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After decades of exploring, where do the boldest sea kayakers, whitewater boaters and canoe trippers fantasize about paddling? That’s the question that inspired Paddling Magazine to query some of our long-time contributors and favorite nomadic aquaphiles to ask after their dream destinations, most challenging expeditions and what a life of exploration really means anyways.

In this series of profiles, these exceptional water-wanderers share their top trips, best advice and biggest blunders. And whether their ambitious journeys were taken in the name of discovery, education, environment or glory, these legends affirm what we already know: There’s far more to explore by paddle than anyone could fit in a lifetime—but don’t let that stop you from trying.

Nouria Newman has been pushing the boundaries of whitewater for a decade. The ex-slalom boater has claimed first descents, dominated competitions and paddled some of the world’s most challenging whitewater, including the Stikine’s Site Zed. Earlier this year, Newman snagged the first descent of Pucuno Falls in Ecuador and became the first woman to run a 100-foot waterfall.

Location: Tignes, France
Occupation: Professional kayaker
Next project: An expedition in Ecuador, “but these days, nothing is sure.”


Woman wearing PFD, helmet, sprayskirt and drysuit. She is holding a kayak paddle in one hand, and a whitewater kayak in the other. She is standing in front of a waterfall.
Nouria Newman, ready for adventure. | Photo: Erik Boomer

Q & A with Nouria Newman

1 One river I dream of returning to is…

the Tsangpo in Tibet, or the Stikine.

“This location still captivates me because I have so many good memories from that river,” says Newman. “I will never forget the feeling when I first entered the canyon. A sense of pure freedom, fear mixed with excitement. It was just beautifully overwhelming, and at this point, there was no turning back. That’s what I wanted to do with my life.”

2 One place I dream of paddling is…

Pakistan. I want to paddle there because if this place is known to have the most beautiful mountains in the world, it must have the most beautiful rivers too.

3 My biggest pet peeve is…

lack of critical thinking and Internet trolls.

4 One thing I can’t live without is…

the important people.

5 The greatest advice I ever got was…

never to forget to have fun and that was from a friend who knew me better than I knew myself.

6 The kayaks I’m paddling most right now are…

the Waka Stout and Goat.

7 My biggest blunder was…

I don’t even know where to start. My friends created a dedicated scoring system to keep track.

8 I learned…

I have to focus more and sometimes take the time to slow down.

9 The hardest part about making that dream trip happen is…

permission, budget and dam removal.

10 My best advice for young paddlers is…

do it because it’s fun and because you love it.

11 Happiness is…

the most important thing.

12 My most challenging expedition was…

high water Rio Tunuyan in Chile or the Patagonia tour and it taught me that sometimes you just have to put your head down and keep going.

Newman teamed up with Ben Stookesberry and Erik Boomer to tackle nine rivers in Patagonia. The team achieved four first descents and the second human-powered descent of the Pasqua, one of Patagonia’s largest rivers (you can read about it here). To access the Pasqua, they had to bushwhack for 54 miles.

13 What scares me most is…

losing someone I love—and siphons.

14 My favorite camp meals are…

Jo’s sausage croissant and Chomps’ pepper with cheese and egg.

15 The true gift of big trips is…

the good things that come unexpectedly from the hard times and the people you meet and become friends with.

16 One thing I will never do again is…

swim through a siphon.

Paddling Magazine Issue 63 | 2021 Paddling Trip Guide Cover

This article was first published in Paddling Magazine Issue 64. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions here, or download the Paddling Magazine app and browse the digital archives here.

Nouria Newman, ready for adventure. | Photo: Erik Boomer



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