Gumotex Safari Mk 1

2016: new Safari 330XL

Dorset pond

Gumotex Safari (pre-2003)
Back when I didn’t know an IK from JK Rowling, my very first IK was a used Safari. And light and tough though it was, this early model Safari was a mistake. The Mk1 was a tad over 3 metres long (same as a Solar 1), 72cm wide and weighted just 12kg.

I pretty much knew it wasn’t for me when I bought it used in 2004 for £120 from, but it was so cheap it was worth the punt. At my weight I pretty much maxed-out the boat’s 100-kilo payload, and at 6.1” I looked like I was sat in a small bath.

River Frome, Dorset

Without a skeg I also found it impossible to paddle straight (but had no experience then; see this). It felt nice and fast but way too tippy to inspire confidence in a large beginner. It’s the only IK I’ve ever had which I could barely stay in. And for me it was way too cramped to pack a useful load for a few day’s touring which was my plan all along.


Anyone with a bit of experience would have realised this before they bought it, but I just wanted to check out a proper IK close up before moving on. I soon got a Sunny and have never looked back with Gumotex IKs; the Safari was passed on to my g-friend who’s a foot shorter and half my weight.


A great feature on the Safari were the thigh straps (visible in the pics above). They really connect you to the boat and help you to paddle hard by controlling the yawing, as well as the roll to correct tipping over: great for the back and stomach muscles too. Knowing now that later Safari models are more stable, I’d be quite keen to try one again as a play/day boat.

Note. I’m told post-2003 Safaris (below) have a different hull design and are less tippy. The newer one had twin side tubes but still a rounded hull profile. BoatPeople in CA don’t mince their words when they talk about it still being tippy in certain conditions, and the current short Safari is not the same hull shape as an old and stable Solar 300 we owned. As for weight limit, I doubt that’s different.

North American Innova importer Tim R. told me “I would rate the Solar’s stability as a 9 out of 10, the old Safari would be a 6 and the new Safari an 8. The very first Safari prototype was a 3!”


New or old, a Safari is also a self-bailer which is highly desirable when the going gets even a little rough, but only if you’re not too heavy to end up sitting in pooled water, as I was.
G-friend used the Safari in Croatia and found she needed about 10kg of rock ballast in either end (see pic above) to make the boat stable and, as it happened, faster. Without them the boat sat high and even she felt tippy. Therefore the optimum weight for a pre-2003 Safari would be around 70kg. Now you know.
We sold the Safari and got a Solar 1 or 300. The Safari is still in the Gumo line up. For a small WW fiend, a Safari would be a great little boat. There are plenty of videos online testifying to that fact.

2016: new Safari 330XL

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