Do you think you need a lot of courage to go on a hike with your child, and even more so to arrange a real family kayak rafting? In fact, everything is not that difficult. Even if you've never considered the river as a walking space before, it's worth a try. After all, children are a great excuse to try a lot for the first time.
To feel like a water tourist, you don't have to go to the distant Karelian, Ural, Altai rivers popular with experienced rafters. An excellent option to try your hand is a one-day or two-day trip along a country river with one overnight stay.
Rafting season is tentatively opened in May and closed in September. But it all depends on the weather conditions. The main thing is that the children are not cold to spend the night in a tent, that is, the temperature at night should be above 13-14 degrees.
Experienced water tourists take children from the age of two on hikes, but it is still recommended to raft with children from 3 years old. It is important to understand whether your child will be able to sit calmly and enjoy walking on the water for quite a long time. It is better to seat the child in the middle, between the adult rowers, so that he is under supervision.
You can learn rowing from any age, and children from 10 years old can already be entrusted with a separate single kayak. It can be tied to a parent's boat or released on its own in full view of adults on calm stretches of the path, clear of branches and rifts.
But in fact, the journey begins already at the stage of choosing a route, it needs to be studied in detail using satellite maps. You can find detailed routes on the Internet, it will be useful for beginners to read ready-made sailing directions and choose the most convenient option for themselves. This, among other things, will allow you to more accurately calculate the travel time. But in general, one must proceed from the fact that the speed of movement of the boat on calm water is about 3-5 km/h, depending on the current, rowing skills and the type of boat.
It is not at all necessary to go far from Moscow to make a rafting. The water in the rivers near Moscow is usually calm. On the way, you may come across rapids, but this is still not a mountain rapids, and the passage along them will not be an extreme test. Although, of course, you need to calculate your strength and not try to go through the threshold, if there is no complete confidence in success. The Moskva River and the Pakhra River can be options for a serene and affordable rafting. True, due to their proximity to the city, they are not clean, so it is better to raft along the Moskva River in its northern part before entering the capital. Another plus of the main metropolitan river is the small uninhabited islands, which will be very interesting for children to explore.
Today all the equipment necessary for the rafting can be rented. It is most convenient to contact one of the specialized companies, which should be chosen based on how close it is to the place of rafting. However, nowadays there are a lot of private advertisements where the owners offer to deliver the boat directly to the starting point of your journey and even meet you upon its completion.
There are three main types of kayaks:
Gloomy morning in early October, on the streets of St. Petersburg, no one but a handful of Chinese. They slowly take pictures of the sights, but suddenly liven up and run with cameras to the embankment. Their attention was attracted by people with oars, kayaking down the Neva - it looks much more exotic than ordinary river trams, packed to overflowing with tourists.
A non-standard type of recreation 27-year-old Dmitry and 25-year-old Valeria Sergeevs spied in Europe, where canal walks on small boats are a common occurrence. Kayaking trips became a hit of the summer and in two seasons turned into a profitable business with a profitability of over 70%.
The future spouses met in a student construction brigade in Karelia, where they built a power line together. Both studied at the St. Petersburg Polytechnic University: Dmitry studied finance, Valeria - medical physics. While still a student, they became interested in tourism and founded the Freehiker project: they organized weekend hiking and cycling trips around the outskirts of St. Petersburg, Finland and Estonia. This brought little money, so Valeria worked at a research institute, and Dmitry did marketing research for ARG, laid optical fiber in the parents' project "New Service" and worked in the procurement department of the Polytechnic Institute.
But the soul asked for travel, and in 2015, as soon as Valeria received her diploma, young people went to Italy on a volunteer program. “We looked at how small business is developing in Europe, how great it is to do something of our own, and realized that it is not at all necessary to go to work after graduation and build a career all your life,” says Sergeev. They decided to turn into business what they loved most - tourism.
By the mid-2010s, young people had already tried many kinds of sports - they went in for mountaineering, mountain tourism, and organized cycling trips. “Love for sports was formed in stages - then it was just water: we discovered kayaks for ourselves,” Sergeeva recalls. In neighboring Karelia, kayaking tours have been organized for a long time, but there were no such entertainments within the city: “I remembered my trip to Stockholm, where the locals could take a kayak, go to the embankment, go down to the water and swim. And I thought: why not do the same with us? ”
St. Petersburg turned out to be an ideal place to implement this idea: the embankments, unlike, for example, from Rome, are low here, the water level is high. “From the very beginning, St. Petersburg was designed so that it could be viewed from the water - it is not for nothing that it is called the Venice of the North,” says Sergeev.
First of all, the entrepreneurs decided to make sure that such a business does not contradict the legislation: they studied the documents and realized that the kayaks belong to the category of small boats, which means they are not subject to registration, and they can be operated without water rights. “According to the general rules for the use of small boats, a boat weighing no more than 200 kg and a carrying capacity of no more than 300 kg is not subject to any registration and does not require the right to operate it,” confirms Chermen Dzotov, founder of the legal company Dzotov and Partners. “But every passenger must be wearing a life jacket, and the ship must have at least one running light to move in the dark.”
Rafting on the canals in the city center cannot be called an extreme sport - there are no rapids, so the Sergeevs were counting on an unprepared audience from the very beginning. To make the person who first took the oar in their hands feel confident, they chose the most stable type of boats - inflatable two-seater kayaks. On the first weekend in April 2016, the couple rented four boats, spending 10 thousand rubles on it. together with delivery to the embankment. We created a group on VKontakte and came up with the slogan "# inPiterPlyt" - consonant with the name of the popular song of the "Leningrad" group "In St. Petersburg - drink".
The Sergeevs drew up a circular route passing by the main attractions, and at dawn went on a reconnaissance with friends-kayakers. Four hours sailed past St. Isaac's Cathedral, the Savior on Spilled Blood and the Summer Garden. “It was a complete delight - we had not yet looked at the sights from such a perspective, and when we entered the vast expanse of the Neva, everyone was simply breathless,” recalls Valeria Sergeeva. When they returned, the couple posted photos of the walk in the group on VKontakte, and they received requests.
The very next day they organized the first commercial tour. On the same rented kayaks, they took six tourists for a ride, taking from them 2.5 thousand rubles each - this way we managed to recoup the rental costs and earn several thousand. Places for all subsequent walks were booked in advance, although the Sergeevs did not invest in advertising at first - word of mouth and photos of clients on social networks did their job. “This is a product that sells itself,” Dmitry is sure.
Water tourism, including kayaking, is actively gaining popularity. Incredible emotions, the beauty of the nature of the coastline, the shine of the water and the bow of the kayak cutting through the water, communication with fellow travelers amaze tourists, contribute to relaxation and rest. Of course, in terms of comfort, in order to enjoy the hike, a lot depends on what kind of tourist boat and equipment you choose, it is very important that it has a back support system that will not be distracted by pain in the lumbar region during the hike.
Let's figure out in more detail how a beginner to start rafting.
There are several ways to get your first experience in kayaking:
The first of the proposed options is suitable if you are planning difficult hikes above 2 points. Do not think that sports clubs are a relic of Soviet times. A couple of minutes of searching on the Internet - and finding a similar one in your city will not be difficult. Among the advantages is the opportunity to gain a baggage of theoretical knowledge and practical experience. If you are planning amateur kayaking trips up to 2 k. visiting clubs is optional, you can easily figure out all the nuances on your own.
Paid rafting is a good idea to see if this type of vacation is right for you at all. Of the advantages - a proven route and the opportunity to "relax" under the supervision of experienced guides. Among the disadvantages is the high price of such a tour. For the cost of such a weekly trip, you can buy a kayak and a set of equipment for it. From budget, but high-quality options, we can recommend the Chub Comfort kayak, which is several times cheaper than competitors, is not inferior in speed and is much superior in comfort.
The third option - independent organization of rafting - requires physical training, knowledge of water tourism techniques and experience. But I will gladden you if you plan to hike on amateur routes up to the 2nd category of difficulty, where 95% of tourists go there, then you can go there without preparation, having a minimum stock of knowledge.
You can start with weekend hikes, and having gained experience, organize long hikes, for which the well-known Taimen kayak is ideal for everyone.
Khatanga is today a good compromise between inflatable and frame kayaks. There is a caste of people that perceives only frame kayaks (Taimen, Vuoksa, Svir, Varzuga). We all have them for personal use and we like them all. The main argument of “frame lovers” is that the kayak flies. They say you go much more kilometers on it.
But this is relevant only for wide, deep rivers without blockages and lakes. (Beggar, Drysa, Neman, Viliya, etc.). There, yes, I dispersed the kayak and you slide. Khatanga is a loser in this scheme. On the lake, it will be blown away by a crosswind. But as soon as there are obstacles, shallows, abundant turns, frame kayaks begin to lose significantly. Because of their linear motion, they are very difficult to rotate. The only exception is the Svir kayak. It is fidgety and designed for the rapids of Karelia. But it also holds the course worse than Taimen or Vuoksa.
The class of inflatable kayaks is rather blurred. There are also other inflatable kayaks - Burbot, Ermak, Shchuka. It is difficult to count them even as kayaks. These are inflatable mattresses or sofas. Compared to them, Khatanga is a rocket. Therefore, when we are told that frame kayaks are better than inflatable ones, we specify what kind of inflatable kayaks we are talking about. If about Burbot, we agree.
Burbot, Pike, Ermak are low-speed barges. No matter how hard you try, you can't overclock them. But they also have a very large niche - children's hikes, long autonomous rafting (where speed is not important), combined hikes (these kayaks are very light and can be carried on a bike, and then a bike in a kayak) or any hike where weight is important.
We would single out a separate class of inflatable kayaks - hybrids. These include: Khatanga, Shuya, Viking, Vega, Igla. These are high-speed kayaks, which are practically not inferior in speed to frame ones, but have the advantages of inflatable kayaks. This is achieved by using metal or inflatable parts that form a keel on the bottom. In turn, the keel adds linearity.
Cons of Khatanga
There is also a class of plastic kayaks. These kayaks have their pros and cons. Rather, there are two pluses: the lack of assembly/disassembly and, possibly, slightly overestimated reliability for cuts and breakdowns.