5 International Whitewater Kayaking Destinations

In days gone by travelling further a field to go on paddling trips was the preserve of just a few hardened expedition paddlers. But easier world travel has opened up a wealth of epic destinations for those looking for a BIG trip…


What can be more exciting than paddling on the roof of the world? The truth is that it is surprisingly easy to organise a trip to the mountain kingdom of Nepal. Its rivers, although big and powerful, are fantastic fun and usually forgiving and they offer some superb multi-day paddling. There are loads of operators who offer guiding, coaching and boat and equipment hire, and there’s now even a kayak store in the city of Pokhara. You can go raft supported and paddle a lower volume play boat allowing you to take advantage of the rivers many play features. Or you can go self-supported and carry all your gear in your boats. As well as the great paddling Nepal has a mystical and intriguing culture and, of course, a backdrop of the biggest mountains in the world!


The wilderness and mountains of Canada are proven destinations for both whitewater and touring paddlers alike. With a literal goldmine of world-class rivers, such as the Ottawa, the Rouge, Madawaska and the Slave, to name just a few, it’s no surprise that it’s so popular. For those looking for a true wilderness touring trip in the spiritual home of the canoe the Bowron Lakes circuit provides an extended paddle trip out into the heart of the Canadian wilderness.

Africa, the White Nile

The White Nile and the Zambezi. The White Nile is in Uganda and boasts some of the biggest river features in the world. As such it’s a powerful draw for the very best whitewater paddlers looking to perfect their big air freestyle moves on its giant waves. It’s deceptively easy to get to the UK too; in fact, it’s quicker to get to the White Nile than it is to drive to the Austrian Alps! And don’t be put off by its huge reputation either. Yes it’s big, but it’s deceptively friendly and the worst that you can expect is a swim in warm water, so it’s also a good place for intermediate paddlers to improve their big water skills. Every year the Nile Freestyle Festival sees the number of visiting paddlers rise as they battle it out on Nile Special, one of the best waves anywhere on the planet. There are a wealth of awesome local paddlers too and it’s a joy to watch them ripping it up on their river and putting the best to shame. Surprisingly the lower sections of the White Nile can offer some excellent touring paddling and it’s an area that local operators are keen to expand on.

New Zealand

A veritable paradise for lovers of outdoor adventure sports New Zealand has whitewater excitement, touring and sea kayaking in abundance. Made up of the North Island and the South Island it’s famous amongst whitewater paddlers for its heli-runs, where the shuttle into the river is a helicopter! It has plenty of fantastic coastlines too and the Abel Tasman National Park is a favourite destination for visiting sea kayakers.


Like its northern neighbour, the USA is blessed with more than its fair share of beautiful wilderness paddling, mountains and wild rivers. Outdoor sports are pretty well established and it’s pretty easy to put together a trip. Boats and equipment are easy to hire and there are plenty of outfitters who offer guiding services, coaching and advice. It’s a big place, though, so you’ll either need a lot of time or pick your chosen paddling region before you arrive.

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