Whether it's for fitness, fun or a nature-based escape, canoeing and kayaking make for a brilliant active adventure.
Paddling along a rapid river will put your body to the test, giving you a thrilling outdoor workout and some super-strong arms to show for your effort. On the other hand, if it’s relaxation you’re after, canoeing can also be a fantastic way to unwind, mindfully enjoying the water as you paddle past beautiful natural scenery.
Here are some of the best places around the world to get out on the water.
1. Katherine River, NT, Australia
Whether you paddle through the Katherine Gorge itself or opt for a more isolated part of the river, experiencing the Katherine from a canoe is unsurpassed. Feel the looming sense of isolation as you lazily paddle over the water, birds darting overhead and lizards sunning themselves on rocks. You can’t help but get a little reflective as you pause to drift for a while. Break up the journey with a few nights sleeping out under a star-studded sky and you’ll be planning your next canoeing adventure before you’ve even dried off.
2. Nahanni River, Canada
Canada is a country made for canoeing, and the Nahanni River is a solid choice for experienced canoeists to set course. Epic in scale, it runs through Canada’s deepest river canyons, over its greatest waterfall and through jaw-droppingly beautiful wilderness along the way.
Dwarfed by sheer rock faces, you’ll descend into lush green terrain as the river winds its course, spotting any number of local wildlife from woodland caribou to basking moose. There are plenty of local adventure companies to help you plan the trip, with many bundling hiking and scenic flights into the ride.
3. Phuket, Thailand
If you’re keen to avoid the crowds flocking to Patong, perhaps a Thailand sea canoeing adventure is for you. Make the most of your boat’s agility as you navigate through the many hongs – a kind of cave, Thai for ‘room’ – dotted around Phang-Nga Bay.
These impressive internal caves and lagoons will keep even the most experienced canoeist on their toes, ducking under limestone stalactites and weaving through narrow tunnels that require the tide to be just so. Lying back to float amongst these epic formations offers that much-craved sensation of having ventured somewhere truly special.
4. Macal River, Belize
Running through the Cayo District of western Belize, the Macal River takes relaxing canoeing up a notch as you drift along, soaking up the tropical wilderness. Absorb every imaginable shade of green as you float past lush vegetation, tie up the boats for a refreshing dip, keep your eyes peeled for the local giant iguanas and watch the night animals stir as the last of the sun’s rays hit the water. If you’re keen to dabble in sea kayaking, Belize’s jewel-like barrier reef is another experience not to be missed.
5. Great Glen Canoe Trail, Scotland
It’s not a destination you’d typically associate with watersports, but Scotland's Great Glen Canoe Trail has all the makings of a staggeringly beautiful canoeing adventure. The journey from west to east coast through the Great Glen loch and river system usually takes around five days, and can be arranged independently or with helpful local tour guide. Camp out on the shores of the Scottish lochs, embrace all the beauty of the mist-shrouded Highlands and face the legend of the mighty Loch Ness monster head on.
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