The Kwando is made for children, but it is definitely not just a floating toy. With this kayak, children can cut their teeth on flatwater and easy rivers by learning basic paddle strokes and skills. It has the performance and the features of our adult boats – just packaged in a size that a child can physically manage.

Paddle Cutaways allow for a full natural stroke without the paddle blade grazing the sides of the deck. Its sculpted seat is designed for comfort and with both feet together in the footwell, this kayak is ergonomically suited to a correct paddling style.

The 8″ Screw Hatch gives access to watertight storage in the rear of the deck, which, together with the Tankwell, provides sufficient storage volume for children to pack their own gear for single or multi-day adventures.

The Bottle Holder, located in front of the seat, ensures that a beverage is accessible. To free their hands, when they stop to chat or stand-up on the flat Stand-up Platform to pose for photographs, they can stow their paddle using the Paddle Rest.

The Kwando can be carried using the handles positioned on the front, back and sides.

Children will develop a passion for paddling with a kayak that has been designed to suit their needs. The Kwando is easy to keep moving in a straight line, quick to respond to turning strokes and a pleasure to paddle.

Length: 240 cm / 7’10”
Width: 60 cm / 23.5″
Height: 30 cm / 11.75″
Weight: 13 kg / 28 lb
Ideal paddler weight: 15-45 kg / 30-100 lb
Max. carrying capacity: 50 kg / 110 lb


The Kwando is, without doubt, the best children’s kayak in the world. We have created a high-performance recreational kayak that a child can paddle – properly. It has everything that we, as adults, expect from a kayak in terms of speed, performance, agility, manoeuvrability and responsiveness. The Kwando can handle a variety of activities from flatwater paddling to river tripping to give your child a true taste for the sport of paddling. From very young to pre-teen, our Kwando kayak will be your child’s adventure companion until they grow out of it and into one of our other models, like the Tsomo or Tarka.


The rear Tankwell has enough space for a small canine companion. If the dog prefers to sit, rather than to lie down, line the Tankwell with a foam mat to prevent their paws from slipping.


The Kwando cuts through water like a hot knife through butter. With this kayak, children feel like they’re really paddling because they can move forward without exerting themselves. They too enjoy being able to move forward with speed. For parents, this means that you can paddle at an easy pace and you won’t be waiting-waiting-waiting for your child. The Kwando makes paddling good fun for parents and children.


While the deck of the Kwando has not been kitted with our angling features, kayak fishing is definitely an activity that can be enjoyed from this kayak. Attach fishing accessories to the deck, use the Tankwell and 8″ Screw Hatch to stow gear, and Stand-up Platform to hold tackle between your legs.


With the Kwando, visiting the beach becomes a whole lot more exciting than building sand castles and getting dug in up to your chin. Now your child can paddle on the sea too. Build up confidence and the maritime skills of reading currents, swell and waves gradually by starting out on calm water. It goes without saying to always keep to swimming beaches where there are lifeguards on duty and to adhere to their instructions at all times.


The Kwando has not been designed to do cutbacks and ride tubes but it will happily go out through the breakers and back in to shore. If you want to get into surf kayaking, check out our Dumbi kayak.


For an introduction to rivers and whitewater kayaking for children, you don’t get better than the Kwando. Flowing water and small rapids are child’s play for this versatile kayaks and should serve to whet your child’s appetite for more. Use the 8″ Screw Hatches and Tankwell to secure gear for overnight trips. If you plan to do trips and your older child has the skills for bigger water and rapids, consider one of our whitewater kayaks like the Usutu sit-on-top or Pungwe creek boat.


The Kwando is not specifically designed to be paddled from standing – but children love to do it anyway. Stand up on the Stand-up Platform to show-off, pose for photos, stretch your legs and enjoy a height-above-water view to check out your surroundings.

I designed my first children’s sit-on-top in 2005, just before my first child was born. At the time, there was no real sit-on-top on the market designed especially for children. I designed that boat to be simple and inexpensive. Since then, a number of other manufacturers have released their own versions of kids’ sit-on-tops. As my first kids’ design was already on the market, I expected that the other manufacturers would improve on it. Instead, it appears that everyone tried to go even cheaper and simpler. The design of children’s kayaks became a race to the bottom.

In the meantime, my two children have grown up to become competent paddlers. We have done many trips together, from multi-day river trips on the Orange and Vaal rivers to whitewater runs on easy rapids. While they have learned to paddle properly since they were tiny toddlers, I have learned what works for kids and what doesn’t, and what they really want and need in a boat.

When I started working on the Kwando, my aim was to create a boat that would be easy for a little child who has never paddled before, to handle. This kayak would also need to keep up with the child’s development as they grow and gain proper paddling skills. I wanted to make the boat fast enough to keep up with adults on leisurely trips, and easy enough to turn, using paddle strokes, when needed. My other design criteria included: comfort, easy to stand up on, sufficient packing space, many fittings for attaching items, a paddle holder and a bottle holder. I also wanted the boat to look cool. Do these sound like the same things that you, as an adult, want from your boat? That’s exactly the point. Children have similar needs as adults, but their requirements need to be packaged in a size that they can physically manage.

True to my roots, I had to add some river-ability to the boat too. The Kwando is not a whitewater kayak, but it certainly has the pedigree to run easy rapids with ease. If you are a whitewater kayaker, you can certainly use the Kwando to teach your kids the basics of river-running. Paddle through waves, catch eddies, do ferries and learn all the basic paddle strokes; it’s all doable in the Kwando. Once your child has gained good confidence and skills, you can add some thigh straps. Straps help them to edge the boat properly in current, and to keep them in the boat when hitting waves. With thigh straps, the Kwando can be rolled pretty easily too!

Take a good look at the Kwando and you will see most of the trademark features found in our sit-on-tops for adults. The Kwando offers real performance for little paddlers, in a super-easy-to-use package. My aim was not to make this the cheapest kids’ sit-on-top on the market; my aim was to make the best possible kayak that you could buy for your child. If you just want to buy a floating toy that can carry your child on water, this is not the right boat for you. If you want your child to really paddle and to love doing it, this is simply the best boat you can buy. The Kwando is not a toy; it is a real kayak for children.

Celliers Kruger, designer of Vagabond Kayaks

In this video on Facebook, posted by Swell Watercraft, a young K1 paddler –  Ryan Lee – puts a Kwando through its paces.

Vaal River, Gatsien rapid. Gatsien is an Afrikaans word for ‘see your arse’. Ruben (10), on his blue Kwando, didn’t. For paddlers, Gatsien is probably the most well known rapid in South Africa. At this time of year, as we go into winter, the water level is low making this rapid a friendly class 1.

There are two sides to the Vaal River’s Gatsien rapid. On river left is a wave train at low levels – and a super surfing wave when the water is higher. On river right is the chute. Ruben (10) takes a line to the right of the chute on his Kwando children’s sit-on-top. He catches an eddy and then continues down the rapid.

(The orange whitewater kayak that you see briefly near the end of this video? That’s a Pungwe, the smaller size of our two creekboats.)

Young Luke is 8 years old and he loves paddling his Vagabond Kayaks Kwando. He paddles regularly on Zandvlei and the sea around Simon’s Town with his parents. His confidence has grown since he first took to the water a year ago.

“The Kwando has really changed how he feels about being on the water. He can pretty much handle a 5km circuit now. He loves his kayak!” says Luke’s mom Tracy.