Canoeing or Kayaking down the Dordogne?

14 June 2022 | Our news

At Canoe Loisirs, we offer you the opportunity to hire a canoe or a kayak to discover the Dordogne along the river.
If you don't know yet which boat to choose, here is a detailed description:

First, let's start with the origins of canoeing and kayaking

The canoe comes from the North American Indians. They were made "quite simply", with an emptied tree trunk, which required days of work!
As for the kayak, it is the Inuit, the "Eskimos" who are at the origin. Their kayaks were made of sealskin and driftwood.
No wood or sealskin at Canoe Loisirs! Our canoes are much lighter, yet robust, and respectful of the animal cause! Today on the Dordogne, you can find canoes or kayaks made of fibreglass or polyester, gel-coated fabrics, resin or even polyethylene. The variety is great.
Nowadays, canoes and kayaks are mainly used for walking, fishing or sport, whether in the river, sea or lake.

One of the most important differences between canoeing and kayaking: the paddles

Paddles are used to steer the boat. If you choose to canoe down the Dordogne, then you will need a simple paddle. The simple paddle is composed of a blade (the part that comes into contact with the water) and a handle, called an "olive". This paddle is relatively short. The canoeist or kayaker that you will be during your discovery trip will have to paddle on one side at a time. If you let the blade of your paddle drag along the water, you will be able to go straight ahead. It's a good move!
In a kayak, you use a double paddle, with a blade at each end of the shaft. This paddle is therefore longer (up to 2.30m). The kayaker alternates between left and right paddle strokes.

Another difference: having the right position

In a kayak, you sit on your buttocks, but the leg position differs slightly.
- Open sit-in: you sit on the kayak, legs slightly bent, feet on the footrests.
- Closed sit-in: you are sitting in the kayak with your legs straight.

In a touring canoe, you will be sitting on a bench, but normally it is done on your knees! Don't worry, we want the best for your discovery of the Dordogne river, and our benches are equipped with backrests, which greatly improves the comfort of navigation.

Difference 3: Shape of the boat

The canoe is wide enough to carry a container, bivouac gear (we offer multi-day canoe trips!), dog etc. You won't get as wet as in a kayak, as you are above water level. But when the weather is hot, this is not a problem!
Because of its width, the canoe is also more stable and comfortable for families.

The kayak is lighter and more streamlined, but also very manoeuvrable, ideal for the third person in the group or for those who like their independence!

Number of people

As the practice for leisure is relatively similar, we would advise you to opt for a canoe if you are riding with 2 or 3 people or 4 if you are in a family (2 adults and 2 children between 5 and 12 years old).
And although two people can get into a kayak, at Canoe Loisirs, we reserve it for people who want to sail alone.

In short, whether you choose a canoe or a kayak to go down the Dordogne, we guarantee you pleasure and discovery, whatever the route you choose!

It is not impossible that you will meet professional kayakers on your trip down the Dordogne, as Castelnaud-la-Chapelle is home to the Castelnaud Kayak Club.

Don't forget to BOOK, to organise your descent as well as possible.

Good to know:
Canoeing, like kayaking, is one of the paddle sports, like rafting and dragon boating. But you won't come across them on the Dordogne!