Few things compare to the thrill and the adrenaline rush that accompanies white-water rafting. A famous adventure sport across the world, white water rafting is an exhilarating experience for anyone looking to traverse spectacular rapids. As you rush down turbulent waters, the gorgeous landscape around elevates the entire experience. If you’re waiting to explore this fast-paced adventure sport, here is a list of the top 10 places across the world that are guaranteed to make you fall in love with the sport.
1. Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, Arizona
The Colorado River is definitely one of the greats for white-water rafting; any list would be incomplete without its mention. Wandering for more than 277 miles along parts of northern Arizona, this waterway’s most famous path passes through the iconic Grand Canyon. It has huge waves and to truly immerse yourself in the experience you need a whole two weeks. It’s been a benchmark for several years and is a quintessential addition to any adventurer’s list.
2. Zambezi River, Zambia
Called the ‘Slam-bezi’ because of its powerful rapids, this river in Zambia is one of the most renowned in Africa. It has massive class IV-V rapids that are perfect for an intense rafting experience if you’re up for that! It starts below the 360-foot (110 meters) Victoria Falls and has 23 rapids within a 15-mile (24 km) stretch of water. As you make your way through the river you might get lucky and spot some crocodiles and hippos. Some of the terrific rapids are Gnashing Jaws of Death, Stairway to Heaven and the Ghostrider, which is considered the most thrilling of all.
3. Futaleufu River, Chile
This one is definitely a South American legend. With Class III-V rapids, these deep blue waters are perfect to explore. The scenic mountain landscape is a sight for sore eyes and the rapids are great both for beginners and advanced rafters. The origin of this river is the glacier-fed lakes in the high Andes of Patagonia. Owing to its breath-taking beauty, the locals refer to it as “un paisaje pintado por dios“—a landscape painted by God.
4. Noce River, Italy
Italy isn’t particularly popular for white water rafting but the Noce River is considered one of the best places in Europe to explore the waters. The river is fed from melting glaciers high in the Dolomites which release a strong current of water. The rapids here are as high as Class IV and V levels as they pass through the gorges of Mostizzolo. The entire stretch of the river is about 16 miles. The area is fairly calm and quiet surrounded by Alpine glaciers, the roaring sounds of the water is all you can hear!
5. North Johnstone River, Australia
You can reach the North Johnstone River only by helicopter as it passes through the untouched rain forests and volcanic gorges which are a part of Palmerstone National Park in Northern Queensland. The rapids here are of the class IV-V category and you could take almost 4-6 days as you descend the river, while spending some time camping. Nights along the river are extra gorgeous because of luminous fungi that glow on the rocks and fireflies that dance through the forest canopy. It’s an extremely wholesome river rafting experience!
6. Çoruh River, Turkey
One of the fastest flowing rivers, the Coruh passes through the beautiful Kaçkar Mountains of far north-eastern Turkey. The rapids are extremely high and there are some steep drops that you will witness on your rafting journey. There’s plenty of wildlife around the area and you’ll definitely chance upon some bears, mountain goats and wild boars. There are also ruins from the Byzantine Empire around the area that you can check out.
7. Sun Kosi River, Nepal
Nestled among some of the highest peaks, the Sun Kosi River in Nepal rises near the border with Tibet. The river eventually merges with the Ganges as it passes through narrow gorges and forested canyons. Class V rapids are available in plenty here; the last stretch of the river passes through a dense tropical jungle and is definitely an adventure lovers paradise. The rafting journey is mostly narrow which could pose as an exciting challenge for even the most experienced rafters.
8. Río Upano, Ecuador
This stunning river starts in the small town of Macas in the far west of the Amazon basin. As you make your way through rapids that quickly shift from gentle to swift, the sights around will dazzle you. Nature and wildlife are in abundance in the area, toucans and iridescent butterflies surround the trees. The Namangosa Gorge with its class IV rapids is definitely a highlight. From the gorge, you’ll get to see several waterfalls cascading down its sides. On your journey, you could also stop to visit a quaint palm-thatched village of the local Shuar people.
9. Chilko River, Canada
The Chilko River in British Columbia flows for about 47 miles and is best known for its class IV rapids that never seem to end! A full excursion along the river could take almost up to a week; given how fast this river is, you’re in for a crazy adventure. There are beautiful campsites along the way where you can make pit stops in case the waters tire you out quickly. Beginners steer clear from this one because the waters can get tricky to navigate because of the high speeds.
10. Pacuare River, Costa Rica
Pacuare River has so much to offer as a rafting destination! It has three white water sections, and 38 individual rapids, spread out over 67 miles. The rapids here are of the Class III-IV variety and they pass through lush rain forests where you’ll see monkeys, ocelots and lots more. The Talamanca Mountains are yours to gaze at as you make your way through the river. The rapids aren’t too challenging which makes it the perfect spot for anyway looking to experiment with white-water rafting. The Huacas Waterfall along the course has a 150-foot dramatic drop into the river, which is insane! There are tailor-made rafting tour options that you can choose from according to the experience you desire.
Have we missed any of your favourite white water rafting destinations? If so, be sure to chare them in the comments below.