Family Kayaking on Lesse River – why it pays off to be an early bird sometimes
This weekend we tried something new: kayaking on the Lesse River located in the picturesque Walloon region of Belgium, close to the charming town of Dinant. If you happen to live in Belgium or plan to visit this beautiful country and are into nature and beautiful surroundings – you should definitely try this activity with your family. The kayaking experience is provided by Dinant Evasion/Lesse Kayaks and one or two other outfits in the area.
Kayaking on the Lesse River is nice and easy. Even a complete novice can do it (and many do). The river is shallow, very slow and has only a couple mini-rapids. There are two routes to choose from: the short one: 12km (7.5 miles) long which takes approximately 3 hours to finish; And the long one: 21km (13 miles) long which takes on average 5 hours to complete. The route is very scenic, surrounded by trees, valleys and occasional rock formations.
Tip: With the smaller kids (5-8 years old) I would recommend taking the shorter route, which (trust me) is long enough and can test children’s patience.
Choosing the best time:
I won’t be lying: my family and I aren’t known for early starts. So, to avoid morning anxiety we booked our kayaks for 12:30 PM on Sunday. Guess what? Hundreds of other people had exactly the same idea. In the middle of a beautiful, sunny day, the
Lesse River was packed with kayaks, which kept bumping into us the entire time and made our 3-hour trip an infinite slalom among the boats chaotically navigated by fellow kayakers – many of them much better at generating speed than maneuvering. And if you still don’t know what I’m talking about, imagine hundreds of bumper cars steered by 5-year-olds. That was basically the experience.
Tip: It would pay off to be an early bird to enjoy this attraction. The ticket office opens as early as 8:30 AM. The earlier you get there the better chance you have to beat the crowd. Another option is to pick a week day as opposed to a weekend.
The best way to get to Dinant is by car. You park your car near the ticket office and then a special shuttle bus takes you to one of the two boarding points.
Tip #1: If you arrive during a popular time, the lines to the shuttle bus can be very long (we waited approx. 20 minutes to get on it). If possible, in order to speed up the process, it makes sense to split the duties. While one person goes to pick up the tickets, the other one should go straight to the bus line and wait there. I wish I knew that before.
Tip #2: Have cash ready. The cash only lines were much shorter and seemed to move quicker than the one that accepted credit cards.
The river provides a number of places to dock the kayak and have a picnic. There are also two picnic areas, which serve Belgian beer and fries. Personally, I found picnicking more enchanting.
Tip: Dinant is a charming city with plenty of restaurants and cafés. Therefore snack on the river and save your real hunger for after the kayaking and try one of the local brasseries.
Other Practical information:
- The ticket office opens as early as 8:30 AM.
- Both routes are accessible to children from 5 years accompanied by an adult.
- Depending on the water conditions, the age restrictions can become harder. Therefore if you have a smaller kid, it’s a good idea to contact the Lesse Kayaks office ahead of time. There is a water-level guide on the website, or you can write or email for a more up-to-the-minute report on conditions. A jump from “blue” conditions to “green” will raise the minimum age from 5 to 8, so it’s worth knowing before setting out, especially if it’s rained recently.