Whether you love the outdoors or you’re simply looking for something new and exciting to try your hand at, whitewater kayaking is a great way to travel, learn something fun and meet new people. Though this extreme sport takes some practice, once you get the hang of it there’s no end to the amount of things you can do, from entering competitions to visiting picturesque rivers with amazing natural landscapes. This is an excellent hobby for anyone who loves a challenge and enjoys setting goals to reach towards. Plus, whitewater kayaking can be a good way to get exercise while engaging with the world around you, which is a wonderful self-esteem booster.

The term “whitewater” refers to the speedy white rapids that the kayaker maneuvers through to gain momentum, but you don’t have to start there. Many newcomers to this sport begin in gentle waters and then eventually progress to heavy rapids whenever they’re ready. Two of the most popular types of kayaking include river running and playboating. River running is very complicated and advanced, whereas playboating is a more freestyle kind of kayaking that allows for many stunts and tricks, which is where contests come into play. Contests are a great place to meet other kayakers, and some even form teams and get together to enjoy the water.

If you’re interested in trying whitewater kayaking but you don’t know where to begin, a good first step would be to look for classes or an instructor to help you learn basic kayaking skills and safety. Getting in touch with the right instructor will give you a foundation to build up from, plus the chance to ask questions and get a feel for the water.

Best of all, if you have friends or family interested in tagging along, kayaking is a sport that can be done in groups so you’ll have wonderful memories to look back on together. With the rise of waterproof digital cameras, many kayakers are finding nowadays that they’re able to get some absolutely beautiful nature shots by strapping a camera to a jacket or other fixture, so there’s even the opportunity for you to try out photography on the side. The option to choose strictly urban or rural locations for kayaking is entirely up to you.

Many kayakers visit city rivers, but this can be more a advanced experience and certain bodies of water have restrictions as to who is legally permitted to boat there, so to be on the safe side, always check beforehand when planning to kayak in any specific river. Dressing for the weather is also important. Kayaking is a year-round sport so if you’re planning to go out during the winter, wear lightweight but warm gear and a life-jacket to keep yourself warm and safe.

Some of the Many Benefits to Whitewater Kayaking:

– Relaxation: Whether you’ve had a busy and draining week at work, family troubles or a recent setback in life, kayaking is a positive and fun way to unwind and let go of your burdens for awhile. The refreshing sound of those rushing rapids, the sun on your face and the wind in your hair, what’s not to love?

– Friendship: There’s no better way to meet lifelong friends than by bonding over a hobby you all enjoy. Later on, you’ll have loads of interesting kayak stories to tell, and this can be a great conversation starter!

– Reconnecting with the Environment: Have you ever felt like society these days is just way too bogged down by cell phones, social media and glowing screens sometimes? Kayaking lets you escape back into nature for a while and get a breath of fresh air, taking in all the natural beauty that this big ol’ world of ours has to offer.

– Culture and Travel: Ever wanted to take a dip in the crisp, clear waters of Nova Scotia? Or what about the warm, sunny rapids of Florida? No matter where you live, as long as you can find a good fast-moving river, kayaking lets you love whatever you choose, whether you opt to stay local or branch out to new locations. This is a great chance to also interact with other cultures and learn new history about wherever you go.

Want to add one last touch to the whitewater kayaking experience? Start a journal and write about all your dreams, goals and hopes for your new hobby so you’ll always have a record of the many things you want to achieve! Glue in photographs, collect maps and pamphlets and add in anything else you’d like so you can personalize it and make it your very own.

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I am Gigi Orgera, physician and lifestyle consultant. I love to guide and encourage people on the creation of the life of their dreams by enjoying their personal journeys.

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