25 Adventurous Books About Long Distance Kayaking Around The World

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I like kayaking, but just in a casual way. I get panicky in the water so long-distance kayaking isn’t something I see in my future but it is a topic I see a lot of in my future on my Kindle.

These long-distance kayaking books vary in distance and location but they are all incredibly impressive. I’ve only read one book about kayaking a long distance but as I made this list, I added a lot of them to my wishlist. Like, a lot.

I’ve been in such an adventure book mood so there are a lot of those coming soon. I thought I would spread them out more but I’m too excited about them.

So, here is a giant list of kayaking adventure books to take you around the world right from home. Maybe they’ll even inspire a trip of your own.

  • If you want to listen to some of these, consider trying Audible! You can get your first month free (one free book) plus tons of others they have for free.  Get that Audible deal here.
  • If you’re on more of a budget, try Scribd!  You can get your first month free there. You can read books and listen to audiobooks. It is unlimited (especially the reading) but if you listen to tons of new audiobooks you may be restricted after a few. I don’t listen to enough to confirm this, but I do use Scribd myself and like it a lot. Sign up for Scribd here!
  • Shop my collection of bookish goodies on Etsy! These aren’t my shop items, but other shops I’ve curated into a book-themed collection. Shop my Etsy bookish goodies here!
  • If you want to read more on your Kindle but don’t want to buy books, Kindle Unlimited is a wonderful option. It’s $9.99 a month but if you read a lot and like to read more than just new releases, it could be worth it. Get Kindle Unlimited here!
  • Get $5 off of $25 from BookOutlet! This is a great place to find new books for pretty cheap. They also have sales quite a bit, so keep an eye out for those. I tend to check here for books I want if they’re more expensive other places. They don’t have everything but they do have a lot. Shop BookOutlet here!
  • Thrift Books has become my go-to when I’m looking for a book and want it cheap. It’s great if you like buying used books. With this you can get a free book after spending $30!
  • Shop my book lists here! You can find every book list I have on Bookshop.org (except my monthly round-ups) and I add everything I can but they occasionally won’t have some. I do occasionally add extras though. If any lists are empty, they’ll be filled in shortly! Shop my bookshop.org book lists here.

Amazon Woman: Facing Fears, Chasing Dreams, and a Quest to Kayak the World’s Largest River from Source to Sea

On her 35th birthday, Darcy set off on a 148-day journey kayaking the entire length of the Amazon River with her boyfriend of twelve years and a mutual kayaking friend/colleague. The emotional waters encountered on the trip were often more difficult to navigate than the class five rapids on the river itself.

Along the way they encounter 25 days of whitewater rapids, illegal loggers, narco-traffickers, Shining Path rebels, ruthless poachers, and surprisingly friendly locals before reaching the triumphant end becoming the first woman to paddle the length of the entire Amazon.

Rowing to Latitude

Jill and her husband have traveled more than twenty thousand miles (!) in the Arctic and sub-Arctic waters. They carry all they need to be self-sufficient and, together, have battled treacherous waters, grizzly and polar bears, hurricane-force winds, and dragged their boats across the ice. But it wasn’t all bad. They were serenaded by humpback whales, admired by puffins, and enjoyed moments of calm. This is a celebration of their experiences in the northern waters.

I love reading about the Arctic (it’s one of the top places I want to visit) so I would love to read this one.

Inside: One Woman’s Journey Through the Inside Passage

In the spring of 2018, Susan’s world became her 18-foot sea kayak and the Inside Passage of Alaska. The 1,200-mile journey took her deep into herself and deep into Alaska where she grapples with fear and exhaustion while also forging friendships.

I have no desire to kayak long distances (though I do enjoy a casual paddle) this makes me think I should do it. But I know I won’t. I’ll stick to reading all these great outdoor adventure books by women.

Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman’s Skiff

This is technically rowing, but I’m counting it anyway.

Civil unrest and local traditions didn’t stop Rosemary from taking a solo trip down the Nile in a small boat. She begins in the south with the help of a Muslim sailor who provided a boat and insight into the lives of rural Egyptians. Egyptian women don’t row on the Nile and tourists aren’t allowed to for safety reasons.

She faces extreme heat, crocodiles, and her own deeply held beliefs about non-Muslim women as she connects to past chroniclers on the Nile.

Canyon Solitude: A Woman’s Solo River Journey Through the Grand Canyon

I don’t think I can do this description justice, so here is the official one straight from Amazon:

“It’s well known that Mother River doesn’t like a smart aleck,” says Patricia McCairen. Accordingly, she plies her oars with reverence and skill on a sometimes hair-raising solo rafting trip along the Colorado River that winds through the stupendous stone valleys of the American Grand Canyon. Like the waters of the Colorado, which change from long, still stretches to boiling white water that barely clothes sharp rocks and hides holes that can suck down a raft, McCairen’s moods–and even her name–change as the miles unwind. One moment, she’s the cocky, athletic river guide Babe; the next, she’s an earthier, more spiritual woman who answers to the name of Patch. Hours later, she seems more vulnerable, less convinced of her strength and joy in the solitude she so zealously courts. Canyon Solitude records these shifts and beautifully limns a journey that tests McCairen’s mettle and shows that determination, grit, and the will to spurn conventional rewards offer their own deep satisfactions.”

Around Iceland on Inspiration

Riaan Manser is South Africa’s best-known adventurer and this was his most daring, and coldest, adventure yet. He was going to kayak around Iceland with Dan Skinstad, who suffers from minor cerebral palsy.

As a team, they overcome daunting obstacles while learning how to work together. This is also apparently a controversial TV series that came out in 2012. Let me know if you’ve seen that and how it was!

Paddling North: A Solo Adventure Along the Inside Passage

This is a little different than your typical solo female travel book. Instead of setting off on a journey around the world, Audrey sets off at age 60 to paddle the southeast coast of Alaska alone in an inflatable kayak.

Around Madagascar on My Kayak

Riaan became the first person to cycle the entire perimeter of Africa, a whopping 37,000 km through 34 countries. Then in 2009, he became the first person to circumnavigate Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, by kayak. The 5,000 km journey took eleven months and was much more demanding mentally and physically. He endured lonely waters, and treacherous weather, but also got to spend time with Madagascar’s beautiful marine life.

Paddle to the Arctic: The Incredible Story of a Kayak Quest Across the Roof of the World

After paddling from Winnipeg to the Amazon, Don decided to paddle the 3,000 miles from the Hudson Bay through the Northwest Passage. This is the diary of his trip from Churchill, Manitoba to Tuktoyaktuk near Alaska which took three arctic summers and almost took his life.

I love the arctic so I would love to read this long-distance kayaking book.

On Celtic Tides: One Man’s Journey Around Ireland by Sea Kayak

This is the chronicle of the circumnavigation of Ireland by kayak combining insightful exploration with the history and traditions of Ireland.

Homelands: Kayaking the Inside Passage

This is the story of a couple’s five-month kayak journey from Glacier Bay, Alaska to the Puget Sound. It chronicles the beauty and fragility of the wild and their encounters with wildlife and fellow humans alike.

The Only Kayak: A Journey into the Heart of Alaska

This is Kim’s coming-of-middle-age memoir of her time kayaking Alaska, reborn from a massive glacier. She meets the people that call it home who are also reborn, beginning their lives anew.

I have no idea where this kayaking journey starts or ends but if you want to read about Alaska, this is the perfect long kayaking adventure book for you.

No Barriers: A Blind Man’s Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon

Erik Weihenmayer is the first and only blind person to summit Mount Everest and on the way down, his expedition leader said “don’t make Everest the greatest thing you ever do.”

In No Barriers, he answers that challenge. This is the story after his Everest descent; expeditions he led around the world with blind Tibetan teenagers, adopting his son from Nepal, and now solo-kayaking the Grand Canyon. Along the way, he meets other adventurers, scientists, artists, and activists who have broken through barriers of their own.

I would love to read this because it sounds truly incredible. This may be the ultimate kayaking adventure book.

Paddle Pilgrim: Kayaking the Fjords of Norway

This is the story of a month long paddling trip through the Sogne and Hardanger Fjords in Norway. Daily accounts of experiences, reflections on those experiences, and photographs are woven together to bring us right to the Fjords with David.

A Land Gone Lonesome

Dan left Dawson in his square sterned canoe to paddle the Yukon River to Circle City on an expedition into the history of the river and its inhabitants. Along the way, he explores the lives of a few clinging to the old ways even though government policies are erasing their way of life. This is a beautifully written portrait of the river and the people of the upper Yukon.

Adventure North: Black and White

After graduating high school early, Sean and Colton set off from Chaska, Minnesota to paddle 2,200 miles to the Hudson Bay. They follow the flooding Minnesota River through North Dakota and Lake Winnipeg to the Canadian North.

Fearless: One Woman, One Kayak, One Continent

Freya left everything behind to paddle alone and unsupported around Australia on a year-long adventure that everyone thought would get her killed. Not only did she plan to survive the 9,420-mile trip, but she planned to do it faster than any other paddler who did it.

Joe, a journalist and expert kayaker details the journey spent camping on deserted islands, encountering crocodiles and sharks, and the daring 300-mile open-ocean crossing that shaved three weeks off the trip. 332 days later, the adventure came to an end.

Hudson Bay Bound: Two Women, One Dog, Two Thousand Miles to the Arctic

I want to read this one so bad! Part because it sounds incredibly impressive, part because the cover is so good, and part because this sounds SO good!

Wind, snakes, and polar bears are just some of the obstacles Natalie and Ann face as they paddle the 2,000-mile route made famous by Eric Sevareid from Minneapolis to the Hudson Bay.

They are the first women to make this expedition and Hudson Bay Bound gives a look at the pitfalls they face and the planning it takes to make this three-month adventure of a lifetime a reality.

Canoeing with the Cree

The inspiration for Hudson Bay Bound, Eric and Walter, two novice paddlers, launch a secondhand 18-foot canvas canoe at Fort Snelling in 1930 for a summer-long journey from Minneapolis to the Hudson Bay.

They make their way over 2,250 miles of rivers, lakes, and portages with no radio, motor, or good maps and nearly four months later they arrive in the Hudson Bay.

Paddling My Own Canoe

On a flight between islands in 1958, Audrey noticed the roadless northeast side of Molokai and decided she needed to find a way to explore it. She later determines the best way to navigate the treacherous sea walls is to swim while pulling an inflatable kayak. This is the story of her planning, implementing her planning, and fulfilling her dream.

Point to Point: Exploring the Inside Passage by Kayak

This iis the story of the three-month, 1,250-mile solo kayak adventure through the Inside Passage. We get to experience the day to day challenges of a long distance solo paddle right alongside Denis while learning what it takes to complete such an ambitious goal.

Shooting the Boh: A Woman’s Voyage Down the Wildest River in Borneo

Part history, part adventure, Tracy takes us to the jungles of Borneo and down its wildest river. It’s honestly hard to know what to expect in this kayaking book because this is all the description says: “A thrilling, touching, and densely instructive book, Shooting the Boh is also a frank self-portrait of a woman facing her most corrosive fears–and triumphing over them–with fortitude and unflagging wit.”

Kabloona in the Yellow Kayak: One Woman’s Journey Through the Northwest Passage

In the summers from 1991 to 1994, Victoria, Fred, and Don set out to kayak the Inside Passage from Churchill, Manitoba to Tuktoyaktuk. In the first year, Fred dropped out from injury, Victoria suffered from internal bleeding ulcers while also recovering from a stroke.

IIn year two, she and Don made it to Gjoa Haven but she dropped out from edema caused by excessive fatigue while Don continued alone, almost succumbing to frostbite just 46 miles from Tuktoyaktuk.

Not content with her unfinished journey, she returns over the next two summers to complete the passage. Among the Inuit people, she became known as the Kabloona (the Inuktitut word for stranger) in the yellow kayak.

Paddle to the Amazon: The Ultimate 12,000-Mile Canoe Adventure

Don and Dana left Winnipeg in a three-seat canoe with no idea of the dangers that lay ahead. After two years and 12,180 miles, they had slept on beaches and in jungles, ate tapir and roasted ants, and were arrested and shot at but lived through it all to tell the tales here.

I would also really like to read this one because paddling 12,000 miles is mind-blowing!

Off the Map: A Journey Through the Amazonian Wild

The is the adventure of John Harrison and with wife Heather as they explore the unexplored region of the Amazon in the Guiana Highlands bordering Brazil.

With just a canoe and a shotgun, they follow the most remote tributary of the Amazon River with no means of contacting the outside world.

This one sounds really interesting, too and just added it to my wishlist! It’s perfect if you want a South America adventure book.

Have you read any of these long-distance kayaking books? Which ones? Are there any other books about kayaking long distances I should check out?

Author: Megan Johnson

I'm Megan, a cheesehead at heart currently residing in the Sunshine State. You can probably find me reading, watching Forensic Files, or both.

2 thoughts

  1. Thanks for the suggestions Megan! I’m reading Inside from Susan Marie Conrad right now and it’s so inspiring. I had the chance to meet her recently, and I’m thinking of paddling the Inside Passage someday. I think the next one I read will be Amazon Woman!


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