A private rowing trip is appealing. Some rowers prefer to join a group of people whom they don’t know in order to meet international scullers. Others like the idea of travelling with those they are familiar with, especially in terms of rowing abilities. Take the crew magic to a new location or create a club perk through travel. During the Covid-19 pandemic, travelling within your rowing bubble has extra merit.
Top private rowing trip destinations
Once you have decided that a private rowing tour is the ticket, where are you going to go? You could choose one of our current destinations, select from our listing of past and potential trips or ask us to design a brand-new trip in your dream location. We love creating new tours, but caution that this can be time-consuming and more expensive. If you want to plan something for 2021 (health and travel restrictions permitting) or next year, here are our recommendations for the best private rowing trip destinations. We have excellent partners in these locations and the trips are well established. Might become just a matter of setting dates and ensuring availability of everything: your crew, our guides, the boats and accommodation.
1. River Thames, England
We call this Classic River Thames because it is the ultimate and iconic destination for rowers. with famous clubs, a rowing museum and beauty all around. Row where Olympians train and race, passing historic clubs, charming villages and famous landmarks against a scenic backdrop of meadows, forests and hills.
Our standard tour is 8 days, 7 nights with up to 6 days of rowing. This could be shortened or lengthened, and there is some flexibility to change the distances rowed on each day, provided docking and boat storage logistics can be sorted. Typically we run the tour with coxed touring quads, but for an experienced crew we can make an eight available. Coxed boats are essential, given the locks which must be negotiated, the winding nature of the river in the upper reaches and other boat traffic. Best times are early spring, later summer and the fall. Rowing shell availability is best in August when club and school programs are paused, but river traffic and wait times at locks can be higher. We get asked about running a trip immediately before or after one of the Henley regattas (Royal, women’s or masters’) and while this might be possible, accommodation is at a premium.
2. Lago Maggiore, Italy
If you have not yet explored this stunning lake, consider it for your private rowing trip. The scenery is beautiful, the accommodations excellent and as for the food, well this is Italy. You will be motivated to row extra kilometers. Our standard tour is 7 days, 6 nights with five days of rowing. Our local partners know the lake intimately and can shorten or lengthen your tour. We can also add a day or two of rowing at some of the other lakes in the region for your group. On this big lake with afternoon winds and waves and motorboat traffic, coastal quads, doubles and singles make distance rowing possible and pleasurable. Our partners have a substantial fleet of boats, meaning that a bigger group could be accommodated. The trip could be available April through October.
3. Cork & Carbery Islands, Ireland
We love Ireland and we love coastal rowing. Combine the two and you have a perfect rowing trip. In the past we have run this trip over 7 days, 6 nights and based in two locations in Co. Cork. That remains an ideal formula with our current partners. We have been approached by other rowing clubs in the area, potentially allowing an extension. It definitely would be worth giving some of the traditional boats a go, just to say you did it. We have rowing friends in other parts of Ireland, so could potentially customize a private rowing trip that takes you to very varied parts of the Emerald Isle. This destination requires more advance planning time, since our primary partner has limited availability plus the many festivals and events during the rowing season means accommodation must be secured early. Well worth the effort.
4. St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Petersburg draws tourists to its rich history, stunning architecture and distinctive culture. Its moniker, the Venice of the North, hints at rowing as an added reason to bring your club and crew here. Our standard tour offers 6 days, 5 nights in the imperial city, followed by 2 days out of the city to explore the Russian countryside, on the Volga or Neva Rivers. We have previously created an extension to Novgorod for a private group, should you prefer to visit another spectacular city. One of our guides is not only a rower but also a certified cultural tour leader. Row in the mornings and dive into fascinating culture and history in the afternoon, including the Hermitage, Petershof and the Fabergé Museum. August is definitely the preferred month to travel and row here, offering the best weather.
5. British Columbia, Canada
Our BC Wilderness Rowing Tour is an exceptional and popular rowing trip. This could be the perfect choice for your club. The small size of the lodge means commitments have to be locked in by November of the previous year to be sure to get space. June and August are the best months, but regardless, you are going to a northern rain forest – get it? Northern. Rain. So, whenever you go it might be cool, grey and raining. Or brilliant sunshine. Regardless, it is spectacular, even if the scenery is glimpsed through the mist.
There are many other options in this beautiful province. Still on Vancouver Island, you can explore the Saanich Peninsula for a four or five day trip or luxuriate in couple of high end hotels on the Gulf Islands. Or for the more adventurous, a camping option could be organized. On the mainland, we have a Vancouver sampler tour we can put together, where you can row at half a dozen different clubs in the mornings and spend your afternoons exploring this iconic city at the edge of nature. We could also create a private tour of Lake Okanagan in the heart of BC’s wine country. So many wonderful choices!
6. Prince Edward Island, Canada
On the opposite side of the country from BC, Canada’s smallest province has big rowing travel opportunities. Our past trips have combined rowing in the capital, Charlottetown with a stay at a country resort to explore different coastal scenery. We have also previously combined a stay in Nova Scotia – although this would only be possible for small groups given limitations in available boats there. The rowing season starts late in this part of Canada, so plan for July, August and potentially September. Things close up tight as a lobster trap come Canadian Thanksgiving in early October.
7. South Island, New Zealand
What isn’t there to love about New Zealand? Well, actually the weather and the winds can be problematic. April is absolutely the best time to travel and row, but then everyone else has the same idea. We have had some success on a past trip in November. Regardless, back up activities are essential, since rowing may not be possible when planned. Luckily there is excellent walking, as well as wineries, historic villages and other activities. We have run this trip in a sampler format, meaning that we move to various lakes and rivers as opposed to a point-to-point tour. This offers maximum flexibility and opportunity for planning your private rowing trip.
8. Western Cape, South Africa
This is a favourite past trip destination of ours, and we look forward to returning one day. There are several modules which can be combined to create the trip of your dreams. Begin in Cape Town with both coastal and flatwater rowing. Head east to the Brede River or options on the Klein River and Hermanus. Or perhaps head north from Cape Town for a few days on the Berg River and exploring the Langebaan shore. Best times are in April and early December, or wildflower season in late August, early September. Be sure to plan a little extra time for the many other highlights of what is considered to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
How to start planning your private or club rowing tour
Contact us! We have a checklist of things to consider. Planning is most successful when there is a lead organizer or small group of two or three. It can take some effort to coordinate with your crew members, so planning early is recommended. Time to start dreaming of that perfect, bucket list rowing destination trip for you and your friends or family!