Kayaking in South Africa. It’s time. Get paddling.
The 2000s saw the emergence of mountain biking into mainstream awareness and popularity. In the 2010s, trail running – a fringe discipline that had been around for decades - became the next best thing since mountain biking. The 2020s are the years that will see a rise in the number of people paddling for pleasure, recreation, fishing, touring, and fitness.
Paddling is an active, recreational activity. From grandchildren to grandparents, paddling is an activity that all ages can enjoy together because the limitations of fitness, speed, and strength are mostly irrelevant in a social setting. You do not need any prior experience to paddle and within a few minutes, you can acquire basic skills.
This outdoor activity offers a host of benefits. Upper-body and core strength, cardiac exercise, and improved endurance are key physical rewards of paddling. This impact-free activity is a brilliant cross-training discipline for runners as well as those recovering from injury. It is in the mental health gains that paddling also shows returns. Being outdoors and on the water boosts your mood and rates highly for stress relief. Paddling is quite a meditational discipline with your rhythmic paddle strokes as an accompanying beat to channel your focus.
Let’s see how you can get on the water.
The number of operators offering magnificent guided-kayaking experiences is increasing. Most use stable, plastic sit-on-top kayaks that are stable and easy to paddle. These kayaks can handle different types of waterways and conditions with ease.
Kayak tours plan their trips to showcase nature, interesting features, and beautiful views of an area. Joining a tour is a great way to explore places – even your home city. Being on the water, looking at the city of Cape Town with Table Mountain as its backdrop, while surrounded by sunfish and dolphins, is an unsurpassed experience.
Tours in cities and holiday towns are usually two to three hours in duration. These are accessible and are perfect to do with visitors, friends and family. You can also join overnight and multi-day kayak tours, like those on the Orange River where it flows through the striking Martian landscape of the Northern Cape province. The combination of paddling down the river during the day and wild camping at night – out of mobile reception - is the ultimate escape.
After your first memorable kayak tour, you’ll find yourself flipping through magazines and guides to plan your holidays to visit locations where kayak tours are available. Look out for specialized trips with guides who are experienced in fishing, birdwatching, and photography from the seat of a kayak. Guesthouses and resorts on dams, rivers, and estuaries may have kayaks available that you can use for the duration of your stay.
Kayak hire is another way to get your paddling fix. Venues may hire out their kayaks for a fixed time period, while kayak stores and operators may allow you to book and collect one of their kayaks to use for a number of days.
When you spot waterways and immediately begin judging them as big enough to paddle on or not, it is time to buy your own kayak. Turn to the internet, visit your nearest kayak store, or contact the brands directly for recommendations on the best kayak for your purposes.
Whether you live close to water or a distance away, there are many ways – from booking two-hour kayak tours to buying your own kayak – to get onto the water. Paddling is an activity that you can enjoy on your own, with pets and other people, and it opens up a range of places to explore where memorable experiences will abound.