From experiencing freshwater lakes and unique wildlife to having quieter moments portaging through a forest trail, canoe trips are an incredible way to connect with nature. There are few better sensations than bringing your canoe paddle down into calm lake water as the morning sun rises.
Canoeing allows for a unique freedom to explore areas that are inaccessible by car or even by hiking. Canoeing trips, regardless of their length and route, are also an excellent way to exercise. That said, there are a few places in the world where the canoeing is at its best. Traveling to these places for a canoe trip is always worth the effort and simply can not be replicated anywhere else.
However, planning a canoe trip is quite a technical process that needs to be done correctly. Understandably, this process can be daunting if you are new to canoeing. That's why pre-planned canoe trips are a fantastic option to get on the water with an experienced guide and less of the hassle.
Where to Go
If you want to go on a canoe trip, Canada stands as one of the premier destinations. This is because Canada has a lot of lakes -- about two million of various sizes to be precise -- meaning there are thousands of well-traveled canoe routes across the country.
The best time to go on a canoeing trip in Canada depends on the region. In general, the season between June to September is the best as the water has had a chance to warm up and the bugs won’t be as bad in some places.
Similarly to Canada, Finland’s land area is covered with freshwater lakes that are perfect for canoeing trips. However, Finland is much smaller. This means that canoe trippers can see much more of the entire country on an extended paddling tour. The best time to visit Finland for a canoeing trip is May through September.
Did you think world-class canoeing could happen in Africa? Well, prepare to be surprised by Botswana! The Okavango Delta in northern Botswana is the largest delta in the world. You can experience this lush region of waterways and African wildlife on a guided canoe tour in traditional dugout canoes. The best time to go is May through September.
From the famous National Parks in California to the pristine wildlife in the New England states like Maine and New York, there are lots of canoeing hot spots in the United States. From fast, challenging rivers to large, open lake routes, the U.S. has canoe routes for all levels of expertise. Like Canada and Europe, the best time to canoe is in the summer months from May to September.
Planning Your Trip
What to Look for in a Canoeing Trip
When looking for a canoe trip that is right for you, it’s important to consider your skill level and budget. Depending on the country you choose, there will be safety standards for tourism and boating. Be sure that any company or guide you hire meets and adheres to these standards for boating and aquatic gear and safety.
Average Canoeing Trip Cost & Length
The average canoe tour length can really vary based on the river or lake route you are tackling, the group size, and the pace at which you’re moving. Most beginner routes will be around three to five days long while advanced canoeing trips can be 14 to 21 days or even longer.
The cost for a shorter four-day trip starts at around $800. This includes a guide, all gear, and meals while on the trip. A longer trip (around seven days) usually starts at $1,600 and increases depending on the duration and the destination.
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
Your canoe tripping company will likely provide you with a detailed list of what you will need to pack. It is important to follow these instructions since space and weight are limited. This is because you must transport all your items for the entire duration of your trip -- even the waste you produce.
In general, pack quick-drying and rugged clothing that can be worn in different temperatures. Typically it will be cooler when you hit the water in the mornings, so dress in layers. This way you can easily take things off as you warm up as the day goes on.
If you are traveling to a country that requires you to get a visa for tourism, you will need to consider the time and price for processing that visa. For example, while citizens of many countries have visa-free entry to Canada, foreign visitors will have to apply for their eTA, which is granted electronically. Visitors to Finland will enter the Schengen Zone of Europe, which allows for visa-free travel for many passports.
Qualifications & Training
There are many possible certification courses that you can complete before you head out on any canoe trip. These special courses will teach you basics about the canoe, the different types of paddle strokes, how to properly portage a canoe, and other useful technical skills. However, your canoe trip guide should also go over these skills before you embark on your canoe trip.
There are some risks associated with embarking on a canoe trip. However, these risks can be reduced by following the proper safety procedures and tactics while en route. Never paddle in conditions that are too advanced for your skill set. Be mindful of the weather and plan ahead if lightning is in the forecast.
In general, following your guide's directions will be the key to staying safe while on your trip. Never paddle on the same side of your body continuously throughout the day. This can lead to an overuse injury in the arm and shoulder.
Wearing closed-toed shoes with a tread will ensure that your feet are protected on a portage or if you must step into the water. Always stay hydrated and prioritize having water available.