Luxury Kayaking: Top Tips and Trips

A cow glances at the for­eign kayak in the land of the Masai in Africa.

This is the week I hope to be kayak­ing in a lake with the world’s only fresh water sharks, amidst vol­canos, islets, and pro­lific birdlife as part of Austin-Lehman Adven­tures’  com­pelling flag­ship tour in Nicaragua. To pre­pare, I con­tacted fel­low Explorer’s Club mem­ber Alan Feld­stein who teaches kayak­ing in the Pacific waters of Los Ange­les, and leads a com­pany that offers cus­tomized water safaris via kayaks in Tan­za­nia, Africa—Infi­nite Safari Adven­tures(More on Feldstein’s other col­or­ful ven­tures below.). He shares some tips and trips with me and Lux­ury Travel Mavens readers:

What is “lux­ury kayaking”?

Feld­stein: “Most kayak trips, which I have done and love to do, involve pad­dling to a remote site with your gear in the boat, set­ting up camp, and then pad­dling the next day.  Us aging boomers are less into camp­ing so the bet­ter way is to pad­dle to a lodge or pad­dle to and from a com­fort­able won­der­ful lodge with nice beds, hot show­ers and great meals.”

What does it take to be a kayaker?  How does it relate to health?

Feld­stein: “Kayak­ing is a great sport for active peo­ple who do not want high impact.  Any­one can kayak and our trips are offered with no expe­ri­ence nec­es­sary.  Gen­eral good health is all that it takes.  You use your core and are not putting stress on knees, hips and other joints.”

What are your five best tips for “good” kayaking?

Feld­stein: “Have good equip­ment, have guides who are cer­ti­fied and know what they are doing, eat and hydrate well before pad­dling, and remem­ber ‘the jour­ney is the des­ti­na­tion’ so go out and enjoy, and do not worry about how far or fast you pad­dle.  It is that Zen rhythm you get into when pad­dling that I enjoy so much.”

How do you rec­om­mend some­one pre­pare for a kayak­ing trip? Any advance phys­i­cal train­ing? Any­thing spe­cial to pack?

Feld­stein: “If you have never kayaked before, it would be if pos­si­ble to take a les­son or intro­duc­tory course.  Oth­er­wise that is one of the great things of kayak­ing — any­one can do it. There are tech­niques to learn but any­one can pad­dle with out them.  We pro­vide every­thing so the only thing you will need is a pair of water­proof shorts, shirts and shoes, a hat, some sun­glasses and sun­screen, and a desire to have fun!”

How is kayak­ing dif­fer­ent than canoe­ing or row­ing? Why do you pre­fer it?

Feld­stein: “I tease my friends who are row­ers that they look at where they have been.  We look to where we are going!  Canoe­ing is sim­i­lar, but I feel more com­fort­able in a kayak, because I am more con­nected with my boat.”

What inspired you to start a safari com­pany and include kayaking?

Feld­stein: “My story of how I started my safari com­pany, which has now expanded beyond kayak­ing, and offers tra­di­tional wildlife safaris as well as other adven­tures includ­ing climb­ing Kil­i­man­jaro, scuba div­ing in Zanz­ibar and track­ing chimps, is born from my love of Africa and kayaking.

In 2000, I made my first trip to Tan­za­nia. It was dur­ing that trip that I fell in love with Africa and every­thing about it – the peo­ple and their cul­ture, the ani­mals, the nat­ural beauty. The first time a giraffe bent her grace­ful neck to peer into the vehi­cle win­dow – well, she had me at jambo (Swahili for hello).

The trip left quite an impres­sion on me. I dreamed about return­ing. In 2005, I made another trip to Tan­za­nia to try new adven­tures — climb­ing Mt. Kil­i­man­jaro and track­ing wild chim­panzees in the Mahale Moun­tains. While “chimp­ing” at Mahale, I met Steve and Teena, who man­aged the beach­front lodge where I and my wife were stay­ing. Steve and I dis­cov­ered we shared a pas­sion for kayak­ing, and much to my sur­prise, Steve pro­duced an aging boat and makeshift pad­dles so I could go for a pad­dle on Lake Tanganyika.

A few years later, I brought my chil­dren to Tan­za­nia, and they too fell in love with Africa. Steve orga­nized our safari. I wanted to include kayak­ing on the trip, but there were no kayaks avail­able in Tan­za­nia, so Steve cus­tom built two beau­ti­ful fiber­glass boats. He and I became the first to pad­dle the warm waters of the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania.

Dur­ing that trip, I thought about what makes a safari a great one from a good one.  I also thought about how to incor­po­rate kayak­ing, and much more. I believed that many other adven­tur­ers from around the world would enjoy the same excep­tional expe­ri­ence. From that dream, Infi­nite Safari Adven­tures was born.”

When are your upcom­ing trips?

Feld­stein: “We only do cus­tom trips, so they can be done any­time peo­ple are ready to do them!”

Any good kayak­ing related sto­ries from past trip?

Feld­stein: “My last trip was a fam­ily of 11 – grand­par­ents, adult kids, 2 grand­kids, and an 80-year-old friend from Japan.  I loved the fact that we took the grand­fa­ther, his son and grand­daugh­ter on a pad­dle one day.  She was so proud of kayak­ing with the adults (she did great), and it was a great bond­ing expe­ri­ence for the whole family.”

What’s your per­sonal favorite “lux­ury” trip that you have been on?

Feld­stein: “Of course my favorite are my trips, but my next one was pad­dling in Halong Bay in North Vietnam.”

What is on your bucket list for future “bucket list” Lux­ury trav­els (with or with­out a kayak)?

Feld­stein: I spend so much time trav­el­ing to Africa.  If I had time, I would like to go to South Amer­ica — anywhere.

Pam­pered Paddling

Thanks Alan!  I would also love to try kayak­ing just about any­where beau­ti­ful on every con­ti­nent. In North Amer­ica, I’ve savored kayak­ing while on Amer­i­can Safari Cruises (now Un-Cruise Adven­tures). They lower kayaks off their yachts for mem­o­rable pad­dling and pam­per­ing expe­ri­ences in the Inside Pas­sage of Alaska, Hawaii, and Sea of Cortez, Mexico.

Now I head to the largest coun­try in Cen­tral Amer­ica to dip into Lake Nicaragua!  I will remem­ber to stay hydrated, and hope to see and pho­to­graph mon­keys on the islands, the world’s only fresh­wa­ter sharks, and the vol­canic land­scapes, but will remem­ber that phrase “the jour­ney is the destination.”

For more on kayak­ing (and ash­board­ing?) in Nicaragua, you can “fol­low me” at @ExploreTraveler  and other adven­tur­ers @AustinLehman.  To plan your own pad­dling jour­ney in Africa, you can con­tact Feld­stein via his website.

 —Lisa TE Sonne for Lux­ury Travel Mavens

–Pho­tographs by Alan Feld­stein, except for the one of him.

Alan Feld­stein, Founder, Infi­nite Safari Adventures


Feldstein’s bio, pro­vided by him: In addi­tion to pad­dling and teach­ing kayak­ing, Alan Feld­stein has pad­dled all over the world, includ­ing Cal­i­for­nia, Baja, British Colum­bia, Cape Cod, Hawaii, Turkey, The Hud­son River, Viet­nam, West Africa, Lake Tan­ganyika, and was one of the first peo­ple to kayak and explore the coast of Tan­za­nia. Alan is also an avid nature pho­tog­ra­pher whose work has appeared in Wave­length Mag­a­zine, the Los Ange­les Times, and the cal­en­dar.  In addi­tion, Alan has trav­eled exten­sively through­out the world.  He is a mem­ber of the Adventurer’s Club of Los Ange­les and South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Chap­ter Chair of the Explorer’s Club.  He also sits on the board of Trustees of the Chee­tah Con­ser­va­tion Fund. Most impor­tantly he is the Owner and Founder of Infi­nite Safari Adven­tures.



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  1. Thanks Lisa! Great arti­cle. One request — can we switch jobs???

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