This article is a community submitted post by Mark Armstrong. Mark is originally from Sydney, Australia, and currently lives in a van (seriously). They’ve been on Couchsurfing for a little under 2 years now and loves traveling and kayaking different rapids. For more articles like this, check out their blog/website Kayak Guru.
From the adventurous and dangerous to the calm and simple, the world is filled with amazing kayaking spots. This is good news for travelers who want something more than just seeing the sights from dry land.
Each place on this list offers something unique, whether you’re an adrenaline seeker or a more relaxed paddler:
Water Safari On The Zambezi
The Zambezi River wends its way through Zimbabwe and Zambia in Africa and is home to some incredible rapids and plenty of calmer water. If you’re the adventurous type, kick off your trip at the base of Victoria Falls. This massive waterfall sends water channeling through the Batoka Gorge and over some truly fierce rapids. The rapids have some great names too; Commercial Suicide, Gnashing Jaws of Death, and the Devil’s Toilet Bowl.
For those who don’t feel like this kind of challenge, the waters a bit further downstream are much calmer. They also offer some incredible opportunities to view game in places like the Mana Pools National Park. Paddlers can pick one type of tour or combine them – adventure first and game viewing second.
Kayak In The Himalayas
The Himalayas and Nepal are usually thought of as places for hiking and intrepid adventures heading up into the mountains. However, these mountains also lend themselves to the creation of rivers that are challenging and exciting to paddle along too. You can traverse vast sections of this mountain range from the seat of your kayak. There is even a White Water Festival hosted every year in the region – the perfect way to get to know the rivers and the people
There are a number of guided expeditions in the region, many of which take place over several days. These longer expeditions give you the perfect opportunity to really explore the mountains and to enjoy a unique vantage point of the area from the seat of your kayak. However, one of the most famous sections of the river to tackle is the Upper Set, which is just a half-day adventure and suited to all experience levels.
Paddle With Greenland’s Glaciers
The Sermilik Fjord in Greenland is an exceptional stretch of water. You can only really paddle it in high summer though, otherwise, the waters are too dangerous, and the weather will not be your friend. During this season, the waters are calm, still and almost glass-like, except when an iceberg breaks loose from the sheet and causes some waves.
Your kayaking adventure here will take you past massive chunks of ice that are floating away from the mainland. Their reflections in the calm waters are magnificent to see. You may also get lucky and see seals and whales playing in the waters around you.
Island Hopping In Croatia
The Dalmatian Coast is fast becoming one of the must-see shorelines in the world. Just off the coast from the city of Dubrovnik, there are literally hundreds of islands that are within easy paddling distance. They are also surrounded by coral reefs bursting with sea creatures. The best part is you don’t need a snorkel or diving gear to see any of it because the water is so clear.
Not many boats are allowed in the area, making the waters heaven for kayakers and swimmers. You can spend days paddling from one island to the next, enjoying meeting the locals or taking some quiet time and a secluded cove on the smaller, deserted islands.
The New Zealand Gorges
New Zealand enjoys a fairly small population and plenty of untouched landscapes, making it a great combination for travelers. You can get all the modern amenities you need and want in the cities, but in a matter of moments, you can be out in the wilderness with nothing but your food supplies and kayak for company.
The South Island has a very mountainous terrain with rivers running through valleys and gorges and out over plateaus. You’ll find a range of difficulty levels here for kayakers of all levels of experience, with some impressive rapids to challenge even the most serious of paddlers.
Alaska’s Glacier Bay
Alaska truly is a remote wonderland, especially for those looking for tranquility out on the open water. The coastline is rugged and wild, with deep fjords that take you inland between snow-capped mountains and untamed rainforest regions. The waters of Glacier Bay are largely calm, but there is enough excitement in the area for those who prefer an adventure when out on their kayak. You may even find yourself dodging glaciers as they move down and off the mountains.
The region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a US National Monument, so it will remain untouched and completely pristine for years to come. It’s also a marine park, with plenty of wildlife both in the water and on the shores. There’s plenty to look out for as you explore the bay.
The White Waters Of Patagonia
The Futaleufú River in Chile is a haven for kayakers that love white waters and challenging rapids. The water races down the Patagonian mountains and into the Pacific at the tip of the country. The river is cold and brilliant, as melting snow and ice high up on the top of the Araucanía region flow into it all year round. The area is wild and untamed, with vast stretches of land where you won’t see any people except your kayaking group. For safety’s sake, it’s definitely best to take a guided tour down this river.
In the upper reaches of the river, there are plenty of Class V+ rapids that will challenge even the most experienced of paddlers. As you head further away from the mountains, the waters calm down somewhat, but don’t get lulled into a false sense of security – there are rapids lurking along the entire length of the river. There are some calm stretches perfect for just floating along, and some more exciting stretches that require you to keep your wits about you.
There’s a veritable paradise for paddlers to explore all over the world. All you need to do is pick your perfect spot.