Ottawa Kayarafting Adventure
If you’ve ever wanted to try whitewater, this is a great way to start. During the 4.5 hour introductory workshop you’ll learn how to read the river.
Paddle and swim rapids—and learn safety concepts.
This activity is built-for-COVID: it’s 100% outside with physical distancing throughout. Read about our COVID precautions
“It was absolutely thrilling. My son and I saw the rapids and we said ‘there’s no way I’m going down those rapids!’
And of course as the day progressed—we were down them—just because we felt comfortable
…because we had these good people to help us out if we got into trouble.”
Take an adventure day in the city
Explore the water and waves of the Ottawa River
- Escape—for a refreshing, fun, active adventure
- Learn whitewater skills and safety concepts
- Experience and connect with the Ottawa River from a new perspective
Details at a Glance
This 4.5 hour experience runs from 9am to 1:30pm. Join a ‘scheduled departure’ any Saturday, Sunday, or Monday—or book your private group Tuesday through Friday
Activity levelYou don’t need any river experience.
Who’s this for?
You don’t need any previous river experience or training.
To participate, you need to be:
- Age 14 and up (age 10 and up for private groups)
- Physically active, with average swimming ability
- Free of COVID symptoms, with no history of contact with somebody who screened positive or was presumptive positive with the past 14 days.
We built this program from the ground up with COVID in mind: it’s 100% outside; with physical distancing throughout; clean gear; and no need for group transport.
The specific training sites and equipment that we’ve chosen allow you to ‘self-rescue’—with your skilled instructors nearby to coach you along and help you if you need it—while maintaining physical distancing.
NOTE: If you need to cancel because of a reason related to COVID, or if we have to postpone because of COVID, you’ll get a full credit to repeat the program anytime in the next 18 months—or you can give the credit to a friend.
Before your session, we’ll screen you as well as all of the other participants and instructors. Screening questions include:
- In the last 14 days, have you had close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 or is presumptive positive for COVID-19?
- In the past 14 days, have you experienced:
- Fever over 37.8°C / 100°F?
- Persistent cough?
- A loss of smell or taste?
- In the past 14 days, have you experienced new or worsening flu-like symptoms?
If you screen ‘positive’, we’ll ask for further clarification, and we may ask that you get medical clearance before you can join the program
When you arrive at the meeting location, your instructor or Boreal River staff will screen you independently for symptoms and risk factors.
We’ll have an area dedicated for this, away from the main meeting area.
Any participants who screen positive will be given a credit for a later date.
- The whole experience takes place outside
- We’ll maintain distancing between people at all times
- Please arrive wearing a mask
- For safety reasons, we won’t wear masks around the river but we will maintain physical distancing (people who live with each other don’t need to distance)
- We supply an outdoor hand-washing station and the meeting location with soap and clean water
- Please bring your mask in a case (such as a ziplock bag) and a small bottle of hand sanitizer on the river—we’ll provide you with a small drybag to keep it in that you can clip into your boat
- No sharing snacks or supplies, unless it is with somebody you live with
- If you need to sneeze or cough, cover your face with your upper arm
The safety of everybody in the group is always our number one priority. The most important factor is our instructors’ years of experience, training, and knowledge of the river.
Many people think of whitewater as extreme. But in fact, with the right approach to decision making, we have a lot of control. Throughout the day, as you learn about how the river works, you’ll see that whitewater is 100% predictable.
- The Ottawa Kayarafting Adventure always has a minimum of two river instructors—no matter how small the group
- Our instructors have extensive and current industry-leading safety credentials and certification. Every trip has a minimum of 2 guides with Wilderness First Responder (an 80-hour medical course) and Whitewater Rescue Technician certification—As well, many of our instructors teach those disciplines
- Each trip carries 2 cell phones. They are always carried by the guides in separate waterproof containers in different boats
- Each trip carries an extensive first aid kit, river safety equipment, and an AED (defibrillator)
- All activities are ‘challenge by choice’. It is up to you if you want to participate in a given activity
Of course, river travel and whitewater paddling have inherent risks. We ask that you read through and sign our Liability Release Form before you arrive.
Please contact us if you have questions about safety. It’s one of our specialties and we enjoy talking about it. As lifelong wilderness travellers, our guides feel more safe on a river than they do on city streets—and our primary goal is that we want you to feel the same way!
Description and outline
What to expect
Experience paddling and swimming in rapids and learn how to ‘read’ the river.
Get an understanding of key safety concepts so you can recognize danger and make good decisions on and around moving water.
For groups—this is a great way to bond during an active, outdoor adventure while maintaining distancing from those outside your ‘bubble’.
We’ll outfit you with your own packraft, which is a lightweight inflatable kayak. These boats are great for learning because they’re stable and easy to steer.
You’ll gain a foundation that’ll allow you to safely expand into more river activities, from wilderness canoe trips, to packrafting expeditions, to fishing around rapids, and more!
- Register and pay online
- Start your learning with a 25 minute online mini-course with videos, a safety briefing, and sign your digital waiver
Your day on the river
- Go to Brébeuf Park, in Gatineau (minutes from downtown Ottawa). There’s free parking and it’s accessible by bike path
- Your session goes from 9:00am to 1:30pm
- Meet your instructors (please arrive 15 minutes early)
- Your instructor will ask you some COVID screening questions
- Meet the group and intros
- Suit up with top-quality gear that we’ll provide for you
- There are nearby public bathrooms and changing areas
- You’ll get right into the action and into the water!
- We won’t take a long lunch break but we’ll do a couple of 15-20 minute breaks to refuel (bring your food and water bottle) and use the bathroom
- The 4.5 hours will fly by
- Swim in whitewater
- Shallow water crossing techniques (wading)
- Paddle rapids by packraft (inflatable kayak)
- Whitewater maneuvers
- Surf waves (or at least attempt to!)
- Inflatable kayak self-rescue (flip and get back in)
- Intro to technical safety gear: whitewater PFD, knife, whistle
- River hydrology (understanding the water moves…so you can ‘read’ rapids) and basic terminology
- River hazards and decision making
- Internationally recognized river signals (hand and whistle)
- Safety principles
- How to safely ‘rig’ (tie stuff in) to a boat
- 4.5 hours of professional instruction with 2 Boreal River Rescue instructors and up to 10 participants
- 30 minute online learning (to complete beforehand)—you can do it on your phone—covering river hydrology and whitewater safety principles
- Equipment provided:
- inflatable whitewater kayak (self-bailing) and paddle
- helmet and PFD (lifejacket)
- small drybag (to store your lunch, water, hand sanitizer, etc.)
- From June 15th to Sept 1: summer-wetsuit (1mm) top and bottom
- Before June 15 and after Sept 1: 4mm wetsuit
What to bring
The weather and water temperature in the summer in Ottawa are warm.
We’ll provide you with a summer-wetsuit (1mm) top and bottom. It’s a good idea to bring at least one complete layer of merino wool or synthetic clothing to wear under your wetsuit
Remember: avoid cotton—it doesn’t dry and doesn’t insulate when it’s wet.
Please also bring a pair of surf shorts or quick-dry shorts to wear over your wetsuit—they’ll help protect our wetsuits when you sit!
Your packing checklist:
- Face mask (we wear these when we first meet, until we’ve screened everybody and reviewed COVID safety—we don’t wear them on the water for safety reasons and because we can maintain distancing)
- Small bottle of hand sanitized (70% alcohol content)
- Water bottle with 1L of water*
- Food for snacks / lunch*
- Optional: sunglasses or prescription glasses (If you wear glasses—please bring a strap, or the river may take them!)
- Closed-toe shoes that you can get wet (lightweight trail running shoes or running shoes are best)
- Long-sleeved quick-dry shirt
- Long underwear or tights
- Undergarments, sports bra
- Surf shorts / bathing shorts (please wear these over the wetsuit to protect the wetsuit when you sit)
- If you get cold easily, you can “layer up” some more with thicker layers of merino wool or fleece (no cotton)
- Change of clothes and footwear for your way home and a bag for your wet clothes
*Arrive hydrated, caffeinated (if that’s your thing), and well fed with a proper breakfast
Have a private group?
Contact us to book a group of family & friends, corporate colleagues, or youth for a private or customized session for up to 10 participants.
Rapids in the city — map
What are people saying about Ottawa Kayarafting?
- I6775IJmeredithb28/09/2020 - TripAdvisor
I highly recommend this fun and adventurous outing on the urban, yet beautiful Ottawa River! Boreal guides are top notch... read moreOleon0827/09/2020 - TripAdvisor
My day white water kayaking with Boreal River was AMAZING. The staff were incredibly kind and friendly, I felt safe... read more
- cwf_mikaela17/09/2020 - TripAdvisor
Amazing day out on the water AND so close to the city! This is the perfect activity for anyone who... read more685natachar16/09/2020 - TripAdvisor
Fantastic introduction to the activity in our very own backyard! You don't have to leave Ottawa to have some fun... read more
- X5884XEsylvief05/09/2020 - TripAdvisor
Je ne pensais jamais vivre un jour cette surprenante et fantastique expérience du kayak de rivière avec BORÉAL RIVER... read morebarbm76205/09/2020 - TripAdvisor
Our guides very carefully prepared us for a great day. We started with safety tips and easy maneuvers and then... read more
- 833garthg03/07/2020 - TripAdvisor
Learning how to swim and paddle in whitewater is an amazing skill for anyone who spends time outdoors. This... read moreAllyJ43703/07/2020 - TripAdvisor
What a great way to spend a few hours! As someone who has no experience in white water and has... read more