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The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is just around the corner. Join New Mexico Kayak Instruction as we paddle down the Rio Grande during this world-renowned event. Imagine yourself among hundreds of balloons; some near, some far, some overhead, some just a few feet away doing a Splash 'n Dash.
"A five-star experience!" Kim Feldman, Albuquerque, NM
"Balloons near-far, no matter. That was a great way to enjoy the balloon fiesta. Good people!" Heidi Rothenberg, Albuquerque, NM
“The Balloon Fiesta Kayak Tour was undoubtedly the most surreal kayaking experience I've ever had! All these massive orbs of bright colors descending around us and blasting the early morning river silence with their roaring burners. Unbelievable!” Rem Smith (57), Albuquerque, NM
Frequently Asked Questions:
A: While we have well over 100 boats, we strictly limit our Specialty Tour sizes to 15 guest. This allows us to move quickly and efficiently on and off the water. Other tour companies may have as many as 30 - 40 guest on the water. If one person is late, everyone is late. If one person has trouble on the water, everyone pays the price.
Q: What are your guide ratios?
A: New Mexico Kayak Instruction maintains a guide ratio of 1 guide per 5 guest. The industry standard is 1 guide per 10 guest. Consider a group of 20 people; if one person has trouble on the water, and a guide stays behind to help that person out, the remaining guide has oversight for 19 people. With New Mexico Kayak Instruction, you're never more than a few feet from a certified instructor to help you out.
Q: What can you tell us about your boats and equipment?
A: New Mexico Kayak Instruction strives to customize every aspect of your experience, from the choice of boats and gear tailored to your build and physique to the things we may teach you along the way. With more than 100 kayaks in our program, we have the right kayak for any size and shape for any paddler, regardless of ability or experience. Our boats are individually sized, light weight, nimble, stable yet fast,
comfortable and easy to learn with; it's a very different experience
than using a one-size-fits-all kayak, or one-size-fits-all life jacket, commonly used among outfitters for quick turn-around.
Q: Is there enough water in the river?
A: This is a common question, and one of the biggest objections to kayaking in Albuquerque. Kayaks only need about 3-4 inches of water to float down the river. For the most part, the Middle Rio Grande through Bernalillo and Albuquerque can be paddled year-around even at very low flows, in part due to water laws affecting irrigation and endangered species. Some channels may be lower than others or the river may be wider in certain areas, thus shallower. Our guides paddle more than 100 days a year, personally and professionally, on flatwater and advanced whitewater. Their ability to read the river is key, and something they'll work with you on as you paddle down river. If a guest finds themselves on a sandbar, walking is never more than a few feet to the next channel.
Q: Will we see balloons on the trip?
A: On a typical year, we see hundreds of balloons in every direction on about 7 of the 9 days. On average, 1-2 days a year, the weather doesn't cooperate, usually due to higher winds at higher altitudes. On average, we'll see pilots splash 'n dash near us on about 5 days. Different factors determine whether a pilot will dip into the river. An upstream wind, or example, with a downstream river current, can cause a balloon to 'trip'.
Q: What if the balloons don't fly?
A: New Mexico Kayak Instruction will typically continue with our tours regardless of whether the balloons fly. Fall is a wonderful time to paddle on the Rio Grande as the 5400 acre cottonwood forest changes from green to gold and dozens of species of waterfowl migrate south for the Winter.
Q: Is one day better than another to see balloons?
A: Statistically, there is no better day than another. Mass Assension is a very popular day for all of Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta activities, but it's not necessarily a better day for kayaking. Often, even with winds from the north, pilots will launch from Bernalillo, Corrales, Sandia Pueblo, etc and fly into the Balloon Fiesta Park directly over the Rio Grande river.
Q: What are the credentials of your guides?
A: Unfortunately, New Mexico does not have a standard for river guides. New Mexico Kayak Instruction requires a 80hr guide training course which includes nearly 60 hour on advanced whitewater where precision and boat control must be demonstrated, as well as well as profficiency in rescues including rolling their kayak, swiftwater rescues, common-sense rescues, group management, risk management, and client ettiquite. Background checks are required meeting APS standards for interactions with minors and drug testing is performed at random. Those teaching classes must pass the American Canoe Association's Instructor Development Workshop / Instructor Certification Exam to teach at different levels, from flat water through adanced whitewater and open water sea kayaking.