Day trip to discover Alcantara Gorges
Time about 4-5 hours
Striking masterpiece of the nature: a canyon along the river Alcantara... with some misteries about the formation of the gorges...
Alcantara is one of the most important rivers in Sicily: with a lenght of 53 km (33 mls) and a spring at 1400 meters of height on the Nebrodi mounts, it is the second one for water flow rate after the Simeto.
The name Alcantara is Arabic, as many others toponyms of Sicily, (Al-Qantarah - The Bridge - with reference to a pre-existing Roman bridge over the river).
The river runs along the northern boundary of Etna passing through the Gorges of Alcantara, a narrow canyon 25 meters (82 ft) high, 2-5 meters (6-16 ft) wide and 6 km (3,7 mls) long formed by a basalt lava flow platform generated during the last 8000 years by the eruptions of mount Dolce, a low height side crater of Etna 800 mt (2620 ft) high.
The formation of the canyon is a possible consequence of a sismic event which splitted the basalt platform thus allowing the river to pass in between.
The area is spectacular and very attractive to visit for the natural beauty, the freshness and the cleaness of the river water, the relaxing small beach surrounded by a luxuriant vegetation and, mainly, the presence of massive poligonal basalt columns with different shapes: horizontal or "woodpile", vertical or "organ pipes", descending or "folding fan".