Canoeing is not only a way of life for riverine folks. It is slowly becoming a tourist activity for all in Nigeria. For instance, you can enjoy a canoe ride at Finima Nature Preserve in Rivers state, Epe Mangroves, and Makoko, the floating village in Lagos state.
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Mind you, canoeing differs from kayaking. Canoes are broader, has an open deck with benches for people to sit, contains more passengers and use a single blade for paddling. In Africa, this has been an ancient form of transportation. The oldest canoe in Africa and one of the oldest canoes in the world is the Dufuna Canoe in Damaturu, Yobe State. Africans used canoes for fishing and transportation. So the art of canoeing isn’t new to us.
However, from the era of millennials, urbanization has eclipsed the practice of canoeing. If you want to engage in canoeing as a tourist activity, there are a few things you need to know.
A canoe ride is fun when you are with the right company. But there is more to a canoe ride than just sitting in a moving canoe. You can take pictures of yourself against nature as the backdrop and also go fishing during the canoe ride. There are some brave persons who try to learn how to paddle on their canoe rides. You can have a barbecue cookout or a picnic on the shore. A ride down a river or stream on a canoe is pretty relaxing and somewhat therapeutic. Don’t let the fears of ‘what if’ keep you from enjoying the experience. Enjoy it.
When getting into a canoe, have someone hold the canoe steady. Grab the sides of the canoe for balance as you move in it once you sit down. Always walk in the middle of the canoe when trying to get in or out to avoid rocking it. Sit still in the middle of the canoe. Stay low, don’t stand up or walk in a canoe when you are far from shore. Avoid sudden movements. If there is water in your canoe, scoop it out with a bowl after seeking permission from the paddlers. Be aware of the currents in the water. Ask those paddling if you aren’t paddling. Aim to paddle away from the currents once it gets faster or you see rocks. Keep your phones, camera and electronics in a waterproof pack. If you want to carry any load, use a backpack. If you have the equipment, put them in the waterproof bag and tie them to the centre beam in the boat. This will ensure you lose nothing if the boat capsizes. The lighter the things on you, the better for the balance of the boat.
Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. Wear long sleeves and pants. This way, if you capsize, you won’t suffer from hypothermia (depending on the temperature of the water). Also, you need to wear a personal floatation device or a paddling fitted life jacket that won’t feel uncomfortable if you are paddling. Most times, you don’t have the option to choose the quality of life jacket you might receive. In those cases, make sure you pick one that is the right size for your body. Ignore the discomfort you may feel using it. Bring extra clothing in a waterproof bag in case your outfit gets wet from the canoe ride.
There are already countries in the world making money from giving travellers canoe rides. Such as Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Canada, America, and Russia, just to name a few. There’s no reason we shouldn’t use canoeing as a tourist activity here in Nigeria.
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