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Canoeing, kayaking & rafting

© Jennifer Stern© Jennifer SternThe commercial paddling industry in southern Africa is well developed so you should find a day trip or multi-day excursion to suit almost every taste and budget. Escorted paddling trips range from flat water or gentle scenic trips with few rapids, if any, to hectic white water adventures and canoeing safaris in big game areas.

Of course, the interesting thing about rivers is that they are never the same, so you may find both flat water trips and white water adventures on the same river. Also, a particular stretch may have nice fun grade three rapids one day and the next day be a maelstrom of grade five monsters – or be washed out to nothing but a series of ripples. Commercial river operators take this into account and they may change their route (starting lower down, for example to miss a really big rapid), portage difficult rapids or cancel altogether if conditions are not safe.

Sea kayaking, too, is becoming more and more popular, and there are good tours in a number of spots along the coast. For something a little different, groups of two or four can paddle in Hawaiian Outrigger Canoes.

For a less intense paddling experience, many country guest houses and hotels are on the banks of pretty lakes and rivers, and offer their guests the opportunity of exploring these safe waterways independently. If you're into competitive paddling, check out dragon boat racing, marathon races, surfski races and white water rodeo.

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