Amigos da Pagaia

O portal da Canoagem de Turismo em Portugal
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“Amigos da Pagaia”, a portuguese portal on kayak touring...

“Amigos da Pagaia” is a portuguese portal on kayak touring, with no comercial purposes. The site was born near Lisbon, written in portuguese for home consumption. For such reason, until not too far ago, we never cared about coming up with some readings in english, it seemed not to be of some interest by the time.
As time passed by, the amount of long distance visitors grew up, bringing the motif for taking a little step forward. We don’t intend to produce a clone version in english, wouldn’t make much sense and it would demand tons of work from such a small team and lots of trouble to solve along the process.

Read more about the History, How we do it, Paddling, The fleet, The territory...

This component we are now adding, is just a small project, that intends to allow non-portuguese readers, to understand the basics of what’s going on kayaking, around 39ºN, 08ºW, from a bunch of paddlers point of view.

To show a bit, what meaning has the word, “paddling”, in this part of the world, for us at the least...type of paddling, the paddlers, giving a general overlook on the paddling territory, the landscape, and perhaps more, we’ll see in due time. Matters that concern this site have developed at higher rate than firstly expected, so, we can never tell for sure.


Born in 2003, “Amigos da Pagaia” (lets translate as “Paddle’s Friends”), came up from the need to establish a link between anonymous kayakers in a local/regional basis. This link, would allow communication and make possible for them to know other people with the same recreational interests, and also, for them to get known.
For safety demands, and to have someone to talk to, others than birds and fishes, most people requires a kayaking fellow, and many times, those few who start by themselves, or live in a town that they only know one or two other kayakers, might have a hard time finding out available companionship.

Internet brought this huge capacity of putting many of us together, making possible for many more to practise on a regular basis, in more pleasant and safer conditions, to reach greater distances and sometimes deal with daring elements.

By the time this was written, despite the number of registered people, those who come up now and then, do not exceed 50 elements or so...however, those, spread all over the country, mostly centre and north, in shorter numbers at south, manage well enough to keep things rolling almost weekly, around the year, and covering the whole country.

Such a success, was not foreseen by those who started the whole process just in 2003.

If looking by numbers and watching around, by comparison with other countries, kayak touring has no meaning at all in this country. If kayak racing is still represented by a few thousand athletes, day or multi day touring, until short time ago, seemed to be mostly unknown.

In a national scale, this net site stands for a project that has some meaning when kayaking touring is mentioned.

We keep spreading the word, and mostly, the image, trying to turn regular people into kayakers, and recovering some of them from naphthalene into action, reaching from those who didn’t even knew what a sea kayak was and were used to run inflatables on beaches and dams, to those former racers who couldn’t find a reason to stay on water anymore.

For those in regular action, we grant the chance to easily put up some nice weekend or day paddlings of different kinds to different tastes in healthy companionship along with already known fellows or someone new.

At our own pace, we remain joining people with a common interest and scouting for new victims, like a contagious disease...

How we do it

After registration, one can post messages into forums, those are split in three groups, there can be found a first forum on general issues, those don’t fit neither the technical forum nor the activities forum. Another one on kayaking related technical matters and a third, helping visitors with the portal. If any problems arise when registering, please e-mail webmaster.

Second group is the mainstay, with two forums on kayaking activities: one on multi-day paddling and another on single day touring. Proposals to go out on a paddle, where, how long, when, how, who...etc, is put all together in this section.

Third group is just to announce used items someone wants to buy or sell. It seems that people here, buy new and don’t sell it anymore...

At “Home”, can be found articles describing activities already done...don’t think they ever will be translated, but they are there, and some of them are worth to read. Grab the challenge...

Multi-day usually means a two days weekend. Three days paddlings are rare to happen, four days might happen one or twice a year, more than that, paddlers just went out for hollydays and left kayaks back home, or they took them, crossed the border and are likely to be found somewhere in Spain.


Paddling in Portugal has different meanings, just like about everywhere. For some decades, kayaking meant some kind of racing and maybe, one or other river descent in some bathtub like floating devices. That was about all. With no certainty, touring possibly started in the early 80’s in a meaningless way. By that time, a small but growing, kayak manufacturing home industry, starts supplying racers, polo players and latter the sea kayaking market. Export was the aim, then and today. Home kayakers hardly appear in high visibility places and extreme enterprises, and racers don’t often reach the podium in championships, however, portuguese built composite kayaks reached high quality standards and innovation, and one of those companies is today a reference in the racing world.

In the meanwhile, white water’s start having some weight in kayaking, especially after plastics coming in the market.

Racing goes on as number one, white waters, surf, rodeo and others performed with short plastic boats take 2nd place, leaving sea kayaking and different types of touring to the last place, far back. No official statistics, just what it seems...

What we do with

We go on...dams, estuaries, rias, rivers and sea too, sometimes...keeping sea activities for summer and dams for winter.

The fleet

Depending on how long and how much wind to face, sometimes the fleet might get composed by a miscellaneous ranging from beach like inflatables, rafts, sit-on-top, plastic river and sea kayaks to composite last generation touring and almost racing kayaks.
How we manage to go along with each others?...well, we don’t, subgroups naturally come up according different paces. As long as nobody gets alone and leading group stops at reunion points from time to time, everything goes well.
Of course, after a couple of weekends padlling an inflatable against the wind, two things might happen, one-the victim gives up and goes back to beach weekends, and only comes back to the shortest promenades; two-the victim gets another boat, usually composite or plastic sea kayak.

The territory - General overlook

Continental Portugal has an area close to 90,000 sq/km, within a rectangular shape wich major axis develops north-south. 580km in length, spanning from 110 to 215km; enclosed between Spain and the Atlantic Ocean, here relies the most western point of continental Europe.

A country that has pushed its population into the coast leaving growing large and almost uninhabited areas in the interior, creating an overpopulated corridor along the coast line, from Setúbal to its northest point, and also along all the south coast, here, mostly under tourism development pressure.

Top end physical phenomena do not occur in the territory (no big mountains, no huge rivers, big waterfalls, deep canyons, dense high tree forests or desert like areas, active volcanoes, glaciers, major floods, extreme hot or cold, and so on...some severe droughts are available now and then).
Considering such a small area, the geographic diversity is however notable, as we refer to its geomorphology, vegetation or even climate.
If someone pick’s up the best select of highways and follows the path from one extreme to the other, crossing the country in 6 or 7 hours, it will be able to appreciate deep changes in landscape.
A general idea remains: north from Tagus river, hilly and mountainous, south from Tagus river, slightly hilly or flat. Greener up, yellow-brownish down. More rivers with more water in the north; at sea, an easier sea, and, in many respects, more appealing south coast.

Coastal waters

800 km coast line, excluding two main estuaries, and two “Rias”; 640 km on the western coast and160 km on the southern coast. Western coast line is mostly uncluttered leaving almost no sheltered sectors. North and northwest winds prevails most of the year. Southern coast tracks a more irregular path and winds hit most from southeast. Soutwest winds at any coast sector usually means bad weather.

Ocean water temperature ranges from 12 to 16Cº in the winter up to 15 to 22Cº in summer, rising from north to south in the west coast and west towards east in south coast. Southern coast of Algarve is always slightly warmer.

Air temperature along coast line is above 0Cº year round, easily reaching 30 or even more on the summer. Unlike northern Europe cost line, this one, does not benefict from the Gulf current warmer waters.

Weather seasons are not quite well marked as they used to be. Days or weeks of fine weather in winter and relatively quite seas are often encountered by these latitudes, talking of latitude, latitude is the main reason that justifies such weather variability and makes seasons to behave differently every year. Coldest month usually is January, and typically, July the hotest. August is a surprise every year, changing from dry and hot to less hot and rainy. The windiest months on the coast, under good weather conditions are August and September.

Inland waters – rivers and dams

Water courses designated as rivers exceeds 200, most of them quite small, some almost invisible or just dried in summer time. A few dozens are possible to padle in variable distances year round.

Lets assume that there are eight main rivers in the country. From those, four reach our border on their way from Spain towards the Atlantic. Three of those are the longest that cross the portuguese territory.

Their length - Kms (includes sectors common to both portuguese and spanish border)

Minho – 75
Douro – 325
Mondego – 220
Zêzere – 240
Tejo – 275
Sado – 180
Mira – 145
Guadiana - 250

Hydro Electric dams exist along most the main rivers.

Amongst these, there are a few allowing multi day touring on composite boats, with short portages between dam and the next reservoir this is more likely for the ones that own successive dams on their way.

Text by AP -LV-

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