Canoeing, kayaking and rafting are three of the most exhilarating activities to be enjoyed in the great outdoors. Each can be a wonderful way to access some of the world's most remote wilderness, or to explore more genteel landscapes closer to home. Travel Editor Tom Le Bas describes what's on offer.
A swiftly surging mountain river has a magic all of its own, an elemental force that seems to define the wilderness. And there's no better way to feel its power than by climbing aboard a raft, canoe or kayak and letting the foaming water carry you downstream through the rapids. However, that's only part of the story: a totally different experience awaits on less turbulent waterways, where paddling across, say, a Finnish lake or along a slow-flowing French river is the very essence of tranquility.
Paddle sports sometimes form one part of a multi-activity holiday - perhaps with some trekking or climbing. Otherwise many operators offer trips, around a week in duration, based on several hours on the water each day, with hotel/B&B accommodation or camping overnight.
Whitewater rafting is an exceptionally exciting activity. Or terrifying, depending on your perspective. You'll be on a big raft with several other novices (no previous experience is required), and a highly skilled, calm and entirely necessary guide.
CANOEING AND KAYAKING
Most people don't know the difference between the two: basically, a canoe involves sitting or kneeling and a single-blade paddle whereas in a kayak you sit with your legs stretched out in front of you and use a paddle with a blade at each end. Kayaks are a bit easier to control and are better than canoes in rapids, although canoes require less effort (if you get the technique right, that is).
Sea kayaks feature sealed bulkheads - which means they will not readily fill up with water if flipped over - for use on open water. A watertight spraydeck will keep your lower half dry. They are longer, wider and more stable, but less easy to manoeuvre, than kayaks designed for whitewater use.
There's a great selection of trips to choose from - to find the perfect one for you, have a look through our listings.
If you can't find the right trip, we're here to help. Use the live chat below or click 'Help me' and tell us about your perfect trip.
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Learn how to canoe and kayak while enjoying thrilling whitewater adventures on the ultimate Canadian paddling sampler.
This incredible backcountry fly-in adventure takes you deep into Canada's boreal forest in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park.
To celebrate Canada's 150th birthday in 2017, the fur trade experience is being recreated with Voyageur Canoe Brigades on Lake Superior.
Canada's most celebrated artists found inspiration in Algonquin Provincial Park - and you can follow in their tracks.
Wabakimi Park is the world’s largest wilderness canoeing and woodland caribou reserve, with millions of unspoiled acres of lakes and rivers.
Killarney Provincial Park has long been a famed destination for back country canoeists, with routes to suit all abilities.
With multiple access points and routes, the kayaking options in Killarney are endless - both for day trippers and those seeking a more extended adventure.
With so many freshwater lakes, streams and rivers you can find any and every kind of canoe trip adventure in Algonquin.
Over 2,400 lakes and 1,200 kilometres of streams and rivers make canoeing one of the most popular activities in Algonquin.
Few other destinations in the world can offer such a high quality wilderness experience for paddlers as Woodland Caribou Provincial Park.
Temagami boasts 2,400 kilometres of varied canoe routes which feature wildlife viewing opportunities, including moose, beaver, foxes, wolves, lynx and more.
On Lake Superior, sea kayakers experience a dynamic environment without briny saltwater and the complications of tides.
A truly tranquil Canadian wilderness experience awaits at Quetico as you explore pristine lakes and rivers, while taking in an abundance of wildlife.
Lose yourself in the picturesque islands of the Georgian Bay region, enchanted by the beauty of the ever-varying scenery as you glide along in your kayak.
Rafting enthusiasts come from around the world to the Ottawa River for the natural beauty, warm water and wave action.
The Madawaska River is perfect for all levels of paddlers - from a two-hour raft trip for the whole family through to some extreme whitewater kayaking.
If you'd like help finding a trip, just let us know what you're looking for and we'll be in touch with some ideas.
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