Climbing in Gozo
With a national emblem being its three small hills, Gozo, it could be thought, would not figure strongly as a rock climbing destination. Yet its deep gorges carved out of the limestone rock by millennia of rainfall have steep walls and overhangs which provide excellent routes.
The cliffs of the southern coast, and the rocky inland crags of the interior add to this diversity of Gozo Climbing, which, thanks to the small size of the island, are never far away by car. Add to this 300 days of sunshine a year, and a balmy climate from October to May, the island is now gaining in popularity amongst the climbing fraternity, with enough variety and challenges to keep even the keenest cragsman on his toes.
Gozo climbing was first started during the 1950s and 60s when the British army set up some routes with fixed ropes and produced a small guide book.
Following independence in 1964, the climbing potential of the island was largely forgotten, but in the last decade, thanks to the dedication of locals and a growing appreciation by visiting climbers of the excellent opportunities available, more fixed bolted routes and new climbing areas are being opened each year.
The most developed climbing zone is in Mgarr ix-Xini, a lovely gully of high limestone walls which leads down to the sea at a small cove. Here many kinds of routes, some of which are bolted, cater for all levels of climber, from the rank beginner to an experienced rock hopper.
Xavier Hancock - climbing in Gozo
"...it's still an undiscovered haven for climbers" [01:30]"
At Dwejra, on the south western end of the island, the high cliffs which drop down to the Inland Sea have traditional routes in some of the most spectacular scenery on the island, with good quality rock and with the possibility for experienced climbers to open up new climbs, although care has to be taken in spring not to disturb the many nesting sea birds.
A new area has just been opened up between the pretty old fishing village of Xlendi and Munxar, with 21 bolted new routes in another long gorge leading down to the coast.
Funded by the Gozo Ministry, the Malta Tourism Authority, the local town councils, members of the Gozo Climbing Association and the company Gozo Adventures which specialise in all kinds of adventure sports on the island, it is proving to be very popular , the hidden limestone cliffs and overhangs providing a dramatic location for some challenging ascents and abseils. For those who would like to have a taste of the sport before committing to the real thing, the Gozo Sports Centre Indoor Bouldering wall in the capital Victoria provides the chance to check out the techniques and to keep in trim.
Find out more about activities in Gozo