“A first for me after spending most of my life in Ottawa. Exhilarating!!!” – Micheline G.
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 fun rapids—and learn safety concepts—with experienced river guides.
Have an amazing river adventure in the city!
“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
Who’s this for?
You don’t need any previous river experience or training.
To participate, you need to be:
- Age 12 and up (age 10 and up for private groups)
- Physically active, with average swimming ability
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 staff member 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.
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 Parc Moussette, 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)
- Meet the group and intros
- Suit up with top-quality gear that we’ll provide for you
- There are nearby 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:
- kayaraft (inflatable whitewater self-bailing kayak) 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:
- 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