All the things you don’t know about one of Sicily’s jewels!

In Sicily, nature never ceases to assert itself, offering us landscapes each more fascinating
than the last. The Alcantara offers one of the most impressive excursions in Sicily. The
area’s fame lies in the fact that, in prehistoric times, the Alcantara riverbed was crossed by
numerous lava flows, altering its course and dramatically sculpting the natural landscape.
In fact, this 52-kilometre-long river meanders between Mount Etna to the south and the
Nebrodi and Peloritani Massif to the north, passing through enchanting landscapes dotted
with historical remains.

Its name derives from the Arab influence which extends over the territory. Indeed, it is a
derivation from a bridge near its mouth at Giardini-Naxos, the word “Al qantar” meaning
bridge in Arabic. Lava flows have sculpted fascinating natural formations, including
hexagonal columns and spectacular gorges carved by erosion. Some sections are so narrow
that they are only a few meters wide! The Gole dell’Alcantara feature cliff faces dozens of
meters high, creating a multitude of natural shapes and patterns.

Flora and Fauna: A Multifaceted Spectrum
The Alcantara Gorge is like an archive of Etna’s lava flows. In the upper part of the valley,
the river is fed mainly by rainwater. In the lower part, on the other hand, Etna’s
underground waters gush out, mixing with the rainwater. In this way, sky and earth come
together in harmony.

Nature plays a key role in this process. The gorges are home to some of the most diverse
flora and fauna in the country. Whether it’s birds of prey, felines or even reptiles, they
all live alongside each other. The same is true of the forest, which reigns supreme with its
many types of vegetation: oriental plane trees, broom and peonies, as well as a wide
variety of colourful flowers: violets, poppies, anemones… Not forgetting a few fruit trees
that have taken root to the delight of animals… and people!

What to do in the Alcantara Park?
As well as its soothing appearance, the Gorges offer a wealth of opportunities for fun and
excitement :

  • Body rafting : a fantastic water experience proposes by among natural
    lava gorges and canyons. By taking on the crystal clear waters of the Alcantara River
    you will have a pure shot of adrenalin! Equipped with wetsuit, safety helmet and life
    jacket, you will take on one of the most beautiful rivers of Sicily.
  • Quad : In the heart of the Alcantara Valley, the sensation of speed and freedom is
    yours! In a breathtaking natural setting, the adrenalin will be at your disposal. Over the
    centuries, the wild, frozen waters of the Alcantara river have eroded an ancient lava flow,
    creating a canyon-like landscape. Now thanks to it’s your turn to be part of
    the scenery!

Need more information ?

Visitors to the Alcantara Gorges can also explore the footpaths that wind through the gorge,
enjoy a swim in the cool waters of the river… Part of the Gorges is protected as a regional
park. As such, the park offers visitor facilities including picnic areas, signposted trails and
guided tours that can be visited all year round, but the best time to enjoy the beauty of the
site and outdoor activities is generally from May to September when the weather is

The gorge is 13 km from Giardini-Naxos, one of the best-known seaside resorts in north-
east Sicily. The gorge can be reached quickly from Taormina via the SS185 road!

Thus, the Alcantara Gorge is an unmissable natural destination in Sicily, offering visitors
the chance to discover spectacular scenery and enjoy outdoor activities in the heart of a
unique volcanic canyon.

Written by Clara CHALAYE