If you like to camp and you like to canoe – or even just want to try it – why not combine the two? Canoeing and camping holidays have become quite popular, and the two activities sit well together.
You can canoe for a day and return to your campsite in the evening. Or you can have a canoe trip that lasts a few days, camping along the way. Both have their joys, but they have very different requirements.
Most people who take canoe-camping holidays will own their own canoes and go canoeing regularly. There is an organisation that caters for people who love combining both activities, with day trips, weekend holidays, and multi-day trips.
If it’s something you want to pursue seriously, then buying a canoe (or canoes) will help. Many places will have canoes for rent, but if you canoe-camp regularly, the investment will soon pay for itself.
A multi-day canoe-camping trip takes plenty of organisation. You have to be very aware of what to pack and how to stow it away as you travel on the canoe. You also need to arrange for someone to pick you up at your final destination and take you, and your canoe, back to where you left your vehicle. If there are two of you with cars, you can leave a car at either end, which will obviously be cheaper.
This is where companies that put together canoe-camping holidays come into their own. Not only will they arrange the transportation, some will even take your camping gear to a pre-arranged site each day so you don’t need to worry about it on the river. Since these are businesses, you pay for all this (plenty do offer canoe rental), but it leaves you free to enjoy the holiday. There are places and companies offering canoe-camping holidays all over the UK; the Norfolk Broads are particularly popular.
Multi-day tours will often have a guide in his own canoe to lead the group. This ensures that everyone ends up in the right place, and keeps someone trained on hand in the event of problems.
There are also companies that arrange canoe-camping holidays overseas. With these, all you do is arrive with your camping gear; there’s no need to bring your own canoe. Everything is taken care of, other than you paddle your own canoe and set up your own campsite.
Starting Canoeing And Camping
The best way to start canoeing and camping is by finding a campsite that also offers canoe rental. That will allow you to canoe in the daytime and camp in the evening, and the canoe trips can last several hours if you wish.
This will allow you to become used to canoeing – you might even be able to take lessons in some campsites – and discover whether you want more of it. It makes for an excellent trial, and you’ll have time to rest those weary shoulder muscles.
Most weekend canoe-camping holidays involve day trips with a canoe, returning to the campsite, rather than setting up afresh. The logistics of this are simply much easier.
If you’re taking a canoe trip, make sure you plan your route carefully, and carry a compass as well as a good OS map. What seems simple on paper can be confusing once you’re on the water.
Make sure you take all the usual camping equipment, and include a camping stove and a couple of changes of clothes; it’s easy to end up soaked after a day of canoeing. Have waterproof bags for your backpack. Add in a length of cord that you can use as a clothesline to dry your damp clothes overnight.
Always tie everything into the canoe so it won’t disappear in the event your canoe capsizes. Balance your gear in the canoe, ensuring most of the weight is below the gunwales for stability.