There are few better ways to see the world than by kayak. A kayaking trip is a perfect way to feel nature and enjoy your leisure time. If you are lucky enough to be on vacation after a busy season, kayaking should be one of your first choices for spending your free time. For kayakers, here are a few ultimate trips that we would love to make:
The French Alps
The French Alps are a beautiful playground for kayakers. Starting with the Ardèche for beginners or the bigger volume of the Sunshine Run on the Durance for an intermediate/advanced trip, you can get used to the style and size of the rivers in the region before progressing in a direction that suits your style. For the more advanced paddlers, the French Alps are the perfect warm-up before advancing to the more challenging waters of the Austrian, Swiss, and Italian Alps. With stunning mountains, clean, clear water and croissants for breakfast, the Alps are an awesome adventure. I am sure if you visit French alps, that would be a holiday to remember.
If you’re up for boosting your game and getting a good workout, head to the Soča river in Slovenia for the clearest waters in the world. There’s only really one river to paddle, but it’s as beautiful as it is sprawling. The Soča has several sections, each of varying difficulty, which is why it’s chosen as one of the main destinations for club trips. Some really nice and affordable hotels are present in the surroundings which makes it comfortable to visit as well.
Ottawa River, Canada
If you’re after big water, huge rapids and amazing waves, then head to Canada and the Ottawa River. Here you’ll find some of the safest big water in the world. Two different channels offer a range of rapids to suit and entertain everyone, from beginners to the elite. In the spring, this becomes the base for some of the world’s top kayakers as they search out big rapids during snow-melt season. During the summer months it becomes a bubbling community with a mixture of all ages and abilities taking to the warm water to surf and paddle some amazing rapids and waves. It’s also home to many major freestyle and white water competitions every year. So, if you want to test your kayaking skills, do visit and enjoy some of the most beautiful fresh waters of the world.
Nepal, South Asia
Nepal is one of the most amazing kayaking holiday destinations to be visited. The scenery, culture, people and rivers make Nepal a truly magical place. Whether you’re paddling the Upper Seti half day run out of Pokhara or heading on one of the multi-day expeditions in the Everest region, there’s so much country to explore and paddling to be done. Plus every year, the Nepalese Rafting Association hosts a White Water Festival, which is a great place to meet other paddlers and start a trip. It is one of the top places for kayaking in South Asia.
Hidden away in the furthest parts of the planet is the adventure paradise of New Zealand. Whether you’re looking for grade 2 or grade 5+ kayaking, New Zealand has everything. The North Island has a real rainforest feel, with rivers cutting their way through tree-lined gorges. The South Island is a stark contrast, with Alpine mountains, rolling hills, and valley after valley filled with classic kayaking runs. Unlike Europe, New Zealand’s population is very small and as such, the country is still very open and under developed, so some of your kayaking adventures will see you hiking to the middle of nowhere, or even flying in on helicopters. Kaikoura - a coastal town on the South Island replete with dolphins and whales, is particularly recommended.
Famous for its big water and technical drops, Norway is far from just a kayaking destination for the elite. With stunning coastal areas, fantastic fjords, and some of the best rivers in the world, it has something for kayakers of every level. That said, it is the only country with the grading X (a step above grade 6 - literally no chance ever of surviving these rapids and drops). Read the guide books carefully and choose your runs - and if in doubt, portage (carry your craft around obstacles) to be sure. Start with the West Fjord, running out of Oslo, and take it from there, making sure to stop off at the coastal town of Helgeland and Hidra Island.
One of the 7 Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls marks the boundary between the upper and middle sections of the Zambezi river, famous for its big volume white water and numbered rapids and waves. Featured in almost every hit list of travellers, the rapids on this African river have rightly made a name for themselves. The water is predominantly Grade 3 - 4+ with a few exceptions. Grab yourself a local guide and go explore what this incredible gorge has to offer. Stay at the Islands of Siankaba on the Zambian side of the falls for a luxury experience that’s right on the water.
USA has variety of kayak destinations from the epic creeks and freestyle features in Colorado, to the big volume rapids and famous classic runs of West Virginia, to the super steep crazy gnar of California, and the continuous big volume of the Payette and the Middle Salmon. The USA is an awesome kayaking holiday destination. Two stand out destinations are the Grand Canyon of Colorado and the main Salmon River. If you’re opting to start at the latter, the Salmon River Motel is a low-key way to set up camp.
Chile is famous for kayaking. Hands down, it has everything a kayaker could possibly want, from huge waterfalls and stunning bright blue rapids, to the Futaleufu - one of the coolest-named rivers you’ll ever run. Whether you’re a hardcore creek boater looking for an epic photo, or a recreational paddler looking for beautiful crystal blue water, Chile has something for everyone. Set up base in Pucon and you have easy accessible class 3-4 runs, or you can even go further afield and explore.
A week of kayaking where the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean meet is probably not something you’ve even considered before. Paddling the crystal clear waters of the Indonesian archipelago, this is a trip with diversity hard to match. You’ll be kayaking Flores island and the surrounding area, past white sand beaches, secret caves, and pop by to visit some Komodo Dragons. Pante Hera, home to the only turtle conservation center on Flores Island, is a place worth seeing. A 1.7 kilometer beach that doubles as a nesting ground for Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtles is also around and adds up to your kayaking adventure.
The Best Kayak Vacations
There are a lot of spots around the globe where you can enjoy your vacations on a kayak. All you need to do is plan your trip carefully and look for destinations with multiple kayaking spots. It obviously saves money and time such as in Europe, there are numerous kayaking spots within a distance of a few hundred kilometers. Plan smartly, spend wisely, and, most of all, enjoy your trip.