Recommendations from an Expert
by Nick Hunter
Nick Hunter with Ray Goodwin at Lake Bala in Wales
I have grown up with a family of adventurers. My father went to sea on submarines, my uncle was the first man round England and Iceland in a canoe, and my cousins and brothers are forever off traveling the world. I guess it’s in my blood to explore and travel.
Life has always been more exciting for me when taking part in outdoor pursuits, and I am very lucky to have managed to turn my passions into a business.
Since 2005 I have clocked up some 15,000km of paddling in various countries and on various rivers. In Canada alone I believe I have canoed some 5000km and cycled, driven and walked a further 50,000km. However canoeing is my passion, and I want to share some on the things I’ve learned over the years to help you enjoy this incredible outdoor adventure to the fullest.
When planning a canoe trip there are many things you need to consider. Firstly are you going on your own or in a group? Personally I like to travel with at least one other person for a few reasons: safety, it’s great to share your travel experiences and because there will be times when you need to pick each other up.
When you’re away from home for any length of time you will inevitably miss things, especially when you’re cold and wet. For this reason the person, or people, you choose to travel with should be close friends and people you can trust 100%.
The type of boat you choose for your trip depends on the river you’re canoeing and the amount of equipment you intend to carry with you. I have a personal preference of Canadian open boats and use a Gatz Kookaburra RX. This boat has taken me down both the gentlest of rivers and the wildest.
You must research the river you’re canoeing and know the surrounding area as well as you can before leaving. Local knowledge is always the best. You can read a hundred books on travel, but the second you arrive in the country the locals will fill you with more knowledge than you could possibly imagine.
One of the best things about canoeing is it brings you closer to nature. You can get some amazing shots of wildlife, and I have been within 30 yards of bears, wolves, moose, deer and countless other animals. They seem to be more at ease with you when you’re in the water, and the wildlife is something I will never get bored of.
Now for my favourite rivers and where I’d recommend you go.
I have a passion for Canada, and it has so many river courses that it is possible to canoe from one side of the country to the other (a trip I am considering as I write this).
I would recommend the Yukon River to all canoeists. Starting your trip at Whitehorse and ending in Dawson approximately 450 miles. You could comfortably do this trip between 10 – 14 days and the scenery and wildlife is to die for.
France is another place I love to canoe. The Dordogne River and the Ardeche are places I’ve spent a lot of time and they are very geared up towards canoeists.
Back in England there are, again, lots of interesting rivers to choose from, and my favourite is the River Wye. Many hours I’ve spent paddling along this river and have enjoyed every minute of it.
My local river is the Medway where I can often be found. This is 22 miles of the best Kent countryside I could recommend. It’s where I learnt to paddle and it will always have a special place in my heart.
Feel free to get in contact with me if you wish to pick my brain or offer to take me on a silly river journey or trek into the middle of nowhere. My email is [email protected]
All this leaves me to say is, “safe travels.” May the wind be on your back and the sun in your face. I look forward to hearing your adventures.