Kayaking is an easy-to-learn means of getting out on the water, be it a river, dam or ocean wave. Sturdy canoes seat one or two and afford an interactive experience, especially when viewing whales, dolphins, seals and penguins along the coast.

Did you know?

Research indicates that the kayak as we know it has existed for around 4 000 years.


Kayaking is a great water sport that's so easy to learn that it can be enjoyed by travellers with limited time available.

South Africa's larger rivers and calm Cape waters are premier kayaking destinations, but there is also fun to be had playing in the waves or padding around on a lake or dam. The joy of kayaking is in the paddling itself, being out in the open and being close to magnificent scenery.

A kayak is smaller and lighter than its cousin the canoe, and is constructed differently, making it more manoeuvrable.

If you're a beginner, it's probably best to choose a flat river route or coastal trip with a more experienced paddler in a double kayak. For the more experienced thrill-seeker who's attracted by the idea of bouncing down white-water rapids, a stubby, more buoyant kayak is used for such demanding conditions.

River kayaking is popular along many of the country's larger rivers. The Mkomazi, Umzimkulu and Mngeni in KwaZulu-Natal are popular canoeing and kayaking destinations, while the relatively unexplored Eastern Cape rivers such as the Umzimvubu and Tsitsa offer exciting prospects.

The town of Clarens in the Free State Province promises an attractive combination of spectacular mountain scenery during a trip down the Ash River, while the Orange cuts through the mountainous Richtersveld desert and includes overnight camping on the riverbank. The Pongola and Tugela are two other substantial rivers worth investigating.

Try the Breede River for a one-day wine tasting trip, and if you're near Mpumalanga, the Blyde River is one of the most beautiful rivers in the country.

If your holiday is of the coastal variety, Cape Town's kayaking trips are matchless. Pick and choose from routes that include stopping at a protected penguin colony at Boulder's Beach, getting close to a seal colony at the base of the Robberg Peninsula or a slow trawl around the coastline of Hermanus, where the whales venture so close that you can almost touch them!

Travel tips & Planning info

Related articles