The main fundamental difference between kayaks and canoes :
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and Instruction Tips For safe canoeing or kayaking, you must
always: -primarily to show prudence, responsibility and common
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Canoeing and Kayaking - Stories, Boating Trips, Tips and Experiences in around the world
ARTICLES - STORIES, TIPS
wilderness canoe/kayak trips
Boating experiences in Nepal
and Sri Lanka, Mahaweli River
Boating ...a not so ordinary way to Experience Sri Lanka!
Sri Lanka is blessed with water, an ocean that surrounds the island, rivers, tanks and other waterways. Most of them flow through the amazing terrains. The lush hill country with its tea plantations, gushing waterfalls, the arid zone where many of the national parks are found and of-course we cannot forget the fact that we are surrounded by the Indian Ocean!
The island has always used boats and canoes for transportation. Fast forward to the 21st century, we are now using boats for leisure basedactivities. Canoe and Kayaking isan eco-friendly and exciting way to see and experience the island. There is the whole whale and dolphin watching experience which can be done on sea kayaks. Island hopping and camping on deserted stretches of beaches is a luxury that very few have experienced. All possible in Sri Lanka. The multi day expedition on Sri Lanka's longest river, the Mahaweli is a must do for the adventurous at heart. Here you will paddle through the Wasgamuwa National Park and have a glimpse of Sri Lanka's awesome wildlife from an angle that cannot be compared to anything else. Bird life is immense on these excursions. There's no motor to power the boat, just you and nature. The disturbance to animals is minimal thus a better chance to see wild life in their most natural state. A boat ride on the Mahaweli in the environs of Kandy could be a completely different experience, surrounded by lush, hilly terrain and slowly gliding down enjoying the life on the river as well as the villages. Othergreat River Expeditions-both multi-day and half day excursions can be done on the Bentota River and Madhu Ganga. You have the chance to witness life by the riverbank in scenic villages. On the Bentota river get lost amidst the mangrove swamps and spot aquatic birds such as herons, kingfishers, cormorants as well as the monitors and crocodiles that wade through the water. Madu Ganga river is a shallow water body in south-west Sri Lanka, which enters the sea at Balapitiya. This beautiful river, is considered as Sri Lanka's second largest wetland consisting of 32 islands including two main islands. On the Madhu Ganga, do take time to spot a Water Monitorandabundantbird life. Its extremely relaxing and a pleasant journey through mangroves which surround you with astounding beauty. For a bit more thrill, you can try white water rafting and kayaking. The Kithulgala river where the movie Bridge on the River Kwai was filmed is a great place to learn the sport. The entire stretch is easily manageable. A number of professional kayakers now visit Sri Lanka and have left with very good reviews. This country has some world class runs. The nexttime you wish to experience Sri Lanka, why not skip the traditional safari jeep and do it by boat. You will certainly have the best experiences in your life!
Visit www.discoverborderiands.com Borderlands is a very experienced company that offers a wide array of boating experiences in Sri Lanka and Nepal. Wade Campbell is certified world class outdoorsman.
You may purchase all boating gear from - The Edge, in Colombo.
Words and Photos: Dilsiri Welikala
A lovely Thomas story about a risky venture, great white under the kayak
The dark shape that loomed just below the water surface made the kayak appear tiny. What a few hours ago had seemed a brilliant plan for studying sharks now felt like utter folly, just a few centimetres of yellow plastic separated me from a huge female great white. Though experience had taught me that words such as 'cautious' and 'curious' more accurately describe the great white's character than 'aggressive' and 'unpredictable', it was an unnerving moment. At first, she circled me from a distance, but soon became comfortable enough to swim to within a metre of the kayak, eyeballing me from the water. As I had hoped, she then continued on her way, regarding me as neither threat nor prey. Cautiously. I followed her. One thing my colleagues and I had quickly learned was to paddle gently and smoothly. Jerky movements trigger sharks' predatory instincts, and the fester we paddled the more intent they became on tracking us.
Why would we embark on such a risky venture? You'd think that such an infamous animal would be one of the best-studied on Earth. Surely there are coundess scholarly volumes on every facet of the great white's life? Incredibly, there aren't. Even in South Africa, where large numbers of sharks occur at very accessible locations, scientists have garnered.
At first she circled me from a distance, but soon approached within a metre of the kayak.
only the most basic knowledge of the species. For example, no one knows where or how they mate, or even how they give birth,., at least until recently. Lately. I've been involved in some daring research off Africa's southernmost tip to track and observe great white sharks as unobtrusively as possible. This has allowed us to throw some light on the complex social and migratory behaviour of this secretive fish. Our kayak research was sparked by something that Michael Scholl and I witnessed in the southern hemisphere summer of 2003. We were on board our research boat monitoring sharks in Shark Bay, an inshore area just a few kilometres north of Dyer Island and Shark Alley, when we were greeted with a scene that could hare been spliced straight from the film Jaws. A long, shadowy fonn was cruising close to a sandy beach packed with swimmers and sun-worshippers. Wc quickly moved inshore to investigate and watched as a steely-grey dorsal fin punctured die glassy surface. What was unmistakably a great white shade headed into water so shallow that it left whiriwinds of sand in its wake. Just tens of metres from a group of bathers, it turned and swam along the beach away from them. What was it up to? The very next day we encountered three more great whites in the same area, so we began daily surveys. On some of our 10km-long transects, we encountered over 20 different great whites, an astonishing density. Moreover, diese sharks differed from those that we had studied during the winter months offshore at Dyer Island. More than 95 per cent of the sharks we encountered inshore were females, while the Dyer Island populations were more balanced at 60 per cent female and 40 per cent male. The sharks were also made up of a combination of distinctly larger individuals (over 4m in length) and smaller sharks (less than 2.5m). with very few individuals in between. In addition, female sharks here exhibited fresh bite wounds around their pectoral fins and gill areas. Taking all this into account, we constructed three hypodieses as to why they were gathering so dose to the shore. First, we speculated that the sharks were attracted by a seasonally abundant food source. But though we encountered some fish and seals, much of the inshore area resembled an undersea desert with little for sharks to feed on. The sharks also ignored 'chum' slicks from cage-diving boats, pushed inshore by wind and currents, swimming through them as if something was preventing them from hunting.
This led to our second hypothesis. In some shark species, feeding is inhibited during pregnancy and after birth to prevent mothers from eating their offspring. A white shark birth has never been witnessed, but the smallest sharks we spotted inshore were 1.2 to 1.5m long - the estimated size of a newborn. Was this where great whites give birth? Yet this theory' does not explain the fresh scars seen on the females in the inshore regions. If great white sharks mate in the same way as most other shark species, with the male biting and holding the female around her pectoral and dorsal fins to insert his claspers, this could account for the scars. However, if this was a mating ground, why were there so few males around? Armed with more questions than answers, we needed more direct behavioural observations to confirm our suspicions. Our usual motorised research vessel was of little use, however, as it was unable to enter very shallow water. Plus, the electromagnetic discharges and vibrations emitted by the outboard engines disturbed the sharks. They were either persistendy attracted to or repelled by the boat. Without the funds needed to study the fish from the air, we settled for a non-motorised mode of transport that was manoeuverable and quiet - enter our sea kayaks. Using these crafts, we have been able to follow the sharks, keeping visual contact with identified individuals and getting to know their movements. Now, after three years of studying the sharks, we have documented unusually high levels of social interactions for what has always been
The sharks swam straight through the 'chum' slicks as if something was preventing them from hunting.
considered a solitary species. The sharks methodically swim lengths up and down, parallel to the beach, and their paths cross each other at frequencies that are unlikely to be just random. When two sharks meet, they swim ever-tighter cirdes around one another and will then often follow each other along the beach over large distances. All these social interactions have occurred at a very slow and relaxed pace, without any signs of aggression or obvious competition. Could this be a prelude to mating? It will take more time in the field to know exacdy what the sharks are doing - and the biggest obstacle we face is the short time they spend inshore. After just a few months, the sharks suddenly disappear from the shallows and, while some head to Dyer Island to hunt Cape fur seal pups, many vanish completely. It would help us enormously to know where they go. But to probe this mystery, we needed the assistance of our fellow scientists, who use more sophisticated technology than sea kayaks. Enter Ramon Bonfil of the Wildlife Conservation Society. Using satellite tagging (see box, above), he was about to astonish us all.
CROSSING THE INDIAN OCEAN
It's 2& February 2004, and dawn is about to break over die eastern fringes of die Indian Ocean. The western coast of Australia lies just a few kilometres to die west A light morning breeze pushes ripples across the surface of the deep blue water. Suddenly, something rushes to the surface, shattering the serenity of the moment. A small, elongated canister equipped with an antenna bobs up, and begins transmitting information gadiered during the past three months spent largely underwater. Satellites orbiting 850km above pick up the signal and send it around the world. A few hours later. Ramon Bonfil arrives at his New York office and nearly chokes on his breakfast bagel. He begins to compose the following eniad message: "Nicole has gone to Australia!" Nicole, a now 3.8m-long great white shark, was first sighted ar»d identified in 1999 near Dyer Island. She followed a regular visitation pattern, returning to the Dyer Island and Shark Bay area every year between July and December. But her whereabouts during the first half of the year were a mystery. In 2001, a team of researchers showed that white sharks from South Africa were genetically closely linked to white sharks off Australia - hinting at the possibility that some individuals, such as Nicole, may cross the Indian Ocean.
If this were true, it would have major implications for great white conservation. Before 2004, great whites were protected in Soudi African and Namibian waters, but were still legally caught in most other territorial and all international waters for their jaws, teeth and fins. With the species not listed on CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, little could be done to stop the exploitation of great white sharks. With the next CITES meeting looming in 2004. Bonfil and Mike Meyer of South Africa's Marine and Coastal Management wanted to provide clear evidence that national protective measures were inadequate, because South Africa's sharks frequently ventured into unprotected waters. An extensive satellite-tagging project was implemented to gather the evidence. Nicole was tagged on 7 November 2003 with a PAT satellite tag programmed to remain attached to her until 28 February 2004 - which is when it bobbed to the surface near
Nicole's amazing 11,000km journey represents the first recorded transoceanic migration for this species.
Australia. Her amazing 11 000 km journey represents the first recorded transoceanic migration for this shark species. She also broke odier records, diving regularly to depths of 980m. where the water temperature was a mere 3-4°C. Near the coast she spent two thirds of her time swimming at depths shallower than 5m, whereas during her oceanic journey, she swam up and down between the surface and the deep, spending 18 per cent of her time at depths of between 500 and 750m, and 61 per cent between the surface and half a metre. Nicole travelled at a minimum speed of 4-7kph, which compares with that of some of die fastest-swimming tuna species, noted for their sustained high-speed migrations. As if all that wasn't spectacular enough on 20 August 2004 she returned to South Africa. Sitting on our boat under an over sky. we saw a fin appear in the milky water 20m behind us. Michael immediately identified the shark as Nicole - her fin has triangular notches in the mid-section of the trailing edge, one large and a smaller indentation near the base, and a shredder and step-shaped upper portion. In just over nine mondis, Nicole had swim just over 22,000km....
BBC WILDLIFE SHOP
South Africa's Great White Shark by Thomas P Peschak and Michael C. Scholl (New Holland. ISBN 1770073825. £9.99). Order on p73, quoting code WL0906/24
If you want to "Feeling inspired" read below.
A Story About Todd Kirk six-day kayaking tour in Northern Patagonia with Altue Sea Kayaking
Enjoyed a wild, rugged and remote landscape - stay inspired and have amazing days of sea kayaking within this stunning Patagonia landscape.
Spirit of adventure
See full text below, or click on images to view actual story
Sixty minutes after arriving at Santiago's sleek and modern airport and having survived the fastest taxi Journoy of my life, I lounged pool side with a cool bevorago. Under the mid-day sun and coated in sun block, I reflected on the circumstances and minimal planning that had landod me many thousands of miles from London, England.
A few weeks earlier. I had learned thai my current contract job was about to come to an end. Sitting at my desk thoso final days and while surfing the net. I discovered thot groat tickets were still available to see the bond 'Coldplay' at a smallish venue in Santiago. One 'google' scorch and a few clicks later at www.seakayakchile.com, I discovered that there was also availability on a six-day kayaking tour in Northern Patagonia with Altue Sea Kayaking. Feeling inspired, a plan of sorts started to form. Four days and throo memorable gigs attor my arrival, I waited for the shuttle bus on a warm February morning in Puerto Monti (a one and a half hour (light and 600 milos trom Santiago). While waiting Bob. my new acquaintance, and I discussed the paddling, hiking and hot springs thai had compelled both ot us to journey to this remote corner of the world. Bob had just arrived from New York State and was looking forward to a week outside the classrooms of his school. The shuttle soon arrived and wo met Francisco, our guide for the week and the owner of Allue Sea Kayaking. The adventure began as wo travelled over dusty roads to Hornopiren. I slept for much of this undulating journey and as I drifted In and oul of consciousness (usually prompted by the banging of my head on the seat in front of me). I enjoyed a wild, rugged and remote landscape occasionally populated by small coastal villages. For most of the journey, the Andes towered on one side ot the van while the inviting Pacific glimmered on the olher. After an hour or two wo stopped and waited to board a ferry (or a short passage across an inlet. While wailing for the ferry. I explored the tiny picturesque village and was frustrated at being unable to find a badly needed cup of colfee. It soon became apparent that I was now very far (rom such conveniences. Having previously enjoyed a couple of kayaking trips without the benefit of a support boat, it was a first time troot lo boord a 50-foot vessel where we could comfortably store our gear without the need to compress everything into a kayak. After a short cruise to a beautiful cove, we stopped for lunch and enjoyed o swim in the crystal clear fjord. Lunch was delicious and it was both surprising and appetising to see so many dishes being served from the tiny kitchen galley. Francisco hod even managed to get gluten-free papas (tortilla wraps) shipped-up from Santiago for my lunches. I knew then that meal times were likely going to be an event that we would all look forward to each day. Over lunch, wo began to get to know each other as a group. We were comprised of a Swedish couple, a Canadian couple, three Chilean women, one American guy. and mo (a Canadian). Two additional Americans would join us a few hours later after being significantly delayed by their flight.
The group was further supported by Francisco and Fetipo - our guides, and the ship's crew. The next day, after awakening to the sound of sea birds and the gentle lapping of the ocean on the shoreline. I felt rofroshed. keen to start the first full day of paddling, and also very hungry. Broakfost ottered several options including excellent coffee and scrambled eggs. I also tried and instantly became a fan of a spread called manjor', which is boiled condensed milk and very tasty on bread and crackers as well as great fuel for a day of kayaking. Francisco, having already evaluated our paddling skills, suggested that Mossiol and I share a double kayak. Fortunately. Massiel know some English which made up for my complete inability with most languages. Soon offer and with my new kayak partner, we paddled toward the sheltered and calm Quintupou fjord where the German battleship Dresden is said to have hid during WW 1 while completing emergency repairs. We paddled tor much of the day through calm waters while floating by steep mountain slopes, countless waterfalls, lush temperate rainforest and many of the 100-plus species of birds that call this beautiful area homo. While we paddled, Massiel pointed out many ol the passing birds and trees while teaching me their Chilean names. In return. I prompted her with a friendly splash now and then, when there wos too litllo paddling happening up from. After an amazing day of kayaking within this stunning landscape, Francisco dished out small glasses of pisco sour to each of us while we chatted on tho upper deck of the vessel. Pisco sour Is a great Chilean cocktail made out ol pisco. a liquor similar to rum but distilled from grapes. It is also very good before dinner. That socond night, as the group began to settle in. we dined late into tho evening while also enjoying excellent Chilean beer and wine.
By the time that were finally ready to return to the campsite via the now familiar zodiac limo ride, the tide was quickly receding. As part of Ihe second group to be returned to shore, wo spotted the torch lights from those ahead and followed in that direction.
Traversing over rocky land occasionally mixed wilh receding tidal water. we eventually met up wilh the first group who were not at our campsite but completely lost in tho dark Patagonian night."The spirit of adventure" wo all thought among other things, as we took stock of how many torches we had and how many hours of light wo had loft In tho batteries. As a group of eleven individuals, we had many views on where tho campsite had gone. Eventually after lengthy discussion, wo camo up with a plan. Thonklully and soon alter, we found our tents! Having passed our first challenge together, wo wearily climbed Into our sleeping bags for tho night.
Paddling on day 3 as a group that had bonded over the previous evening, we continued through the tjords alongside ancient temperate raintorest that few others have ever seen. Passing a large pod of sea lions, we saw many pups at play and a huge alpha male surrounded by his many supporters. While we watched the sea lions go about their daily routine onshore, they watched us play in our kayaks at soa. "The good life" I thought to myself, which seemed equally applicable to the sea lions as it did to us.
A little later. I felt as content as those sea lions had appeared to be, while I soaked in Cahuelmo Hot Springs. All ol the pools were pleasantly hot and slightly sulphuric in odour. I eventually found one that was incredibly similar to being In a bath tub but with a better view than you could ever hope for. Alternating lime in the hot pools with quick plunges into the cool fjord sea water did wonders for those aching muscles. Tired and relaxed, we eventually paddled back to our floating restaurant where wo completed the day with an especially delicious chicken curry. The next morning we paddled, hiked and visited the tiny village of Huinay. and discovered the work that was being completed at a scientilic marine centre. Huinay. is the site of a large school. Children from far and wide are brought here by boat on a Monday and returned home again on a Friday. It was very quiet when we visited though as it was their summer holidays. We met a woman who owned the local store (a closet-sized cupboard on the front of her house). She kindly showed us around the greenhouses and gardens that surrounded her home while seeming completely happy to have this unusual interruption to her day. Later, when we were getting ready to leave. I noticed an oil painting that her son had painted and that was for sale. Although not the most appropriate accessory for a sea kayaking trip, it eventually found its way to my kitchen where it looks pretty good.
After a few hours of paddling and hiking in light drizzle, we were all content to retrcat into the modern comfort of the marine centre which was part of the San Ignacio del Huinay Foundation. Francisco had somehow persuaded a very hung-over Aussie marine biologist (big leaving party the night before apparently) to provide our group with an overview of the work that was being completed at the centre. She told us about a new type of coral that had recently been discovered in the local tjords and about other species in the area that likely still remained to be identified and studied. Tho centre was more like a futuristic eco-lodge than a nonprofitable science station and was complete with self-generated electricity, huge open fireplaces and even flushing toilets - a real luxury at this point, believe me. A few hours later and under clearing skies, we enjoyed a memorable beach fire while sipping pisco sour, beer and wine. We chatted and laughed until late Into the evening warmed by our fire and the blanket of stars that covered us from above.
To get there, we walked through pasture lands and lush primeval raintorest simitar to but dcnsor and perhaps more varied than what you might find on Vancouver Island in Canada. The hot springs included several pools across varying elevations with each offering a different level ol warmth. Just a few feet away, a cold mountain river rushed to the fjord bolow. Alter combining long soaks In tho natural hot pools with quick dips in the river, a state of bliss was soon apparent throughout our group.
Hours later and as the light started to tado. wo returned to our campsite feeling refreshed, calm and part of the Patagonian landscape. On our final day and during the return voyage to Hornopir6n, the mood within the group becamo unusually quiet and contemplative as we reflected on our kayaking tour and where we would each bo heading next. Paddling in this pristine location with Altue Sea Kayaking had proven to be an excellent adventure holiday and one that I plan to enjoy again.
Tho local knowledge, delicious food and warm hospitality provided by Francisco and his crew, complemented the paddling, hiking and hot springs that we had all travelled here to enjoy. An international group of diverse backgrounds, we shared quality time together in a truly beautiful location.
As we said our goodbyes, exchanged email addresses and parted. I am sure thai I would have boon unbearably sad tor that to have been the last day of my holiday. Fortunately, it wasn't, as my new Iriend Massiel and I had agreed to go hiking for another week together in neighbouring Pumalin Park, before returning to Santiago. All I had to do was find an internet cafe to amend my return Rights to London. My holiday continued in the same way thai it hod begun - through a moment of inspiration. www.seakayakchile.com