Fifty Places to Paddle Before You Die|
Kayaking and Rafting Experts Share the World's Greatest Destinations
Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 224 pp, HC, $24.95
Fifty Places to Paddle is as close to the most perfect travel book as I have ever come across. In fact it has to have been designed to travel. Its size is comfortably manageable (7 3/4x8 1/4 ) to stuff in your pack or prop on your lap. Meticulously organized...each destination includes a spectacular representative photograph, two to three pages of lucid descriptive text written by the kayak or rafting expert who recommends it. The text is followed by ability ratings with detailed descriptions of the most challenging passages; what to bring; seasonal weather patterns and water temperature and conditions; and travel directions. Most of the contributors are in the business of leading the trips and, judging by the amount of critical detail they each have tons of experience and enthusiasm.
I have only paddled quiet local waters. This book gave me the full scope of the sport...that is, it does not dwell on the derring do, rather on the variety of water bodies, scenery, surrounding wild and plant life. The water bodies are discussed by levels of difficulty according to topography, season, type and temperature of the water, camping amenities, weather effects and many other helpful details. Over and over, I was awed by the natural beauty displayed in the photographs as well as excitement; not only of being shown such exotic places on earth but the fun it must be to be in such a simple non-invasive craft with like-minded appreciation.
The downside (not of the book-- it is all just plain gorgeous) is the cost of travel. At the end of each description of the actual kayak trip, travel costs to the destination are listed. If you are a New Englander, you may choose to sign up for one of the two the recommended Maine trips... the St. Croix or the Greater Damariscotta and avoid the travel expense entirely. If you have the money and choose something exotic like the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe, your travel costs will be in the several thousand...so start saving before you read the book because I'll bet you'll be going somewhere exotic.