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Do it now: Kayaking

Kayaking isn’t just for athletes — it’s a way to test your skills on wild rivers and get close to animals that would otherwise prove elusive

Do it now: Kayaking
Source Lake, Algonquin Park, Canada. Image: SuperStock

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For eco-conscious travellers who want to get up close to nature, a canoe or kayak is a no-brainer. With 70% of the earth’s surface covered in water, there are countless watery habitats walking boots just won’t get you to. These paddle safaris are picking up fans, and specialist wildlife tour operators are offering a ‘raft’ of new itineraries.

This year, Black Tomato introduced a new kayaking tour of the Congo, while Intrepid Travel features kayaking in Costa Rica to get up close to monkeys and sloths. Discover the World and Wildlife Worldwide have kayaking trips in Vancouver Island to spot humpback whales and orca, plus grizzly bears catching wild salmon.

There are plenty of alternatives for adrenalin seekers, too, with Water by Nature offering trips down the Zambezi River rapids. Snap this one up — with dams planned, the waters won’t run wild forever.

Top three: Perfect places to paddle

Canada
Algonquin Provincial Park, just a few hours’ drive from Toronto and Ottawa, offers new self-guided day trips from C$55 (£33), while those who head to Ottawa River can brush up their skills with Owl Rafting owner, Claudia Kerckhoff-Van Wijk, 10-times Canadian kayak champion.

Scandinavia
Best explored by canoe, Finland’s 40th national park, Hossa, opened in June. Sweden’s St. Anna archipelago, which comprises around 6,000 islands, is ideal for a self-guided kayaking and wild camping adventure.

UK
The Three Lakes Challenge involves paddling the lengths of the longest lakes in Wales (Bala Lake), England (Windermere) and Scotland (Lock Awe) — a total of 43 miles. Try it at a leisurely pace or race it in 24 hours.

Record breaker

186
The height (in feet) of Palouse Falls, where Tyler Bradt broke the world record for the biggest vertical descent in a kayak.

77
The speed (in mph) Bradt paddled over the waterfall

Learn the lingo

‘Wet exit’
When you’re forced to swim out of your kayak

‘Strainer’
A point where a tree or branch traps a kayak but lets water run through

‘Portage’
The act of carrying your kayak on dry land to reach water

Published in the June 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)