Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sea-kayaking in the Arctic boosts the Adventure

Sea-kayaking in Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Andrey Gostnikov

Polar sea-kayaking is the ultimate experience for paddlers - crystal clear water, unique wildlife and beautiful castles of ice. A little experience required
For some travelers the excitement of participating in an expedition to the polar regions is not enough. They need an extra boost of adrenaline. Those adventure seekers opt to add camping, mountaineering, cross-country skiing or sea-kayaking to their adventure vacation in the Arctic or Antarctica.

What is the difference between a Whitewater Kayak and Sea-kayak?

A kayak is a small boat originally designed by the Inuit of the Arctic. Paddlers propel the boat by a double-bladed paddle. The blades are offset slightly from each other. A sea-kayak, unlike a whitewater kayak, is designed for open water. Most Antarctic expedition operators that offer a sea-kayaking option provide single or tandem kayaks for their paddlers.

A safety conscious expedition cruise company provides a dry training session on board prior to the first paddle. When the kayaks are launched a Zodiac or some other stable craft accompanies the flotilla to act as a rescue boat.

Inexperienced Paddlers can Kayak in the Arctic or Antarctica

Travelers to the Arctic or Antarctica who have never paddled a kayak could begin their new past-time in the what some consider the ultimate sea-kayaking destination. When sailing with Quark Expeditions, the novices must prove they have practiced an emergency wet exit. That can be accomplished prior to leaving home in a swimming pool under the supervision of a kayak master.

Sea-kayaking as a Platform for Wildlife Watching

Despite their cute and cuddly appearance, polar bears are dangerous and they are excellent swimmers. So when polar bears are present the kayaks may be pulled from the water. Arctic bird-watching, however, is excellent from the boats.
In the Antarctic Peninsula, penguins, seals and whales have been known to swim around and under kayaks. When wildlife is nearby kayakers may be asked to stow their paddles and float while observing the antics of the local residents. Safety, however, is first. If, in the judgment of the safety crew, the situation is dangerous, paddlers will be directed to return to the ship.

How much does Sea-kayaking Cost in the Polar Regions?

Expect to pay an additional $500 to $900 per person for the privilege of kayaking in the polar regions. That includes the use of all the equipment required, and the leadership of an experienced kayak guide, plus the safety boat and personnel. Expect to kayak between 3 and 5 times during an expedition. While kayakers paddle the rest of the expedition members will be hiking or cruising in Zodiacs. Travelers should be aware that if they choose a sea-kayaking option they may miss other activities.

Sea-kayaking in Antarctica, Jamie Scarrow

Read more at Suite101: Sea-kayaking in the Arctic or Antarctica boosts the Adventure

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