guided river kayaking tour on the burnt river in Kawartha Lakes area in Ontario

Escape on a river kayaking tour

As a Kawarthas Lakes resident or cottager who has taken a kayak for a paddle on a lake you might think that kayaking on a river would be the same but it’s a totally different experience.

“On a river kayaking tour there is no boat traffic which eliminates noise and waves. There are minimal cottages too. You feel like you’re more in the wilderness,” says Sarah Crowther who operates Cottage Country Kayak Tours with her husband, Scott Tomlinson.

How Cottage Country Kayak Tours began

“We had this idea for Cottage Country Kayak Tours for years,” explains Scott. “Based on our own river kayaking trips we wanted to take others and show them what’s out there. Most people have kayaked on lakes, we think they should experience river paddles too.”

So far, Scott and Sarah are glad they made the decision to start their guided river kayaking tour company.

“It’s been amazing to share the experience of river kayaking with others,” says Sarah. “We’ve had such positive feedback. It’s been very rewarding.”

3 river kayaking tours to choose from

The tranquility that river kayaking offers is the reason why every excursion that Cottage Country Kayak Tours offers is on a river.

“We love being out on the water. The escape into nature. It’s peaceful and quiet,” says Scott Tomlinson. “We’ve picked rivers that we’ve paddled multiple times and know very well.”

The company offers three tours of Kawartha Lakes rivers. They are suitable for paddlers aged 13 and up.

Kayaking Tour of York River – Level 1 Difficulty
– Ideal for beginners. Relaxing day on the water.
– Approx. 4 to 5 hour paddle.
– Location: near Bancroft, ON.

Kayaking Tour of Eels Creek – Level 2 Difficulty
– Creek is intricate and narrow. Includes short portages.
– Approx. 4 to 5 hour paddle.
– Location: near Apsley, ON.

Kayaking Tour of Burnt River – Level 3 Difficulty
– Includes portages.
– Approx. 7 to 8 hour paddle.
– Location: near Burnt River, ON.

Led by experienced guides

Each of the river kayaking tours offered by Cottage Country Kayak Tours is limited to a maximum of 6 paddlers and accompanied by 2 guides, Sarah and Scott, both of whom are highly experienced kayakers.

“We’ve spent several years on the water – both of us grew up around lakes – the last 6 years we’ve really got into kayaking, both on flat water and whitewater,” says Sarah.

“And Scott is a Level 1 kayak instructor who teaches basic safety and paddling skills.”

Why a river kayaking tour is excellent for beginners

If you’ve never kayaked before but have always wanted to, a river kayaking tour is a great way to introduce yourself to the activity.

Sarah and Scott have incorporated elements into their river kayaking tours to make the experience an enjoyable one for beginners.

For one thing, the river kayaks they use are shorter than lake kayaks so they’re easier to manoeuver.

Their kayaks are also very stable with adjustable seats, and they have kayaks to accommodate various body types.

During their river kayaking tours, there are two breaks and one lunch break, so paddlers are never in their kayaks for more than an hour at a time.

People are always assisted with their kayaks, so they’re very easy to get in and out of.

And because each one of their kayaking tours head down river, the flow of the river helps propel paddlers and their kayaks forward.

“Everyone we’ve taken on our river kayaking tours has loved it, even the people who have been nervous to start,” says Sarah.

What you could see on your river kayaking tour

As you gently navigate your kayak along the river, you’ll have the opportunity to learn a little history about the area, and see beautiful scenery, vegetation and the possibility of wildlife.

“So far on our tours we have spotted beavers, a fawn, raccoons, snakes, turtles—one time we all watched a heron fishing in a waterfall, it was so neat!” recalls Sarah.

What if you’ve never portaged a kayak before?

On the Eels Creek and Burnt River kayak tours there is some portaging required.

“The portages are roughly 10 to 150 metres long,” explains Sarah. “Our heaviest kayak only weighs 55 pounds, so with two people carrying it, portaging is very manageable.

What’s for lunch?

“For lunch break, Cottage Country Kayak Tours provides each paddler with a water bottle, juice box, granola bar, fruit bar, an apple and crackers,” says Scott.

If you feel you will want a little more to complete your lunch you are welcome to bring along your own sandwich.

What about washrooms?

There are no public washrooms along any of the three river routes the tours head down. If you need to go, the forest is your restroom. Cottage Country Kayak Tours provides toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

What equipment is supplied for the river kayaking tour?

  • Kayak
  • Paddle
  • Personal Flotation Device (PFD) i.e., life jacket
  • Marine safety kit
  • 5-litre dry bag to store your items in the hatch of the kayak

What you need to bring on your river kayaking tour

  • Water shoes or good fitting shoes (no flip flops) so you have proper footing for portaging
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Extra water bottle
  • Sandwich

Where do you meet for the river kayaking tour?

All participants in a Cottage Country Kayak Tours outing park their vehicles and meet at the end point of the tour. Everyone then piles into a shuttle and are taken to the starting point of the river kayak tour. When the group reaches the end of their tour, they exit the river, get in their vehicles and head home.

To book a river kayaking tour visit the Cottage Country Kayak Tours website.

Photo credit: Cottage Country Kayak Tours