The Southern French Alps is a mecca for paddlers with a huge range of white water rivers of all grades to choose from. White water kayaking in the Southern Alps offers something for everyone from novice paddlers right through to hard core extreme kayakers.
Choose from a big bouncy high volume descent on the Durance river, a hairy paddle through the steep sided Bonne gorge, a technical rocky descent on the Souloise, a fun grade 3 run on the Severaisse or go for an intensive skills session on the slalom course on the Drac!
Unlike rafting or white water sports in inflatable boats, you can’t just step into a white water kayak and go down a river. White water kayaking requires a minimum skill level which can take quite a lot of time, determination and practice to master.
Basic skills include support strokes to stop yourself going upside down, rolling for when you do go upside down, sweep strokes, skulling and forward and backward paddling for steering and controlling your kayak. It isn’t just all arms and shoulders either, good kayakers use their hips, thighs, stomach and shoulder and arm muscles for full control over their boat. The boat and paddle should feel like extensions of your own body in the water !
You also need to understand white water, know what a stopper and an eddy are and be able to read the water to choose the best line down a river.
Safety on the river is a must and basic skills and safety equipment are essential for any paddler. You should never paddle on your own and should have confidence in your fellow paddlers. If you are taking out less experienced people than yourself you need to be sure you have the competences to look after them on the river.
The best way to learn these skills is to get out paddling with a group or ideally join a course! The best place to do this is where it is warm and sunny and the river levels are pretty much stable and guaranteed – the Southern French Alps is perfect!!
It is also important to go with a company who have professional and ideally local instructors or if not local, who know the rivers intimately. Rivers can radically change their course with new and different obstacles and challenges every year so it is not always safe to rely on guide books, especially older ones.
At Undiscovered Mountains, we offer, two Kayak the Alps Trips. One is aimed at beginners and starts on flat water with the aim of moving on to gentle white water and doing a full river descent by the end of the week.
The second trip is aimed at intermediate paddlers. Some people join this trip to kayak with a group of like minded paddlers and some people join it to hone their skills. We can cater for all abilities on this trip from grade 2/3 paddlers right through to grade 5.
For more information about Undiscovered Mountains and white water kayaking in the Southern Alps, please contact Sally on +44 (0)345 009 8401 or [email protected] Please mention that you found Undiscovered Mountains through AWE365 to get the best deal.