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The Gorges of the Alcantara river are one of the most famous places of Sicily, deep gorges carved into the columnar basalt by the river Alcantara. The river's name is of Arabic origin and comes from an old single-span bridge across it ("Al Qantarah," the bridge). Some theories state that the gorges have been formed due to a rupture of the basalt group (eg an earthquake). We lean to the theory of the slow basalt erosion by the river.

There are many different ways to visit the gorges:

  • Public entrance: 1.5 euros per person, visitors can use stairs to reach the river, have a bath in the cold water and see the gorges from below. It should be possibile to do some sport activity on the river with local sports association (not for free, of course)
  • Private entrance - only elevator use: 8 euros per person to reach the river. Suggested only if you cannot use stairs due to your physical conditions.
  • Private entrance - Botanical and Geological Park: this ticket allows visitors not only to use the elevator, but most important it gives access to a few trails to have panoramic view, picnic area, water/relax area and so on. Full list of activities at www.golealcantara.it, only italian language but it seems work in progress. 13 euros adult fare in 2017

Here we propose a secondary free access, suitable for a panoramic view of the gorges and also to descend next to the river.

We go beyond the tourist entrance by car (coming from Giardini Naxos) and follow the signs for the village of Gravà. Stir a couple of times to the left, drive carefully a very narrow street (be careful, it's to narrow for two cars) and finally reach a square The Alcantara Gorges: finally reach a square where we can leave the car.

In front of us there is a stone wall with stairs, we can get up to the metal railings and observe the columnar basalt of the gorges The Alcantara Gorges: columnar basalt of the gorges. In some points it is smooth and polished The Alcantara Gorges: smooth and polished, in other areas it is rough and edgy The Alcantara Gorges: it is rough and edgy. We believe it is due to water erosion and to the orientation of the basalt columns, which in some areas are vertical and can collapse as soon as the water erodes the bottom. In other poins, where the columns are horizontal, the water is not able to bring down the structure, the gorges are thicker and we are faced with the sections of polygons in lava stone extremely smooth and polished.

Let's get back on the square of the car and try to get out on the river bed. We continue to follow the dirt road The Alcantara Gorges: dirt road we were traveling by car, after a few hundred meters there is an opening in the bush The Alcantara Gorges: an opening in the bush that leads rapidly on the riverbed The Alcantara Gorges: on the riverbed. We suggest you bring with you acquashoes to be able to walk into the river bed and get inside the gorges The Alcantara Gorges: get inside the gorges.

The water is quite cold, but not deep. Arrive far as you can, into the gorges the river is narrow and the water flow is strong, do not try to move forward by climbing on the walls, you'll just risk of hurting yourself.

Alcantara river offers also the Alcantara Gurne, small lakes to relax in a peaceful area.


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