Make a splash: Discover kayaking and other water activities in the Belgian Ardennes
Spring marks the opening of the tourism season in Belgium, and there’s plenty of activities to be enjoyed along the country’s many rivers and waterways.
Among the most popular is renting a kayak and descending one of Wallonia’s scenic rivers, including the Lesse, Ourthe, Semois and Meuse. They each boast idyllic landscapes, and the watersport is a perfect opportunity to access secluded areas of the countryside and get close to local flora and fauna.
In the province of Liège, in the municipalities of Aywaille and Ferrières, the Domaine de Palogne organises kayaking adventures down the Rover Ourthe (7.8 km). A bus is laid on to take visitors to the departure point in Barvaux, while welcome showers and changing rooms await at the end of the kayak run.
The historic town of Bouillon, close to the French border in Luxembourg province, is a tourism hub. As the Semois Valley was designated a national park at the end of 2022, more visitors are expected this spring and summer.
It’s possible to descend the Semois in kayaks from the departure point in Poupehan as well as rent canoes and paddleboards. Take your pick from 4km or 15km distances with a free shuttle bus returning to the departure point.
Another operator plying this river is Kayaks La Vanne, based in Alle-sur-Semois. It offers four different routes, from 7 to 17 kms, in the villages of Poupehan, Vresse, Membre or Bohan.
Another option for fun and daring adventure are the activities provided by Dinant-Evasion, a specialised company located in the Mosane valley’s sought-after tourist town.
Its flagship attraction is a descent of the River Lesse by kayak on either the Gendron-Anseremme route (12 km) or the longer Houyet-Anseremme course (21 km). The 9 km route is scheduled to open on 29 April.
The company also offers guided caving initiations, which take participants between narrow passages and vast spaces. Cruises on the Meuse are equally on the agenda. These depart from the famous Dinant Croisette and travel through the heart of the Meuse valley. Cruises are either 45 minutes or 2 hours and run every weekend in April and daily from May.
Brand new this year is an accommodation offer, ‘Village du Caillou’, which comprises eight apartments, all located in a green setting and not far from surrounding entertainment.
A Dinant-Evasion spokesman said : “Our teams are already looking forward to rediscovering the excitement of our seasonal activities which try to strike a balance between nature and sport.”
Mini cruises are also available in Namur, with boats plying the rivers Meuse and Sambre between their various locks. They offer spectacular waterside views of the Walloon capital and its imposing ancient citadel. There’s also a water taxi, La Namourette, that picks up passengers along the two waterways and is one of the best ways of navigating the city’s attractions.
Other watersports, such as paddleboard, canoes and boat rentals, are provided by riverside seasonal pop-up bars, La Capitainerie and The Flow by Charlie’s Club (opening 30 April). They’re both located on the Jambes side of the city, which is also home to Namur Kayak & Canoe Club, another address that provides rentals.
It’s worth noting that all kayak, canoe and paddleboard activities are subject to certain age restrictions, a life jacket may be compulsory and access to river descents can be affected by varying water levels. Don’t forget to bring along a change of clothes!
Discover more water-themed activities in this article from The Bulletin’s summer travel guide.
Photos: (main image) La Domaine de Palogne; Dinant Evasion; La Capitainerie, Namur