Kayaking, Canoeing & Rafting

Why You Need To Go Winter Kayaking In Bern

Getting the lowdown on an excellent kayaking destination from Dave Storey of Hightide Kayak School

When you picture a classic kayaking adventure, your mind might not immediately go to snowy banks by the water’s edge, air so cold you can see your breath, and wintry alpine terrain. You wouldn’t be alone. Kayaking, for many, is simply seen as more of a summery pastime. Thing is, when you boil down and categorise an activity like that you miss out on so much of what it has to offer.

Take winter kayaking in Interlaken, for example. It’s maybe not the first thing you’d imagine doing on a colder season trip to the Alps but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t absolutely, 100%, be on your list of things to do there at that time of year. This part of Switzerland is generally really great for watery adventures (the stand up paddle boarding in these parts, for example, is also very special).

Pictured: Dave Storey of Hightide

We caught up with Dave Storey, from Hightide Kayak School, to find out more about winter kayaking in the region.

A lot of people think of kayaking as more of a summer thing. What’s the best thing about kayaking in winter?

This is absolutely not the case, you’re only limited by what you’re wearing and when you have a drysuit on, you can wear normal clothes underneath, stay nice and warm and dry even if you end up in the water.

“It’s good for the mind, body, and soul”

Kayaking in winter here on the lakes of Switzerland is beautiful.

You have the lake to yourself, there’s always a special atmosphere and no matter what the weather is doing it’s always a special experience. You can really experience the quiet, feel close to nature and switch off from the world… away from the distractions of modern life… It’s calming. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul.

Is there a favourite area / spot for you when kayak touring in the region?

I love the paddle right here on Lake Brienz in Bönigen by Interlaken. You have stunning mountain views, cliffs, and space. No matter how much you are out on the lake, those special days, the special light and the power of nature still blow you away… I’m very grateful to live in such a stunning place.

Do you think travel and adventure in the next few years will, more so than ever, be about getting outside comfort zones and trying new things?

For me it’s less about going outside your comfort zone and more about trying new things. With all our technological advancements,  the ease of everything with the internet and the pace of modern day life I think people are yearning for genuine experiences. They want to get away from it all, find peace of mind, and get away from the constant stress of the day.

“There’s nothing more memorable and enjoyable than spending the day out on the water, setting up camp, and sharing stories”

Being out in nature, whether that’s on foot, on a bike, or on the water brings us back to the simple things in life. It slows us down and helps us to get back in the moment. For me the trend will be reconnecting with nature, with ourselves and having genuine and authentic experiences alone, with friends and with family.

There’s nothing more memorable and enjoyable than spending the day out on the water, setting up camp, and sharing stories around an open fire in the evening.

This is what we’ve all been missing… it’s the simple things.

Tell us about some of the people on your guiding team. It seems like you have a real mix of characters…

We are a mix of people, absolutely, Of our team, we have 10 different nations represented, we have ages from 20 to 50 and unforgettable characters.

What we all share is our love for the outdoors, in whatever form it takes. Whether hiking, paddling, biking or skiing what the outdoors brings to us is also the message we want to send – “If everyone spent more time in nature, the world would be a better place.”

“What brings us together is the outdoors and our desire to share that with everyone”

We choose our people carefully and our hope is to inspire everyone who comes through the door that we can live differently, that we can keep our mobile switched off and come back to the real things in life, interacting with people and combining work and play.

Aside from our love of paddlesports, we have a wide range of experience and backgrounds, with electrical engineers, architects, metal workers, tilers, physios, finance experts, politics degrees, former inline-skating champions, trampolinists, karate olympians, yoga teachers, rally drivers…

Yep we’re a diverse bunch, but again what brings us together is the outdoors and our desire to share that with everyone who comes through the door.

What’s your favourite thing about what you do?

For me, it’s two things. Firstly, it’s about creating a place that’s different. We aim to really live our philosophy and values and we want that to shine through whether you’re trying out one of our courses or tours, coming for a swim in our heated pool, or soaking up the ambience on our music nights while enjoying an apero at our rooftop lounge.

“There’s no other sport which can take you to so many different places”

It’s about living in the moment, getting away from day to day life, and feeling that holiday feeling right on your doorstep. We want to be an island of positivity and a place where people can come and switch off, relax and enjoy the stunning 360 degree views.

For me, personally, the other side is my coaching courses. I love kayaking and coaching and sharing my passion for the sport with others. Coaching is a constant challenge. You have to transmit the details of the sport in the most effective way possible, in a way that people can continue to learn by themselves. You want people to reach their aims and become self sufficient.

It’s awesome. Kayaking is really an incredibly diverse sport, where we can just enjoy being out in nature. Soaking everything up, we can really use it for improving fitness. We get to have the adrenaline rush of being on the river, out in a storm in wind and rain. We can paddle on the sea in 3m high waves, surf down the green waves on the beach and mess around the rocks.

There’s no other sport which can take you to so many different places, that leaves no trace and is accessible to everyone. If you’ve never paddled before, or not tried it for a while, then you should come by again and share it with friends. It’s great.

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