This is a fantastic activity making white water river kayaking accessible to all!
The Durance river is famous for its white water rafting and to be able to kayak it requires a good level of paddling experience that can't just be acquired overnight!
However, there is a little known and very beautiful grade 2 section that can be paddled using sit-on-top kayaks which anyone can try!
What are sit-on-top kayaks?
Sit-on-top kayaks have a double shell filled with air so they float and any water that gets in is quickly evacuated by holes in the bottom! They are wider than white water kayaks and are very stable - meaning they won't tip over easily, which is why they are perfect for beginners! There are one and two-seater models so you can go it alone or in pairs. Please note that all children under 12 must be in a kayak with an adult. You use a classic two ended paddle to steer and manoeuvre the kayak.
What is the river like?
The grade 2 section of the river is a gentle flowing river, through beautiful mountain scenery with several fun and easily navigated rapids. There are beavers in evidence along the river and if you look up you are likely to see golden eagles and other birds of prey.
The water flow of this section of the river is controlled by the dam at the Serre-Ponçon Lake, meaning it has a constant level of water all summer long.
There are two sections possible depending on how long you want to paddle. The shorter section is 6 km and it takes about 1,5 hour. The longer section is 15 km and it takes 3 to 4 hours depending on your pace. It starts with a narrower sporty section at the beginning and twists and turns gently after this through the Durance River's awe-inspiring valley.
There is no time limit for this activity. As this is a self guided descent, once you have been dropped off, you have until the evening (18h00) to get back, meaning you can easily spend the day ambling down, stopping for a picnic and photos on the way!
What's more, the 15 km section passes through the "3 lakes" where there are beaches, a snack-bar and great swimming. The water is a little warmer here as it has time to be warmed by the sun! This is a lovely place to stop off for a picnic!
From the 3 lakes it is also possible to do a 4km descent in inflatable giant rings. This takes 1,5 hour to do and is a fun way to experience the river. There are also river kayaks available from this starting point so some in your party can take kayaks and you can swap and change on the way down.
This is a self-guided activity. We arrange the kayak or inflatable giant ring hire and the transfer up to the top of the river (depending on the section you chose) and then you paddle down the river by yourself.
You will be given a life jacket and have the option of a helmet (obligatory for children). You will also be given a waterproof dry box for spare clothes, water, picnic and mobile phone. A mobile phone is compulsory for the descent for safety reasons. There are regular markers along the river and get out points so you always know where you are if you need to signal anything to the organisers.
It is also possible to hire a neoprene wetsuit and socks for 5€ and a pair of shoes for 2€ per person. Available directly at the shop.