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Kayaking In Canada

If you enjoy getting out and back to nature then kayaking in Canada may just be what the doctor ordered. Kayaks are single person vehicles that allow you to enjoy even the coldest waters and see some of the most beautiful and rugged landscape Canada has to offer. You can slowly row your way around many of the calm lakes in the country, do a little white water kayaking down Canadian rivers, or even paddle your way out to sea to up close to whales and other marine life that you may never have had the chance to do before.

Like white water rafting and canoeing, kayaking expeditions in Canada are growing more and more popular, with tourism dollars continuously boosting the Canadian economy. With pristine lakes and rivers – and gorgeous ocean shores around the British Columbia and Vancouver areas – there is plenty for kayaking enthusiasts to enjoy. Kayaking outfitters can set you and your whole family up to take Canadian kayaking trips for a single day or week long trips that allow you to visit some of Canada’s cultural and historical sites at the same time. It is really the only other way to see moose and bear on the rivers, and maybe even experience the Northern Lights. For more information about other ways to travel the rivers and lakes, please read Rafting in Canada and Canoeing in Canada.

Like the canoe, the kayak goes back to the native Indian tribes that lived in Canada. Kayaks were used by the Aunu, Aleut, and Inuit hunters in the sub-artic northern regions long before anyone knew these tribes existed. As time has evolved around the kayak and canoeing grew in popularity, both sports grew into a multi-million dollar business for the country. Many people feel as one with the water when kayaking and some of this could be due to the way they sit in the boat.

Kayaks as single person vehicles, double is they are designed for the stronger currents of the ocean. The deck is covered and the kayaker sits in a small cockpit with their legs extended out in from of them, bringing them to water level. Kayaks are propelled through the water with a double bladed paddle and the area behind the kayaker can be used for equipment or flotation devices to offset the rapids when white water kayaking. They are made today in as many different materials as canoes and can weigh as little as four pounds. They are also commonly known in Canada as the K-boat.

Canada is the only country in the world with a canoe museum that includes and extensive collection of kayaks in addition to the canoes displayed there. The Canadian Canoe Museum opened up in 1960 and today there are over 600 canoes and kayaks in the Museum from around the world, presenting the most comprehensive collection of boats in one place.

Canadian kayaking trips with a licensed kayaking guide through a reputable company are exciting and offer you and your family numerous options. Kayak rentals are available, especially if you are doing any sea kayaking in Canada. Sea kayaks are slightly larger than a standard kayak as they are designed to hold up to two people. It’s not a very difficult sport to learn and even novices are able to enjoy go out onto the ocean after a lesson or two. Instructors and guides worth their salt will instruct you on paddling, how to keep you kayak upright, and how to maneuver it through slightly faster running water, such as gentle flowing river. Advanced kayakers may go for some white water fun, which takes plenty of experience to do. Unlike canoeists, however, kayak white water enthusiasts are a bit more limited on the rapid classification they can traverse.

How you choose your Canadian kayaking trips will depend on your skill level and the type of water you want to traverse. Here are the most common water types you will find in Canada and they can help you base your decision on the trip you want accordingly:
  • Class A: still water of a lake.
  • Class I: rapids that is smooth with clear waterways, the occasional sand bank, gentle curves and the challenge of paddling around bridges and other obstacles.
  • Class II: moderate with medium to quick water, some regular waved rapids but clear and open passage between rocks and ledges with maneuvering required. Best handled by intermediate canoeists who can maneuver kayaks easily and read water.
  • Class III: moderately difficult with higher and irregular waves, rocks, eddies and the ability to run. Not recommended for kayaking.
  • Class IV: difficult with long and powerful rapids, standing waves, souse holes and boiling eddies, powerful and precise maneuvering required, and visual inspection needed. Not recommended for kayaking.
  • Class V is extremely difficult with long and violent rapids, river obstructions, big drops, steep gradients and violent currents. Not recommended for kayaking.
  • Class VI should be left to only paddlers of Olympic ability and high experience levels. Not recommended for kayaking.
Your kayaking expeditions requires certain safety precautions, such as warm clothing, sunscreen that is waterproof, wet suit or other warm regular clothing for gentle trips, paddling jacket, shoes that are made for water wear but comfortable on land, shoes for hiking, light weight tent, sleeping bag, and pad, and of course, the camera. You should always be strong in your ability to swim and if not, should stick to lower classes of canoeing. Listening to your guide is imperative as they know what they are doing. Never select a trip that is out of you class range or age and wear your lifejacket and helmet if required at all times.

Only bring along the equipment you need for the length of your trip. There are plenty of multi-day trips and excursions available along the Canadian waterways and the sea and if you want something that is going to provide you with a very well-rounded vacation then you may want to look into kayaking packages that include hiking, camping, and maybe even fishing into your kayaking activities.

You've seen us mention ocean kayaking in Canada. Using a kayak is the best way to head out onto the ocean and it is done all over the world. It can be done solo or with another person and sea kayaks are built for comfort and longer tips on the water. They are not quite as maneuverable as a standard kayak, but that is not as much of an issue when you are on the water for long periods on end. Whitewater and river kayaking keep you pretty much on the rivers of the country you are sailing and dealing with considerably faster water. Sea kayak trips in Canada have you out the open waters of the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean and paddling at your own pace with only the strength of the ocean water to deal with.

Some of the best Canadian kayaking destinations that are available for all levels of enthusiasts include:
  • Gulf Islands and Inside Passage, British Columbia, offer kayakers of all skill levels an inner coast region to explore that includes coves, islands, inlets, and fjords as well as interesting geography, climate, wildlife, and cultures to visit.
  • Whale-watching hundreds of orcas, humpback and minke whales during the summer months as they return to the Vancouver area
  • Saguenay Fjord, Quebec is a 200 km run north of Quebec City at the joining of the Saguenay and St. Lawrence Rivers. This is the longest fjord in Eastern Canada and the area is well hiking, biking, and kayaking.
  • Nova Scotia's coastline stretches 7,600 km long, has beaches, coves, cliffs, and untouched bays ready for exploring. It also brings guests close enough to festivals and wineries for a different take on the kayaking vacation.
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