Kayaking is a year-round water sport and outdoor activity in a single or double boat with oars. The name comes from the words "kayak" (boat) and "moving".
In kayaking, you move on a small boat made of carbon, polyethylene, or fiberglass. There’re also inflatable kayaks that are easy to transport. You move in a kayak due to the oars with which you row, as well as due to the flow of water or waves.
The main type of kayaking is riding down a rough river. It's also called whitewater kayaking because you overcome the river rapids, where the river rages and seems white. Such rafts are divided into six categories according to complexity: from routes for beginners to the most difficult and dangerous. Kayaking is also popular in other waters like ponds, rivers, seas, oceans, and reservoirs. The most popular kayaking destinations are New Zealand, Hawaii, Norwegian fjords, and Canadian rivers. There’re sections for both beginners and experienced kayakers.
Kayaking is considered a year-round sport, but for beginners, it's better to go only in warm weather — being long in cold water may lead to serious health problems. Snowkayaking is gaining popularity in regions with stable snow cover; it is riding kayaks on snowy slopes with deep loose snow. It seems like snowboarding but not so common.
The main pleasure of kayaking is to combine a journey on the water in nature with a sporting activity that is good for your health. Anyone can go kayaking. It’s enough for a beginner to put on a life jacket, a helmet and go to the water with an experienced instructor. The main dangers of kayaking are capsizing your boat and ending up in the water, which is amplified on river rapids.
Text: Natalia Kirasheva, a travel and business author and editor from Moscow, Russia. She has a Bachelor's degree from the Faculty of Geography of Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU) with specialties in Economic Geography and Tourism, and Environmental Management. Her favorite sports are windsurfing and snowboarding. Ivan Kuznetsov contributed to this guide
Cover photo: Tim Umphreys / Unsplash