Today we meet Patrick Lakatos, a canoe-kayak guide based in the Lot region, who navigates mainly on the Dordogne, Lot and Célé rivers.
In this interview, he shares with you his background, his daily life and his anecdotes as a Canoe-Kayak Guide. Discover the story of this passionate and his kayaking activity…
Could you make a brief presentation of yourself, your background and how you got there?
I studied hotel management at the hotel school in Souillac in the Lot on the banks of the Dordogne. So my canoe-kayak adventure started there. Then I did a lot of different jobs. And about thirty years ago, I came back to my first love, love of canoeing and kayaking.
So I passed several state certificates: a State Certificate in Sport for All and a State Certificate in Canoeing. I had a canoeing base for several years in Bretenoux where I rented boats. And I noticed that the population that came to rent boats was not at all aware of the beauties of this river. It bothered me a little that people come on such a beautiful river and don’t look at the nature a little more deeply.
Afterwards, I set up this activity which is more a cultural activity. That is to say that I show people how to look at nature and what to observe on a small course since my course is ten kilometers long.
Finally, it is an activity accessible to all, beginners as well as advanced, focused on discovery?
Absolutely, there is really everyone. As soon as people know how to swim, we are in complete safety with a qualified person. I am careful. I don’t take people when there is a lot of water or if the people at the beginning are too afraid or can’t find their way around, I won’t go further.
Furthermore, I adapt to the clientele and the priority for me is safety of course.
Throughout the kayaking activity, people are accompanied and guided?
Indeed, from the beginning I do the initiation and I present a little bit my activity. Then, as soon as everyone in the group knows how to navigate, stop, turn and go straight, we start. We leave and we stop every fifteen minutes or even twenty minutes to observe plants, insects and animals at the water’s edge.
How long have you been offering this kayaking activity?
This type of activity has been in place for about ten years.
Now let’s talk about current events, how did Covid-19 impact your last season, if at all?
Yes, yes it did impact the season. On the one hand I could only start the activity from the end of June 2020 with a slow start. And then in July and August, I had a lot of requests. As I am limited in the number of places, sixteen people maximum, the season was short but intense. You have to know that on the one hand, at the level of the Brevet d’Etat, you are limited to a group of sixteen people on a calm, delimited and protected body of water. And on the other hand, it is not interesting to have a too big group because we cannot explain things easily and at the security level we can have some problems.
The biggest problem is really being close to people to be able to explain things.
The smaller the group, the better. I usually limit the number of people to fourteen, that’s seven boats (two-seaters). And I can extend to 16 exceptionally.
The season was rather short, and so for you the season lasts how long?
So we’ll say that already from August 25th there are a lot less people. I stay open all year long, but in general, my clientele stops in October. The main part of the season is concentrated on one month from July 15th to August 15th. After that, I try to bring people at the beginning and end of the season because that’s when there are fewer people on the water and the fauna & flora are the most interesting.
Since last year, how have you had to adapt to the health measures?
Already in terms of distancing I have respected the barrier gestures. When I give the material, we are in a closed room so I ask to wear the mask with a distance of 2 meters as much as possible. On the boat itself there is no restriction because we are two meters from each other in the boat itself and generally they are people from the same household. After in the shuttle of transport (Minibus which takes the adventurers of the point of meeting to the point of paddle) that changed some small things but we adapt. I try to leave the shuttles of the customers at the arrival so that there is no shuttle at the arrival and they leave directly. We try to find tricks. But we are lucky because we remain an outdoor activity.
Do you work alone in your structure? For shipments?
Yes, except for very specific activities where you have to find managers with state certificates but in addition they have to know the fauna, the flora, the history and the geology. But it is these thirty years of practice which allowed me to do what I do. This activity is a discovery of a route that can be done only by canoe. There are places where you can’t go otherwise, it’s very specific. People are generally delighted on the one hand by the beauty of the landscape but also by what I show them: the quietness, the slowness… Leave for a day, on a small course, take the time to walk.
We bathe, they know that I organize myself to arrive on time at the arrival. The most complicated when you are alone is to organize the shuttles. But I work in collaboration with a vacation center which from time to time makes me the shuttles and they also lend me some boats.
I can’t wait to sail on the Dordogne and share my passion! It’s really about sharing, people come and we exchange a lot on the water. There are people who also teach me things.
Already a star…
Before giving an interview to Spotyride our canoe guide had already been on French TV for a dedicated mini report. (In French)
Go on a trip with Patrick Lakatos in a few clicks…
Meet at Gluges (Lot 46, France) at 9am for a shuttle departure to the Base de Plein Air de Mezels in Vayrac (Lot 46, France). Then embark on an adventure of more than 5 hours of discovery. History, fauna and flora, edible plants and secrets of the river are on the program. All equipment is included. All you need is a picnic lunch and you’re ready to go!