“Winding through a vast forest, it's a wild, steep-banked river, bordered here and there by small cliffs.
The 25km, class 1 circuit, is not regularly maintained for canoeing trips. It may be quite physical, we might have to carry our canoes or pass over tree trunks…”.
The invitation from the Montois Canoeing-Kayaking Club sounded interesting and it turned out that the pretty wild “bivouac-excursion down the Douze” left members with some unforgettable memories. The stretch is now a safe and gentle adventure, open to all, between Roquefort, Mont-de-Marsan and further on, Tartas.
Instigated by the Syndicate of the Midou and the Douze, work on the rivers initially started in response to a European imperative for the free movement of Eels and Shads, until then blocked by a damn at Mont-de-Marsan. Added to this was a huge clean-up, the building of entry/exit areas and the construction of a canoe slideway at the confluence of the Midou and the Douze.
Three times more fun
Naturally, the site should preserve the flora, fauna and fish habitat. Of the more than 100 logjams and fallen trees identified, only five were removed, the largest. The others can be bypassed. All in all, the navigable stretch is now three times longer than before!
From survey to fieldwork, the whole stretch revealed an abundance of nature, main migratory route for the Shad and the Eel. The fresh and gentle waters of the Douze and the Estampon cherish Lamprey, Pike and Rainbow Trout. Building the canoe slideway helped us identify Barbels, Black Bass, Roaches, Dowels...: in fact, a very long list that impressed the French Fishing Federation.
The riverbanks hold similar surprises, from the huge Oak at the entrance to the Roquefort Canoe Club, to the unmistakeable prehistoric Royal Ferns. Deer, herons, jays, otters and minks frequently popped up. In summertime, it's high seasons for the dragonflies who dance and buzz around before landing like butterflies, wings together.
Canoeing and Kayaking
These secret rivers really open up when you discover them by canoe or kayak. Set off down the Estampon with the Roquefort Club and let yourself be taken by surprise by its chalk cliffs in these Gascony Landes with their reputation for being so flat...
Stop under a natural gallery then under the “policeman's hole”, where legend has it a brigand escaped from the local forces. If you've got more time, make the adventure last longer by taking the bivouac option over 2 days, from Roquefort to Mont-de-Marsan or from Mont-de-Marsan to Tartas.
One thing's for sure, you'll have direct access to some unusually well-preserved landscapes.