Five beautiful SUP tours through the Little Kingdom
Words: Véronique Musumeci & Sascha Baltes. Photos: Véronique Musumeci
Véronique Musumeci is a true water woman. She lives in the countryside near Brussels, the Belgian capital, just 30 minute’s drive to most of the Belgian rivers and canals. She loves outdoor sports, discoveries, photography and being in nature. Since 2018, SUP is her sport of choice and in this short story, she shares with us, her five favourite Belgian spots for SUP’ing.
During the summer of 2017, Véronique experienced SUP for the first time during a road trip, leading to Macedonia. She saw a SUP board on the edge of the lake and wanted to try it by herself. There, she paddled in the middle of the breathtaking Matka Canyon. As a sports lover, Véronique learned it fast.
One year later, Véronique travelled to the Philippines, where she rented SUP equipment. On this holiday, she did a more extended session and fell in love with the sport of SUP.
Back in Belgium, she bought her first inflatable board and started to explore the rivers, channels and lakes of her home country, where she tries to get on the water as often as possible.
Next, to stand up paddling, she created a collaborative website, http://www.supandsee.sharetribe.com, where paddlers from all over the world can share their favourite spots. She also wrote the first SUP guidebook of Belgium, ‘SUPandSEE Belgique’ where she shares her 26 favourite spots as well as practical advice.
Here are five of Véronique’s preferred waterways in Belgium:
The Dyle river in Mechelen
The Dyle River flows through the three Belgian provinces of Brabant Walloon, Flemish Brabant and Antwerp. It springs by Houstain-le Val and flows after 86km together with the Nete River. From this point, they form the Rupel River. One of Véronique’s favourite parts is by Mechelen, where you can paddle through the beautiful UNESCO classified town. There, you will see picturesque bridges, typical Flemish houses and nature. This unusual SUP city tour is 100% recommendable!
Entering the water: you can use a wooden pontoon 51°01’22.4″N 4°29’19.4″E close to the city centre. A city tour through Mechelen is a 4.6km round trip. Note: parking is expensive around the pontoon.
The Dender river
The Dender is a 65km long river, which flows by Dendermonde in the Scheldt River. It flows through the three Belgian provinces of Hennegau, East Flanders and Flemish Brabant. Véronique’s preferred section is between the towns Erembodegem and Ninove. This part of the river is beautiful in nature. Fields and trees all the way. Sometimes, boats pass by but they navigate so slowly that these ships are not dangerous for SUPers. You will cross some locks and a small charming harbour where a couple of sport boats are located on this section. This part of the river is beautiful, and you will meet many animals like ducks, blue herons, geese and cute hummingbirds. A particularly Belgian touch: hops on the banks! On windless days, the river will offer you a beautiful reflection of the surrounding trees and nature. You will also see the fishes swim under your board.
Entering the water: via a wooden pontoon at the Hogeweg in Erembodegem 50°55’12.4″N 4°03’35.6″E. You can go in the water under the bridge, which crosses the river. A paddle tour to Teralfene is an 8km round trip. To Ninove, you will have to portage twice to bypass the locks to go up further. The session until Ninove is 14.86km. You can choose to paddle back when you wish.
The Damme Canal
The Damme canal is located in the Belgian province of West-Flanders and connects the historic town, Brugge, with the Western Scheldt, the south Netherlands inlet and estuary from the River Scheldt. The assignment to build this channel came from Napoleon Bonaparte himself. Here you can see beautiful symmetrical Maryland poplars reflecting on the water, a cute little bridge, and a magnificent windmill. Sometimes, you can meet sheep at the grasslands on the shore. Water lilies and big goldfishes can also be seen during this tour. The water is very clean and you can even swim in designated areas.
Entering the water: you will find a swimming staircase to enter the water at the end of the Gemeneweidestraat 51°13’48.0″N 3°15’00.5″E. At three kilometres, keep your eyes open, you will discover the charming ‘Schellemollen’ Windmill. The round trip is 12km.
The Moervaart Canal
The Moervaart Canal is a 23km long channel connecting the Durme River with the Ghent- Terneuzen-Channel in the Netherlands. This one is only used for pleasure boating and offers generous natural surroundings. The shores offer you many flowers and in the water, you can see water lilies. Also, you can paddle under four classified bridges, near different houses at the shores with beautiful gardens, which ends directly at the channel. Many animals will cross your way, like different birds, ducks, blue herons and fishes. The highlight of this session is the Vapor-Bridge in Moerbeek, a classified lift bridge over the Moervaart. The sun rises just behind this magnificent bridge. An early SUP session there will leave you with breathtaking images.
Entering the water: the best access to discover the classified charming bridges would be the pontoon number one situated at 51°09’54.8″N 3°51’38.3″E. That tour is a 10.8km round trip. There are five official pontoons on this waterway; you can choose where you want to enter the water. The whole distance from this channel is 23 kilometres. Véronique paddled the whole distance in two days and slept one night in a tent.
The Leie river
The Leie flows through France and Belgium. It starts in the Lisbourg area and flows after 202 kilometres in Ghent (East-Flanders) in the River Scheldt. Véronique’s favourite sections at the Leie River are in Ghent and in Sint-Martens-Latem. There, you can see many water lilies, weeping willows, fancy houses and houseboats. It feels like Miami! In addition, a yacht club near a photogenic iron bridge is the perfect place to cool off with a drink on the terrace. In Ghent, the Leie brings you to the heart of the medieval city. A tour there is an incredible experience; the town is a real gem. Arriving at the Castle of Gravensteen is, for her, the highlight of this tour.
Entering the water: there is a public wooden pontoon at the Meerstraat in Sint-Martens-Latem 51°01’19.8″N 3°38’23.3″E. The session to the small yacht club is around a 13.5km round trip. You can, of course, continue further if you wish. The tour in Ghent is 7.2km round trip. You can enter the water via some stone steps at 51°03’09.0″N 3°43’45.1″E just in front of the castle of Geeraard de Duivelsteen.