Blauwalg alarm: Voorlopig is kajakken in Aalst niet toegestaan. In Denderleeuw geldt een waarschuwing om extra voorzichtig te zijn.

Kajak op de dender logo

Canoeing and kayaking are often confused with each other. However, there is a difference between the two: canoeing is done in an open boat, using a paddle with a blade on one side and a handle on the other, while kayaking is done in a closed boat, using a paddle with a blade on both sides. 

Another important point in canoeing is the fact that the person sitting behind exerts the most influence on the direction of steering.

There are also a number of rules to bear in mind when canoeing. You may only get on and off the canoe in the places provided. If you do not find a designated place, you should try to find a place where you will cause as little damage as possible to the nature on the bank. In addition, you should preferably speak in a soft tone to not disturb the local fauna or other visitors to the Dender. Finally, you keep your rubbish until the end of the canoe trip and throw it in a rubbish bin on shore.


The canoe has a front (bow) and a back (stern). You can tell this by the direction of the seats and the legroom in the canoe.

When the canoe is on dry land, do not step into it. Do not drag or scrape the canoe on the ground. This may cause a leak in the canoe. Therefore, always carry the canoe. Even if it is heavy. You have a handle on both the stern and the bow to lift the canoe.


A lifejacket helps you to float, but you will still have to swim to get to shore.

It is always compulsory to put on your lifejacket and keep it on when on the water. Do not stand or sit on the life jackets as this makes them less secure. Don't put it too close to the campfire because it could melt.


The paddle has a blade and a handle. Take hold of the handle and adjust the paddle to shoulder width. If you need to push away from the edge. Use the handle on the paddle. The blade is much thinner and can break off more easily. And you are responsible for all your equipment; if it is broken, you have to pay for it.

Booked a canoe weekend? Then per person (or canoe) a large barrel is provided for all your personal equipment. Don't take too much equipment with you in the canoe. Below is a list of materials that you will need for your weekend:

- Swimming trunks

- 2 pairs of shoes: 1 wet pair for the canoe and 1 dry pair for your sleeping place.

- 2 t-shirts, underwear and socks

- Minimum 1 warm jumper and 1 pair of trousers

- A rain vest

- Sunglasses, sun cream, sun hat or cap

- Torch

- Mosquito spray

- Drinking bottle

- A rope

- Wallet, money, ID card

- Snacks for canoeing

- Sleeping bag, mat and tent if necessary

- Food and drink for the weekend

- Gamblers, cutlery, plates, drinking cup

- Biodegradable washing-up liquid and sponge

- Possibly a camping chair

Would you like to paddle on the river for a few hours? Then it suffices to bring some spare clothes, in case you couldn't avoid a dive in the Dender.

We have 2 person kayaks, where there is room for a child up to 8 years old in between. Or even a dog if you like. Children older than 8 years must take their own place in the kayak.
These are stable 2-person kayaks, suitable for beginning adventurers. They are unsinkable. Each participant is obliged to wear a life jacket.

The water quality of the Dender has improved a lot in recent years. Especially through the efforts of, among others, Aquafin, the Flemish wastewater treatment company. The quality of the water in the Dender is now between acceptable and good.

Officially, swimming in the Dender is not allowed, but it certainly cannot do any harm if you end up in the water anyway. An accident in which your boat or kayak capsizes can sometimes happen faster than expected.

Blue-green algae are not actually algae, but rather bacteria. They occur in waters with little current and are more likely to proliferate in warm weather. You can recognise blue green algae, sometimes reddish brown, and their oily consistency. After coming into contact with these bacteria, you may experience the following symptoms: diarrhoea, vomiting, irritation of the eyes, ears and nose, as well as respiratory complaints.

  • Aalst
  • Train: Erembodegem station (12 min walking distance)
    Parking: The Outsider Aalst (Kapellekensbaan 4, 9320 Aalst)
  • Denderleeuw
  • Train: Liedekerke station (16 min walking distance)
              Denderleeuw station (17 min walking distance)
    Parking: Te Dorp Denderleeuw, follow the lane to the left of the church until you reach the river Dender
  • Overboelare
  • Train: Geraardsbergen station (17 min walking distance)
    Parking: Het Bruggenhuis (Majoor van Lierdelaan 50, 9500 Geraardsbergen)

    Link to NMBS (train service)


If you spend the night in Ninove or if Ninove is your final destination, you can leave your boats in the canoe car park (behind the volleyball courts in the sports hall). Please follow the following instructions:
  1. Take your boat off your canoe trolley.
  2. Put the straps in the barrel.
  3. Put the life jacket in the barrel.
  4. Close the barrel.
  5. Place the barrel and the canoe trolley under the boat.
  6. Put the boat upside down over the canoe cart and the barrel.
  7. Close the door.
See you next time!

If you fall out of your boat, try to hold on to your paddle. If water gets into your boat, bring it to shore and let the water out by tilting the boat. You can also use a small bucket for this. Take your time because it takes a while until all the water is out of the boat.
If you are hypothermic, get out of the water as quickly as possible. Take off your wet clothes and put on dry clothes, drink something warm and take a lukewarm shower that slowly warms you up.
When you see other people in need, you are obliged to help them.
In case of serious accidents call the emergency number 100.


To hold your paddle correctly, first place the paddle on your head in a balanced position. Then your hands take hold of the paddle with your arms at a 90° angle and your hands at a 90° angle to the paddle. In canoeing, you hold the paddle with your closest hand on the shaft and your furthest hand on the handle. When kayaking, you hold the handle with both hands. 


To get into the kayak or canoe, first place the boat in the water parallel to the shore. Then place the paddle at right angles to the front of the boat and the bank. At the next stage, squat down next to the opening of the kayak/canoe and, with one hand, hold the kayak/canoe seat and the paddle and, with the other, just the paddle. This way, you can step into the boat easily. Finally, hold the paddle with two hands in the correct manner as explained above.


To go forward in the kayak you use the forward stroke technique. This stroke is done in 4 steps. At the first step you put the paddle in the water as close to the boat as possible. Try to avoid splashing. Your trunk and arms may move slightly forward. At step 2, pull the paddle backwards with your lower arm. With your upper arm, you actively push the other side of the paddle forward. In this way, you create a leverage effect. This leverage effect is important in order to save strength. In step 3, you lift the paddle blade with the narrow side out of the water so that you scoop up as little water as possible. Finally, in step 4, bring the paddle back to the front. In doing so, you make sure that the paddle moves as close to the water as possible. 
These 4 phases are a continuous cycle. This cycle is repeated alternately left and right. In the beginning you try to pay attention to each phase. After an hour, this will flow into each other.


To move forward in a canoe, you also use the forward stroke technique. There are, however, a number of things you must pay particular attention to. At step 1, inserting the paddle, it is important to paddle really close to the boat. The closer you paddle to the boat, the less you will deviate from the forward stroke. In step 2, the leverage effect is very important in order to gain more power and to move forward faster. In step 3 and step 4, there are no additional points of interest.
The 4 phases of the forward stroke are also a continuous cycle in canoeing. This cycle is repeated every 5 to 20 strokes to the right and left in order to keep sailing straight ahead. Note that when changing sides, your hands must change places. In the beginning, try to pay attention to each phase. After an hour or so this will flow smoothly into each other.


In addition to sailing forward, it is also useful to be able to change direction. There are 3 possibilities that can be used in kayaking and canoeing. First, you can slowly change direction. To achieve this, you paddle 2 or 3 times along the same side. When you paddle right, you will go left and vice versa. Secondly, you can use a bow stroke to make a large turn. To do this, first bring your body fully forward to stick the paddle as close to the boat and as far into the water as possible. Then you make a wide arc in the water far from the boat (see photo). You only pull on the lower arm, the upper arm has no pushing effect here. Finally, you can counter-steer to change direction. When counter-steering, the paddle is brought into the water from the back to the front. When you paddle right, the boat will go right and vice versa. The disadvantage of this stroke is its great loss of speed.

It is mainly the person at the back who will have to use these corrective strokes to change direction. This person will also have to be responsible for steering the boat. The person in front can continue to use the forward stroke to gain speed.


On the water it can happen that you fall over and your boat fills with water. In a kayak, you pull the boat to the side and tip it over as shown in the picture to let the water out. With the canoe this is a bit more difficult. When the canoe is filled with water, you cannot lift it easily. So it is best to pull your canoe with 2 on the side and lift it inch by inch so that the water can slowly flow out. A small bucket can also be a great help to free the canoe of water. Take plenty of time because it takes a while to get all the water out of the boat.

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