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Riding the river

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Despite the recent floods that ravaged the country, it’s important to remember that rivers are not only an enemy that tears down houses and takes humans lives. If we come to them with respect, rivers can be lots of fun. These days, float trips – canoeing down the river – are becoming more and more popular, and the conditions are becoming more convenient even for people who are not experienced canoers.

Ideally, you will have the weekend or at least a whole day to do your float trip. Just choose a river, drive down to the starting point, borrow all the equipment on site and enjoy your adventure. And after you finish your canoe trip, you can just take a train back to the starting point.

On the last Sunday in June, I took a one-day trip on the Sázava river with my friends. We were a group of seven adults and two children: two couples, two girlfriends and a family with one child.

I decided to organise the whole trip when I realised that summer is already in full swing. I made a phone call to the rental agency to find out if the boats are available. We wanted to go on Saturday, but the canoes we wanted were already booked, so I decided that we go for Sunday instead. Important lesson: Book well in advance.

The package I ordered was called the Trip and included a boat of any chosen type, two paddles, two life jackets and one watertight barrel for the paddlers’ belongings per boat, insurance of the equipment and boat pick-up at the end of the trip.

We chose two open canoes in the classic Vydra style for the couples and the super stable boat – the Turan – with three seats for the family. The price for one boat trip was CZK 350 for the smaller boat and CZK 440 for the bigger boat.

I also paid a little extra money for insurance against bad weather. You know that you can even cancel your trip with no explanation if you pay a certain amount of money with the order. I booked the boats for us about two weeks before the trip. All the bookings were processed over the internet. I had to confirm the order by paying for the rental by bank transfer five days after ordering.

We met in the morning in front of the rental house and then went through a big yard full of equipment. We chose the right size of equipment, and then it was time to hit the river.

The Sázava river was the ideal choice: Týnec nad Sázavou, the starting point of the trip, is just a 50-minute drive from downtown Prague. You can also take the train from Prague’s main train station or from Prague’s Vršovice station. The train trip takes from 60 to 90 minutes.

The part of the River about 19 km from Týnec to Pikovice is suitable for beginners or not very experienced “sailors”. The surroundings of the river offer nice views of the walls of the canyon through which the river runs, and Stvořidla is an especially beautiful area.

If you are a real beginner and want to be well prepared for your first float trip you can take some lessons at the canoe school f. e. http://www.dronte.cz/?page_id=276 before you take your first trip on your own.

There are many rivers in the Czech Republic suitable for canoeing with different level of difficulty. Those suitable for family trips are the Vltava, Berounka, Lužnice, Ohře, Otava. These rivers also have many camps with good facilities and many refreshment stands along the way. You don’t have to come just for one day; you can spend a whole week on the river, stopping along the way to check out historical monuments or just enjoy the beauty of the surrounding nature. But you should also be prepared for a bit crowded river, with lots of boats on the surface. Not so crowded and suitable for beginners are Jizera, Ploučnice, Morava, Úpa, Mrlina or Cidlina.

If you are more experienced, you can take a boat and equipment with you and go check out less frequented rivers (some of them are only accessible for canoeing in some parts of the year or on particular dates). You can also try Moravice, Kamenice, Labe, Hloučela or Hamerský Potok.

Some useful links:

Boat rentals:

http://bisport.cz/?lg=en

http://www.dronte.cz/?page_id=276

Canoeing and rafting information:

http://rivers.raft.cz/seznam.aspx?ID=254

Tips from CzechTourism:

http://www.czechtourism.com/eng/uk/docs/search.html

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