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KKayaking 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.
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 among many of the country's larger rivers. The Mkomazi, Umzimkulu and Umgeni 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 2 other substantial rivers worth investigating.
Try the Breede River for a 1-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.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Dirty Boots Adventures
Tel: +27 (0)21 713 1491
How to get here
Kayak tour operators are usually situated within easy access of departure points. Those that aren't will provide 4X4 transport for necessary kayaking gear.
Best time to visit
Kayaking in the Cape is best during summer (December, January and February) when conditions are hot, days are longer and there is no rainfall.
Adventure or adrenaline sports operators offering kayaking and white-water rafting are based near larger, navigable rivers and at suitable coastal points, mainly around the Cape coast, where conditions are favourable.
Length of stay
Set aside half a day for a decent kayak trip, preferably in the morning before the wind comes up and it gets too hot.
What to pack
Tour operators provide equipment including the kayak, a guide and transport, but you will need a windbreaker, swimming costume, beach towel, peak cap, sunscreen and water.
What to eat
Expeditions will differ, but for day trips it is advisable to take your own food.