Canoes and kayaks (the difference between the two is explained on the paddle sports page) give you the opportunity to get right down close to the river, and their streamlined profile means you glide through the water and feel very much part of the environment.
Paddling down a river deep in the countryside, you'll see wildlife and even in more built-up areas you get a different perspective on the world, with the sounds and smells of the river all around. It can be marvellously relaxing or, if you're tackling some serious rapids, a full-scale white-knuckle ride. Meanwhile a sea kayaking holiday can be a great way to explore a coastline or island archipelago.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Both sports are often enjoyed on a short activity break or day trip, or may form part of a multi-activity trip that includes other pursuits such as mountain biking or hiking.
There is also a great range of longer (typically 7-10 days) holidays on the market that are solely based around canoeing or kayaking/sea kayaking. A typical week-long holiday might entail perhaps 4-5 hours on the water each day mixed with plenty of down-time and comfortable accommodation, or a river journey through a wilder environment that involves camping overnight.
You will be provided with a life jacket and a waterproof drum to keep your gear from getting soaked. On a self-guided multi-day canoe trip the price may include camping equipment. Some holidays are better suited to people with previous canoe/kayak experience. Another possibility is to sign up for a training course - there are numerous options available.
WHERE TO GO
Canoeing and kayaking are popular on scenic rivers and lakes, or stretches of whitewater. Perennial hotspots include the myriad lakes of Scandinavia and Canada, various rivers in France (notably the Ardeche, also the Dordogne and Gorges du Verdon), Germany, locations all over the Alps and the UK - from the River Wye to fast-flowing streams in Wales, northern England and Scotland plus various lakes and Scottish lochs, as well as in Ireland. Other emerging destinations include Portugal, Romania, Montenegro and the state of Kerala in southern India. Canoes and kayaks are also used on wildlife safaris in the Amazon and elsewhere.
As for sea kayaking, the west coast of Scotland, Shetland, Wales and southwest England, are major destinatinos. The fjords of Norway and the Baltic coasts of Sweden and Finland are other possibilities, while hotsports further south include Sardinia, Croatia, the Greek islands and Turkey. It's also popular on the west coast of Canada, Baja California in northwest Mexico, Belize, Thailand, New Zealand and Tasmania.
See our Popular Destinations section for more details.
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