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Kayaking the Köprüçay River – A Novaraft Review

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An hour northeast of Antalya, Turkey, is an area of outstanding beauty called the Köprülü Canyon National Park. A gorge slices the landscape and at the bottom flows a river of the most beautiful blue, the Köprüçay River. You could visit, watching the river below from the ancient Roman bridge…which is all very nice, but to get the best out of this stream, you need to take to the water. We were excited to do just that, and so we found ourselves with on a kayaking trip with Novaraft. Read on for our Novaraft review.

Our kayaking trip was sponsored by Novaraft but all opinions are entirely our own.

Getting to Novaraft Base Camp

Novaraft runs a transfer service on certain dates if you are staying in nearby towns, including Antalya. However, our dates were a little wonky so we decided to hire a car for the day, driving ourselves up to the area and doing some sightseeing on the way back.  The roads were good and simple to navigate, but we did get stuck behind a big truck for a while which didn’t help our timekeeping! In all, from picking up the car, the journey took us 1hr 45m or so.

It is always a novelty hiring a car

Arriving at Novaraft Base Camp

We were greeted by the staff and met our guide for the day, Gizem. With a bit of time to sit and relax in their riverside dining area, we supped on a glass of Çay (tea) and watched the water.

Gizem told us that the rest of the group that we were meant to be rafting with had changed their schedule so we had two choices:

  • Wait three hours for them and raft as planned
  • Leave at the original time and take kayaks down the river instead

We opted for the kayaking and changed ready for the trip. The staff gave us a quick guide on how to use the paddle and we laughed slightly nervously. Often, putting the two of us in a shared kayak has lead to an argument.

We were given helmets and life jackets (essential safety kit) and kitted up, we jumped in the back of the jeep.

Köprülü Canyon

The most famous spot on the Korpulu river is the steep-edged canyon. The jeep drove us up and around this area, passing over two Roman bridges and giving us an amazing view.

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Looking straight down, into the water, it was almost turquoise, radiating blue. We saw two boat pass below us, packed with happily paddling occupants and we started to feel a mini adrenaline rush. Just a minute further down the road and we were at our launch site.

Learning to Navigate

Steering and paddling as a twosome are two skills that Mr Fluskey and I have never quite gotten the hang of. Gizem told us to follow her and we promptly drifted the wrong way, paddling furiously. She had to drag us over to the side so we weren’t immediately swept away by the current as we tried to remember how to turn a kayak.  The spot at which we entered the river was right by our first set of mini rapids. Gizem told us to watch her, then listen for her to blow a whistle before giving it a go ourselves.

We were about fourth in line when a couple managed to beach themselves on a rock in the middle of the river. I was pretty sure that we would be the next ones to get stuck.

Gizem disappeared from my view, whilst Mr Fluskey watched her, trying o describe what her path and all too soon, the whistle blew.

Here goes nothing!

We managed to navigate the rapids, getting pretty wet and with me screaming and laughing hysterically. Thankfully, there was no need to rescue us from the rock.

Riding the Rapids

Being in a kayak, the ride through the small rapids felt so very much more dramatic than on the larger rafts. I was thrilled, terrified and enjoying myself in equal measure. Falling out of the kayak would not have been the end of the world, but the thought of it scared me more than it probably should. Maybe it was due to the fresh water’s temperature which contrasted brutally with the lovely, warm sun.

Most of the time, we kept stable and upright. However, while navigating one particular section, we felt the inflatable kayak bend in the minute and legs flew up in front of me. I thought I was going to end up butt first in the water but instead, bumped back down into the boat laughing, squealing like a three-year-old and heart beating ten to the dozen!

The Köprüçay River

Running straight from the hills we could see in the distance, the water of the Köprüçay river was just beautiful. It looked blue from afar but it was blissfully clear up close.

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At one spot, we stopped and the water was so clean, Mr Fluskey had a drink straight from the spring.

As we travelled downstream we passed through areas shallow enough to wade in, and one or two spots full of happy, screaming swimmers. We opted to skip the swim…mostly because I was feeling wimpy. We did stop a couple of times to rest and take in the scenery though. I loved this rock wall (geography geek moment).

Oooooh those are some sexy striations

The Pirates

We shared the water with several other boats. There were a few kayaking groups, but the majority of our river-mates were larger rafts full of marauding Russian paddlers. When we got too close, they used their paddles to scoop up the water and deluge us. The rush of cold water down my back was always a surprise. Sadly, our complete lack of retaliation skill meant these were always one-way fights…we ALWAYS came off worse.

…and that is why our clothes are soaked through

Our Guide Gizem

Gizem had amazing kayaking skills. She was amazing at getting the pirates back and was the only way we retained a little of our dignity. Before every patch of rougher water, she explained which way we were to go and got us to tail her through a few to ensure we picked the smart paths. She looked like a Disney Princess tackling the rapids, hair streaming behind her à la Pocahontas. It is no wonder, as she is part of the family that founded Novaraft and has been living in and around the river for her whole life.

Back to Base

We were on the water for somewhere between ninety minutes and two hours bu the time flew and before we knew it, we were over the last set of mini rapids and the Novaraft base camp was slipping around the bend towards us. We stumbled out of the boat with slightly wobbly sea legs.

As part of the COVID safety measures, we dunked our life jackets and helmets in disinfectant and left them to dry. The big rafting group had arrived and were being kitted up. It was a huge group so I was very glad we had chosen to do it alone. It would have pretty hard to integrate.

Novaraft has a changing block so we both grabbed our dry clothes from the car and freshened up, ready for lunch.

Lunch at Novaraft

One of the most surprising thing about booking with Novaraft is the value for money. For less than £20, you get the transfer service and you get your river time, but you are also served lunch…and it is a very tasty lunch!

We were given the option of chicken or fish, and being total seafood nuts we obviously picked the fish. We were excited to find out that they were caught from the river at the camp so it was as fresh as it gets. The chef has a speciality which involves wrapping the fish in vine leaves and ensuring that it stays super moist and tender. Alongside, we had beans in a tomato sauce, rice, bread and a huge salad. We couldn’t finish it!

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Final Thoughts on Kayaking the Köprüçay River with Novaraft

We had a whale of a time with Novaraft (and no, that isn’t a pun when you are in freshwater). There are so many rafting companies in the area, all listing the river in different terms, but all operating on the same stretch of water. We picked Novaraft over the others as it was set up by a family who love the river, respect the safety of their guests and proved to be flexible enough to take us on our very own trip down the Köprüçay. To find out lots more about Novaraft, and to book directly, check out the Novararaft website here.

I feel embarrassingly proud of Mr Fluskey and I for managing the kayak,  and not ending up going head over heels in the river. Many have done it, and many more will, but considering we can barely manage a kayak on flat water usually, I think we did well. I put off rafting for years for some reason I still can’t get my head around. Now, however, I am SO ready to try it again. If only we lived nearer Novaraft and could just pop on over! I fear the weather in the UK is not quite right to make it a regular thing here. At least, not for a lizard like me. Time to plan some more travels to warmer climes I think.

Rosie xx

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