Take a look at the surrounding shores on calm lakes and listen to the splashing of the paddle or conquer raging rivers and rapids: Kayaking is one of the most popular leisure water sports in Switzerland.
The small country is considered the moated castle of Europe and the alpine landscape is criss-crossed by rushing rivers and adventurous rapids. It’s the perfect starting point to explore Switzerland’s wild nature and exciting waters by kayak and to actively participate in the experience.
Who is kayaking suitable for?
The special thing about kayaking is that almost no previous knowledge is required to experience one of the wonderful routes with the small boat. Kayaking is suitable for anyone who wants to paddle actively through the various waters and at the same time experience the fascinating characteristics of the beautiful Swiss nature.
Due to the incredible variety of rivers and lakes in Switzerland, there are countless different routes that can offer the right experience for participants of all levels. For children and beginners, quieter routes or certain lake tours are more suitable, while for the more advanced and adventurous there are also raging rivers and raging waterfalls. Switzerland offers everyone a very special kayaking experience.
You can even kayak with certain providers if you are not a swimmer. However, the same applies to kayaking: safety first.
To ensure this, the guide should always be informed about any complaints or illnesses (especially back, muscles, joints, etc.), as well as the swimming level. This not only allows the route and the equipment to be individually adapted, but also guarantees the best possible experience on the water.
How does kayaking work?
Kayaking consists primarily of paddling and manoeuvring. You can steer the small, manoeuvrable boat through the most diverse water conditions. For this purpose you use a double paddle when kayaking.
You can kayak either alone or in pairs, according to your own wishes. On guided tours you will not only be shown the best and most enjoyable paddling technique, but you will also be introduced to all safety structures to guarantee a safe and conscientious trip.
The tours, which have degrees of difficulty corresponding to the level, then lead over rivers and lakes, past dreamy shores or over steeply falling waterfalls. Whether leisurely or full of adrenaline: Switzerland offers people of all ages and all levels exactly the right kayak tour.
Kayak, canoe or canadian?
Confusion is usually caused by the distinction between canoe and kayak, although there is also the so-called “Canadian”. Canoe is basically the generic term for the small, elongated boats, which also includes kayaks and Canadians.
Nevertheless, Canadians are usually colloquially referred to as canoeists. Therefore, in oral use, a distinction is primarily made between canoe and kayak.
Firstly, the two types of boats can be distinguished according to their origin: the canoe comes from North Africa and was used by the indigenous people there for transport and hunting, while the kayak was used by the Inuit for fishing and sailing on the open sea.
A kayak is considerably narrower and flatter than a canoe and is also not completely open towards the top, but has a kind of seat opening. A canoe, on the other hand, is completely open and therefore offers more storage space and the possibility of kneeling.
The kayak is driven and steered with a double paddle, the canoe with a single paddle. When it comes to effective navigation on different waters, a kayak is preferred for sporting activities such as white water rafting, river cruising or similar, as it is faster and more manoeuvrable.
How safe is kayaking?
Kayaking is not only a popular, active and fun, but also a very safe sport. Statistically speaking, in the whole of Switzerland only one paddler drowns during kayaking.
The BFU (Federal Office for Accident Prevention) even shows that simple measures can help to make kayaking a completely safe and fun trip. So to ensure your safety during this breathtaking experience, there are a few simple things you need to remember: In order to paddle safely on the waters, training is needed.
Guided and guided by a professional guide you can really enjoy the kayak fun and stay safe. The Swiss Canoe Federation ensures that kayak guides are professionally trained and can introduce you to the safety structures of water sports.
Especially in wild rivers it is important to wear a helmet and a life jacket. In Switzerland, waistcoats are compulsory anyway, and appropriate equipment is essential depending on the type of tour.
When kayaking, weather conditions and water levels are also important factors that should be carefully checked and appropriately assessed before every kayaking trip.
On a guided tour, the trained guides will ensure that you can enjoy this wonderful water sport in safe weather and water conditions and in the best possible equipment!
Can a kayak capsize?
A kayak is very stable and it takes quite a lot of force to make it capsize. Nevertheless, it is of course possible for a kayak to tip over. But do not worry! For one thing, it is always possible to get out of the kayak, even if it has turned. So if your kayak capsizes, you will usually have to fall out and climb back in.
If you find yourself in faster and windier waters, you should follow the previously learned instructions of your guide. This basically involves leaning into your life jacket, stretching out your legs and letting the water float you lying on your back until you are reached by your guide. In such cases you should remain calm and trust the safety instructions of professional tour guides.
Again, if the safety instructions are followed, it is very likely that your kayak tour will be the best water experience of your life!
Is it possible to kayak in winter?
But of course! In recent years, water sports have also proved their worth in winter. In winter it is possible to enjoy the idyllic silence in the middle of a lake while the snow-covered shores pass by. At this time of the year very few water sports enthusiasts are still on the water, which is why you can experience an incomparable peace and quiet on the water.
But the icy temperatures and cold water do not deter you at all, because it is all a question of equipment! Wrapped in warm neoprene clothes, a dry suit, gloves and a cap, your feet protected by warm and waterproof shoes and a warm tea or a delicious soup in your luggage as a snack: off you go!
The preparations are a bit more elaborate, but it’s all worth it! To go kayaking in winter is a breathtaking moment when nature and all its beauty are in harmony and you can experience the wonderful peace and quiet on the water.
Even in winter, of course, the safety regulations should be observed: wear a life jacket, don’t paddle alone, join a tour as a beginner and pay attention to the weather conditions, then nothing stands in the way of your winter magic on the water!
The term “kayak” means “the boat of a hunter”. Many ancient peoples who settled near water used the small boat for hunting on the sea, rivers and lakes.
The Inuit, for example, hunt in icy waters with the help of these agile boats. The winter people also filter as the inventors of the kayaks. Finds prove that kayaks have been built and used for at least 2000 years.
The tradition of elongated boats, which were mostly designed for individuals, thus reaches far into our past.
From the 19th century onwards, the kayak also came to Europe, where it was used for all kinds of training, discovery tours and water crossings. In the course of the century more and more people enjoyed the manoeuvrable boats.
Finally, in the 20th century, the kayak experienced a great boom as a sports boat. The first white-water rafting trips were made, the kayak was used on the one hand in the wild sea, in calm lakes and in raging rivers. Kayaking was admitted as a discipline at the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936 and various manufacturing methods for kayaks are tried out.
Particularly valuable: since kayaks are made of plastic, they are not only affordable for everyone, but their extra-low weight makes them ideal for the emerging types of kayak paddling. The manoeuvrable vehicle makes it possible to adapt to various types of water and sports practised there.
The initial commercial vehicle, which provided a livelihood for many peoples for hunting and transport, has developed over time into a true sports all-rounder.
It is precisely this diversity, whether on exciting whitewater tours, wilderness exploration or on smooth lakes, that makes kayaking so popular and popular.
The kayak’s incredible versatility makes it the perfect companion for sporting water activities. For several years now, various disciplines have developed, which are distinguished especially by the water conditions and the degree of difficulty.
Decisive for your kayak style is where and in which waters you want to kayak. On the other hand, your interests can also determine the location and conditions of your preferred kayaking discipline.
In any case, it is important to know: Kayaking is not just kayaking!
The guided tours are particularly suitable for beginners, as they mostly take you through lakes, canals or large rivers. The special thing about these tours is that you don’t have to overcome any or only a few obstacles and the main focus is on experiencing the unique and mostly untouched nature around the banks.
As no special technical skills are required yet, this is the perfect introduction to kayaking or a great way to balance the stressful everyday life. Paddling through these rather calm waters is an active way of experiencing the environment up close and is particularly suitable for family outings or leisurely yet sporty trips.
Somewhat confusing for German-speaking people, sea kayaking refers to paddling in coastal areas in the sea. Here you paddle on the open sea, sometimes near the coast, and try to steer your kayak through the water in accordance with the tides and currents.
You will have the opportunity to explore remote coastal areas and in the right places you can even come into contact with flora and fauna of unspoilt areas. Sea kayaking requires good technical skills and safety in handling the kayak. Because of the surf, the different water conditions and the currents you should already have some experience in kayaking.
But the experience is certainly breathtaking and in the right places the ultimate opportunity to get in touch with the wild but beautiful marine world. The extra adrenaline rush is provided by the waves coming up near the coast, on which experienced kayakers ride along the coasts.
In the meantime, this has developed into a real sub-discipline in sea kayaking: In “kayak surfing” professional paddlers plunge into the big waves.
White water kayak
This discipline offers you the greatest challenges in kayaking. You will make your way through raging rivers, narrow and heavy currents and sometimes even over thunderous waterfalls. Whitewater kayaking has a very special appeal, because you enter the wild rapids and manoeuvre the kayak between rocks, steep slopes and rapids.
In order to be able to whitewater kayak, you must have basic knowledge of kayaking. Whitewater kayaking is not suitable for beginners, although on beginners’ tours it is sometimes possible to negotiate smaller obstacles that resemble the style of whitewater kayaking.
Small waterfalls or short, easier whitewater sections can be experienced on beginner routes when accompanied by a guide. White water kayaking offers a real adrenaline rush and is an absolute must for daring kayakers.
Freestyle riding, which is usually combined with white water or surfing, is all about little games and tricks with the kayak. This discipline is only performed by thoroughbred professionals.
The tricks include somersaults, as well as back flips and other daring manoeuvres that require a lot of practice, experience and skill. It is definitely worth watching the professionals!