dry land.

      This course, which is incorporated into a six-day sea kayaking tour along the marvelous North coast of Galicia, is not about paddling technique, rescues, or safety on the water. It’s actually about everything else – those things that make our hobby so unique. This is where you will learn what you need in order to prepare for your future sea kayaking expeditions and adventures: camp skills like building shelters, fire techniques, survival skills – all of which will be carefully adjusted to marine environments and – perhaps most exciting of all – gathering, fishing, and setting fish traps. We will in fact be spending much of the week gathering fantastic food to the rhythm set by the tide, gaining a deeper insight into the fascinating world of the edible plants which grow along the shoreline and under the sea. So, this is the ideal course for all adventurers, camping and bivouacking freaks, lovers of nature and wilderness, hunters and gatherers, fish and seafood junkies, and all those amongst you who have never stopped being curious!

      It doesn’t matter what knowledge you already have: whether you normally start your fire with a gas stove or a bow drill, this week will provide a unique opportunity for us to immerse ourselves in the subject matter, as we have managed to get hold of an absolute master of all things related to wilderness, survival and expedition skills: top British coach Lee John Waters, freelance trainer for the International Sea Kayak Guide Association (ISKGA) and long-time instructor for the Royal Marines.

      New 2022: We have integrated our course content into a first-class, six-day sea kayak tour in one of the most beautiful and exciting sea kayak areas in Europe: In the Rias Altas, in the remote north of Galicia. The highlights of this tour are the two striking capes Estaca de Bares and Cabo Ortegal, which protrude far out into the sea – making their lighthouses visible from afar. The first of the two, Estaca de Bares, forms the northernmost point of Spain and is the most critical point of our tour: we have to paddle around this rocky and rugged headland to get from the Ria d'O Barqueiro to the large Ria de Ortigueira. From here, looking to the northwest over the open sea, it is almost exactly 3000 km to the southern tip of Greenland - without any land in between. Anyone who has some experience in sea kayaking knows: Paddling around such an exposed point is only possible in good conditions - especially since there are no landing opportunities on the west side of the cape for a little over five kilometers.

      The second big cape of our tour will practically mark the end point of our trip, because west of Cabo Ortegal begins a 26 km long, very exposed cliff section without beaches – far too exposed for us. Hence the famous sawtooth rocks - the three Aguillóns - of Cabo Ortegal will be the highlight and turning point of our kayak trip. From here we will paddle back towards Cariño and deeper into the Ria Ortigueira, which offers us protection from the waves of the open ocean and many other scenic highlights - possibly enough for one or two more relaxing, wonderful days in the kayak, depending on how many of our planned reserve days have already been used to circumnavigate Estaca de Bares.

      Galicia is a world of its own: on the one hand rough, lonely and wild, on the other hand green, lovely and absolutely relaxed. Here it is usually cooler (and more humid) than in most regions of Spain, which is why you often you'll think you're in Ireland or Norway. In addition to all the lush greenery, the steep cliffs and the huge forests populated by wolves and bears, also the so-called Rias make Galicia unique: These are long inlets or river mouths that protrude deep into the interior and are strongly reminiscent of fjords - The only difference is that they are much shallower than most of their Norwegian relatives and therefore often form huge tidal landscapes that release an incredible wealth of seafood at low tide, which thrives here in the clear, clean and cool waters of the Atlantic.

      Important to know: This one-week course includes the ISKGA “Expedition Skills” module, which is normally organised as a three-day course. However, we prefer to offer the module in the context of a week-long course because a) we are convinced that it is far more effective to have the time to be able to really practise what has been learnt and b) we want you to really be able to enjoy this time out in the fantastic nature of Northern Galicia.
    • Arrival
      Arrival, Saturday
      Individually-organised arrival. We will meet in the afternoon on Saturday September 10th at the Viveiro campsite. We will discuss everything else in advance in the group.

      Please note that you have to reserve your space on the campsite yourself.
    • Day 1–6
      Day 1 to day 6
      On Sunday morning, after we have finished loading our boats, we will head north, out of the relatively protected Ria de Viveiro to Cape Punta Cameiro, where we will set up our first bivouac on the beach.

      In the following days we will paddle further west. First deep into the quiet Ria de O'Barqueiro, then around the Cape Estaca de Bares and back into the Ria de Ortigueira. If the conditions allow it, we will reach Cabo Ortegal as the westernmost point of our tour, from where we will paddle back into the Ria de Ortigueira.

      During our trip we will spend the night in bivouacs and teach the following course content:

      Camp craft and organisation:
      Group dynamics on expeditions
      Choosing the right camp
      Camp organisation in accordance with the "Please Remember What Comes First" rule
      Building shelters, improvisation, rescue
      Camp and food hygiene
      Leave No Trace

      Planning and preparation:
      Planning food and drinking water
      Sourcing and preparing drinking water on the coast: there are more possibilities than you might think
      Equipment and packing: What must we take with us? What can we take with us? What really makes sense? How do I get organised and how do I pack?

      Fire and bushcraft: *
      Flint and steel and other methods – up to and including the bow drill
      Survival and making fire in every situation, using whatever you can find
      Safety and Leave No Trace
      Minimal equipment and the bail out bag

      * Attention: We are aware that open fires in nature are forbidden in Galicia and we respect that. Fortunately, we know official campfire sites in which barbecuing (and thus logically also making a fire) is allowed. Therefore – despite all the beauty of an open campfire – we will practice our fire methods where it is allowed and safe.

      Hunting and gathering:
      Kayak fishing
      Setting crab traps
      The intertidal zone: mussels and other seafood
      Seaweed and algae
      Food from the intertidal zone

      Wildlife and ecology:
      Start to really get to know the fascinating flora and fauna of the coastal and intertidal zones.
      Wildlife and conservation ethics
    • Travel back
      Travel back, Saturday:
      Individually-organised travel back from Ortigeuira or Viveiro.

      Unless you have a lot of time or you have already been travelling in Spain anyway, the easiest and most convenient way to travel to Galicia is by plane and possibly renting a car from there, ideally teaming up with the other participants. The nearest airport is A Coruña (108 km). But Santiago (149 km), Gijon (187 km) or Vigo in southern Galicia (242 km) are alternatives with good connections.
    • More info
      Group size: Min. three participants, max. six.

      If required, we will be happy to provide you with the necessary paddle and safety material, consisting of a paddle, buoyancy aid and spray deck as well as a neoprene long john, shoes, paddle jacket and a helmet. Please bring your own functional underwear (wool or tight-fitting fleece, NO cotton!) And swimwear with you.

      We will also provide the equipment needed for fishing and gathering.

      Boat rental: If you arrive without your own boat, you can rent one of our kayaks for 150 CHF for the duration of the course.

      If you like, you can also rent a drysuit from us. Cost: CHF 150

      The kitty: Even though we will collect a lot of delicious things from nature, that does not mean that we would not stock up on "conventional" supplies for our Expedition Skills Week. So as always, we will set up a kitty for meals. In fact, there will actually be two: one for food (€100 contribution per person) and one for alcohol (depending on how much you consume, or your best guess at it). Nobody is obliged to pay into the kitty, nor to eat together with us. But cooking and eating together after a strenuous day's paddling is just good fun, and not only does it help to strengthen our tired muscles; it also helps us to create a sense of community. Find more on this topic here.

      Weather:
      As you might expect, we can't make any guarantees in terms of weather or sea state. In order to ensure everyone's safety, our guide will decide how to carry out the planned programme locally on a daily basis, and whether to do so. As experienced sea kayakers, we know that Neptune always has the last word.

      Accident insurance is the responsibility of the participants.
      We also strongly recommend that you obtain travel cancellation insurance. Please read our GTC on the topic of cancellation fees, cancellation deadlines etc.
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    PARTICIPATION REQUIREMENTS:

    ++ Must be able to swim ++
    ++ at least 10 days of sea kayaking experience on the sea ++
    ++ You paddle solidly on level red - that means you sit safely in the boat at up to 4 Bft and waves of 50+ cm ++
    ++ Experience in following seas ++
    ++ Experience with surf landings (through 1m surf or possibly more) ++
    ++ You are familiar with handling tow lines & Co ++
    ++ You can sit and paddle in your kayak for two hours without a break ++

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    CLICK HERE TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT


    How to get to Viveiro, Galicia:

    • Rail

      ++ Unless you are already travelling in Spain anyway (or unless have loads of time) we don't really recommend coming by train from Central Europe, because it is simply too far away ++
      ++ However: There is a beautiful narrow-gauge railway line between Gijon and Ferrol, to which both Viveiro and Ortigueira are connected ++
      ++ Taking the train is a real option if you are coming from the UK on the Plymouth–Santander ferry! ++

    • Road

      ++ If you come from the UK: Take the ferry Plymouth–Santander! From there it's just a leisurely five hours drive on the Autovia Cantabrico to Viveiro ++
      ++ From Switzerland / Central Europe: A long journey via Bordeaux and Irun (Spanish border), then keep driving on the Autovia Cantabrico via Bilbao, Gijon to Foz. Here you turn onto the N-642 to Viveiro ++

    • Aeroplane

      ++ The best way to get to distant Galicia is by plane. Possible airports are: A Coruña (108 km), Santiago (149 km), Gijon (187 km) or Vigo (242 km) ++
      ++ From there it is best to take a rental car ++

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