Kayaking/Canoeing in Lake Louise, Alberta

Lake Louise, June 2020

General Info

The Banff area has some of the most beautiful waters for canoeing and kayaking.

Canoe and kayak rental season in the area begins whenever the lakes thaw, which is usually around June, and ends towards the end of September.

The hours of operation vary from 10/11:00am to 6/7:00pm daily, though no rentals are typically allowed in the last hour. For example, in mid-June, Lake Louise kayaking closed at 6pm, so the last rental was at 5pm.

Boat rentals are typically available for either a half an hour or an hour. During slow seasons, you may be lucky enough to be allowed to rebook for additional time when you dock.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise is famous for its stunning turquoise lakes, the beautiful Victoria Glacier in the backdrop.

Though you can experience this beauty from the shores, canoeing/kayaking is a truly magnificent way to get even more up close and personal!

There is only one kayak/canoe rental on Lake Louise and it is operated by the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel aka. the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Boathouse. The boathouse is located on your right hand side if you are facing the lake, with the hotel behind you.

Canoes are available on a first come, first serve basis. They can’t be reserved.

The lake is patrolled by lifeguards who are employed by the canoe rental company. Life jackets are also provided, and are not optional.

Prices

Prices for rentals vary by season: early season (June/July), peak season (late July/August) and late season (Fall/early-September). Early season prices are $65 CND per hour and $55 CND per half hour. These prices do not include taxes. Line-ups can get quite long; get there early!

Lake Louise Canoe/Kayak Rental Prices, June 2020

Early season prices for Fairmont Chateau, Lake Louise hotel guests are $45 CND per hour and $35 CND per half hour. Prices do not include taxes. There is a guest priority line that is separate from the general public. A room key is required as proof you are a guest of the hotel.

Hotel guests can book an evening canoe experience where they can avoid the daytime crowds for $85 CND per canoe for one hour. It departs at 8:15pm. Reservations must be made by 6pm the day before and cancellations after 6pm and no shows will not be refunded.

Requirements

The maximum number of people allowed in the canoes is 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 small children under 55 lbs. One person in the boat must be at least 16 years of age. For more information, visit the Fairmont Chateau, Lake Louise.

Getting There

If you are driving, the best way to get to the canoe/kayak spot is to search for Lake Louise (North Lakeside). The closet airport to Lake Louise is the Calgary International Airport. It is roughly a two hour drive from Calgary to Lake Louise, but there are many other ways to get to Lake Louise and the Banff area from Calgary if you do not want to drive.

Tips Before You Go

  • Check the weather forecast: the weather changes rapidly and the rental office closes if it becomes too windy, rainy, fogged in or heavy snow falling.
  • Dress warm: the temperatures in the mountains (Banff and surround areas) remain lower longer than other areas of Alberta/Canada. Mornings and evenings, even in the late summer, may also be cold. I travelled in mid-June and though it was 10°C when we first arrived, it was almost 4°C by 4:00pm.
  • Bring Extra Clothes: water temperatures are typically 2°C or lower, so if you fall in, those extra clothes will come in handy!
  • Bring sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses: the crystal clear water is very reflective on warmer days, save yourself the discomfort and come prepared.

Have your own Kayak or Canoe?

You may also bring your own canoe or kayak to use at Lake Louise or any other lakes or rivers within the Banff National Park. However, there’s no official public boat launch spot, so you will have to carry your canoe from the parking lot area and launch it from shore of the lake.

More information on managing your own canoe or kayak is available at the Parks Canada website.

Guide to Devil’s Pool, Victoria Falls

Everything you need to know before venturing into the deep!

The Devil’s Pool is the highlight of any trip to Zambia or Zimbabwe – yes, this excursion can be accessed from both countries!

The Devil’s Pool is a naturally occurring pool of water that sits directly on the edge of the Victoria Falls, on Livingstone Island. Getting to the pool requires strong swimming skills because you must swim your way to the area where the pool is located. Part of the swim goes through an area with a very strong current.

FYI – THIS IS NOT HOW YOU SEE VICTORIA FALLS.

Devil’s Pool only shows you only a portion of the back of Victoria Falls. If you want to see the full Falls, you must cross the border into Zimbabwe. Both Canadian and US citizens need a visa to enter Zimbabwe, but the visa is very easy to purchase and can be bought at the border. For more details about Victoria Falls/visas click here.

When to visit:

The best time to visit is during the drier months: mid-August to mid-January. The water levels are much lower, and the currents are not as strong.

I went on January 2nd, 2020 and the water levels were just perfect

Safety! Safety! Safety:

Since the tour was established in the early 1990s, there have been no fatalities at the Devil’s Pool. The staff are very knowledgeable, strong swimmers and make sure to put your safety first.

While on the boat across the Zambezi River to Livingstone Island you are provided with life jackets.

At the Devil’s Pool, there are ropes in place just before the edge of the pool, in case anything goes wrong, these would be able to hold you back.

Tour details (times and prices):

There are five trips a day to the Devil’s Pool, each lasting roughly 2 hours. Alcohol is served on each of the lunch and high tea options, details below:

Morning Breezer – 7:30am/9:00am/10:00am – US $100

  • This option does not include food.

Lunch – 12:30pm – US $165

  • This option includes a three-course lunch and alcoholic beverages after the swim.

High Tea – 3:30pm – US $140

  • This option includes an assortment of sandwiches and teas and alcoholic beverages after the swim.

The Morning Breezer was my preferred option but it books fast so I ended up on the lunch option. I have no regrets; the food was amazing!

How to book:

  • In person – tour operators like Wild Horizons and Tongabezi and more; or
  • Online – trip adviser or Tongabezi’s website (tour operator) and more.

Though you may be able to get a discount of up to US $10 off by booking in person, please, please book in advance! This tour is one of the best selling in the Victoria Falls area and sells out fast, especially the Morning Breezer option.

What to bring/wear:

I never leave my water shoes behind for any water activities!

Bathing suit

You can also do this activity in shorts and a t-shirt if you like, but if not, don’t forget your bathing suit.

Camera/phone to take pictures

While some activities will hassle you for ‘professional’ photographs, there are no photographers available for this activity. All pictures are taken for you by the guides, but with your device. They do not have a photographer or cameras on site. You must bring your own.

Water shoes

The rocks in the pool are quite jagged but also slippery. Water shoes will help you maintain your footing as you make your way to the pool and when you are at the pool. They will also keep the little fish in the water from accessing your feet.

You do not need to bring a towel; plenty are provided.

Can’t swim? No problem!

If you can’t swim, you can still take the boat ride to Livingstone Island – the place where David Livingstone first saw the Falls. Here the guides will explain a little bit about his history and show you the plaque commemorating him.

You can also take pictures in the Angels Pool, located right by the plaque. Its is a very shallow pool that offers comfort and safety while still experiencing the amazing view and thunderous roars of the falls.

What to expect – from the Zimbabwean side:

  • Meet your driver at the Elephant Hills Hotel.
  • The driver will take you to the Zambian border and help you cross over and hand you over to the Zambian driver waiting for you on the other side.
  • Zambian driver will take you to the ‘Launch Point’ where you will catch the boat Livingstone Island.

Tip: If you are taking this tour from the Zimbabwean side, I highly recommend you get your own driver instead of the one you’ll be offered through the tour companies. It will cost your group US $5.00 from your hotel to the border and US $5.00 from the border to the ‘Launch Point’, if you find your own taxi. This option also allows you the flexibility to remain in Livingstone and explore the surrounding markets.

If you take the driver offered by the tour company, it will cost you $15 per person round trip from Elephant Hills Hotel AND you will have to find your own way to Elephant Hills if you are not already staying there.

What to expect – from the Zambian side:

  • 5-minute boat ride to the Livingstone Island
  • Welcome drink – Mahue – traditional southern African fermented beverage made from ground corn meal.
  • Short tour of Livingstone Island including the David Livingstone monument.
  • Here you’re also provided an opportunity to change if you don’t already have your bathing suit on.
  • Begin your Devil/Angel’s Pool Adventure!
  • Lunch or high tea
  • 5-minute boat ride back to the ‘Launch Point’
  • Back to Royal Livingstone Hotel

Is Devil’s Pool worth it?

By now I’m sure you’re wondering, “Is this activity worthwhile?” The answer is, “Absolutely!” This activity was so thrilling. Both my sister and I had an awesome time. There is a reason this activity has grown into the most popular and profitable activity in Victoria Falls!

Have you been to the Devil’s Pool? What was your experience like? Feel free to add to this guide in the comments below!

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