How can I go kayaking alone

Canoe the family sport

Which body of water is right for me and my family?

There are typical bodies of water in every region, ranging from small forest and meadow streams to larger rivers and large rivers to lakes and the sea. Not all of these waters are equally good for family trips. Initial information about the paddling area can usually be found quickly and easily on the Internet. The DKV publishing house has an extensive range of waterway guides from almost all regions on offer ( and there are numerous books in bookshops with detailed tour descriptions and suggestions.

In addition, the local canoe clubs are of course competent contacts or local organizers of canoe tours or canoe rentals.

Tour planning includes first of all collecting information about the paddling area, selecting a possible paddling tour and precise knowledge of the difficulties to be expected, especially about special danger spots on the route (weirs, shipping, locks ...).

Indispensable for detailed tour planning, the water guides of the DKV, which describe the water in a very short and compact form with all the information necessary for the paddler. With the collected information, the individual planning can begin, start, breaks, end point, if necessary partial stages and break point are determined. Perhaps the tour can be arranged in such a way that difficult sections are avoided. A weir that is being carried around could also be a good place to take a break. Recommendations for the ideal length of day trips are difficult. Especially with children, the following applies: “Less is often more”. On small rivers, 10-15 kilometers are a good orientation value for day trips with children.

A few days before the tour and on the day of the tour itself, the current water level and weather report will determine whether the tour can be carried out as planned.

The two biggest fun killers when touring with children are fear and boredom. These aspects must also be included in the trip planning.


This highly subjective feeling arises when we no longer feel able to control a situation. It is obvious that this is not perceived in the same way by all people in comparable situations. Occasionally, children will also perceive objectively harmless situations as threatening and frightening. Here it is important to be very sensitive and to maintain the right proportion. We want to get children excited about canoeing and not scare them off.


The slow drifting along a calm river, the silent gliding over the large lake - what gives us adults the greatest pleasure is often unbearable for the little ones. "There's nothing going on there!", "When will the next rapids finally come?". These and similar questions are asked and must be answered. Therefore, when planning a trip, remember that there is always something to marvel at, that there is always a new adventure to be had. In this way the enthusiasm can be aroused and maintained.


Which body of water is right for a family tour?

1. Small rivers - tame water

Under the term "Zahmwasser", the paddler classifies rivers with low to medium currents, which, however, are without large waves, swells, side currents, rapids, steps and obstacles in the river.

Such tame water rivers are the typical family waters. Most of these small rivers are quite varied, breaks are possible in many places and small, harmless gushing pieces can provide a welcome change even for beginners.

The closer the water is to nature, the sooner exciting animal observations are possible and the flora and fauna of the water fascinate young and old.

A canoe tour on such rivers is usually easy for beginners, even with children. But be careful, tree and bush obstacles, bridges and especially weirs represent sources of danger that are often difficult to assess, especially for beginners.


Our recommendation for beginners - join experienced paddlers especially on their first trips. You can easily find a way to do this in the canoe club.


2. Small rivers - white water

The transition from tame to whitewater is often fluid and in many cases also depends on the water level. A clear demarcation is difficult.

In general, the classification of whitewater stretches is divided into six levels. This ranges from WW-1 to WW-6, whereby WW-6 is generally considered to be inaccessible. Even the domestic small river can contain sections that correspond to level WW-1.

An overview of the white water levels can be found here.

Easier whitewater stretches can also be navigated well and with a lot of fun by young paddlers. There is certainly no boredom here, children learn quickly and develop a good boat feeling through play. Successfully overcoming challenges also promotes self-confidence. But be warned urgently against excessive demands. The tour must not be too difficult or too strenuous, the principle of voluntariness applies - also for children.

Then driving on whitewater sections can be a great family experience. A decisive requirement for this is a suitably trained and experienced group of paddlers who instruct children and young people accordingly and who are also able to ensure their safety on the river.

The first point of contact for those interested is again the offer of the canoe clubs and associations. For example, the whitewater week of the Baden-Württemberg Canoe Association ( or offers such as the canoe camps of the German Association for Adventure Sports ( ).


3. Larger rivers and streams

For many canoe clubs - for example on the Rhine - it is common practice to navigate their home waters and with the appropriate knowledge it is also safe to do so. When navigating large rivers, currents, shipping and hydraulic structures in particular pose a potential risk that is often difficult to assess for beginners.