While most beginners choose to stay safe with easily manoeuverable rapids, veterans pump up their adrenaline levels by opting for grades between 4-6 . Strapped with orange life jackets and fitting spongy helmets, groups of rafting aspirants make their way to the assembling area where the instructor looms large as their God who can rescue with his safety instructions.
Post several rounds of anxious question-answer sessions, the instructor leads the way to the rafting site. You know it's your lucky day when the sun shines up in the sky and the river gushes ahead giving your raft a final push to set rolling, literally, in that order.
THE SIX GRADES OF WHITE WATER RAPIDS
Grade 1: Small rough areas, might require slight manoeuvering. Apt for families and beginners. (Skill Level: Basic)
Grade 2: Rough water, maybe some rocks. This does require some bit of manoeuvering. (Skill level: Basic paddling skill)
Grade 3: Whitewater, small waves, maybe a short drop, but no considerable danger. Requires manoeuvering. (Skill level: Experienced paddling strokes)
Grade 4: Whitewater, medium waves, many rocks, considerable drops. Requires sharp manoeuvers. (Skill level: Whitewater experience)
Grade 5: Whitewater, large waves, big rock formations can pose danger, huge and sudden drops. Requires manoeuvering. (Skill level: Advanced whitewater experience)
Grade 6: Now, this level of rapids can be tackled only by veterans and the truly experienced lot. Encounters with huge waves, big rocks and very sharp and sudden drops is a given. (Skill level: Successful completion of Class 6 rapids requires great skill, high levels of strength to manoeuver and outstanding lady luck).
A famous traveler once described adventure as, “pursuit of life“. This thirst for adventure is no more the feed meant for few daring spirits. And there is no better way to celebrate life than going on an adventure holiday. Among all other adventure rides, white water rafting undoubtedly ranks ahead, because of the degree of thrill and excitement associated with it.
For those braves who are ready to accept the challenge to ride the untamed waves, here I have compiled a list of some of the best white water rafting places all around the world.
From the National Geographic book Journeys of a Lifetime
Glaciers and icebergs are among the attractions on these two rivers flowing through an astonishing northern wilderness of mountains and tundra on the borders of Alaska and Canada. As well as superb white water, the trip offers you an unforgettable experience of wildlife, from grizzlies and moose to spawning salmon and luscious blueberries.www.wildernessriver.com
A float plane takes you to Magpie Lake, the start of this eight-day trip through the remote pine forests of eastern Quebec province. Your first rapids come as you leave the lake for the Magpie River, and from then on they grow in difficulty until you reach the challenge of Class V rapids downriver from the spectacular Magpie Falls. You camp at night on river islands, and to the north you see the pulsating glory of the aurora borealis (northern lights).www.Earthriver.com
This is one of the world’s most popular whitewater rivers, with everything to offer you—rapids up to Class IV and glorious alpine and forest scenery as it flows through America’s largest roadless wilderness area outside Alaska. Wildlife can include the enchanting sight of a mother bear swimming across the river with her cubs.www.ioga.org
Around you spreads rain forest, where toucans and iridescent butterflies flit from tree to tree. You glimpse a palm-thatched village of the local Shuar people and may stop to visit it. Starting in the remote town of Macas on the far western fringes of the Amazon Basin, you embark on a journey where the pace varies from gentle rapids to tumultuous rides through narrow canyons. The highlight is the Namangosa Gorge, with Class IV rapids and the sight of countless waterfalls plunging down the gorge’s sides.www.rowinternational.com, www.condorjourneys-adventures.com
Plunging from glacier-fed lakes in the high Andes of Patagonia, the limpid blue waters of the Futaleufú River offer superb rafting among mountain scenery of alpine grandeur. Stretches are suitable for beginners, but there are also Class V rapids that will challenge even the most expert rafters.
Paddling over whirlpools of turbulent water and watching the landscapes go by can be such an adrenaline rush. Aside from the high energy buzz, white water rafting also makes for an exciting way to explore and immerse deeply in the backcountry. What better way is there to see the Grand Canyon than by riding along the ebb and flow of the Colorado River? Can you get any closer to the Victoria Falls than by rafting to its base on the Zambezi River?
Here’s a list of 10 of the best whitewater rafting spots. Suit up and join us on this wet and wild ride.
White water rafting on the Zambezi River is something every adventure-lover should experience. Enjoying the spectacular African scenery and the warm sunny weather, while bobbing around at the base of Victoria Falls, is definitely the highlight of the trip. You can top off your rafting experience with camping on beautiful white beaches and wildlife viewing that this region is famous for.
Flickr photo by christophercjensen
Many visitors claim that this is one of the worlds’ best trips. The area has a lot to offer, such as 226 miles of rafting, hiking paths up the canyon and to ancient Indian ruins, the view of the Grand Canyon, beautiful camping sites on spectacular beaches and the amazing Colorado River.
Flickr photo by Al_HikesAZ
Costa Rica is rated to be one of the best white water rafting spots in the world. The rivers range from Class II to Class V rapids, and have something to offer for everyone, from families to adventure junkies. For those who enjoy adrenaline filled holidays, Costa Rica, with its natural exotic beauty and amazing wildlife is the ideal holiday spot. The Rios Pacuare, Reventazón, Sarapiqui and Corobici are some of the best places to ride in Costa Rica.
Flickr photo by jurvetson
The Futaleufu River is not only known for white river rafting, but also for its unique permanent river camps, which are built into cliff dwellings with riverside stone hot tubs, hot showers, treehouses and beds. If you need a break from river rafting, you can always try out horseback riding, rock climbing or hiking along the river.
Flickr photo by Northwest Rafting Company
White water rafting in Idaho is a thrilling adventure holiday for the wilderness surrounding the area. You can enjoy the scenic view of one of Idaho’s premier rivers, the Middle Fork of the Salmon River or the Main Salmon River, with its crystal clear water and soothing natural hot springs.
Flickr photo by ConanTheLibrarian
Less than 150 people have ever rafted on the Yangtze River in China. The Great Bend runs through canyons that are twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, only a third as wide and the water flow is twice as powerful. If you dare to venture into this unexplored wonder you will be rewarded by an amazing view of mountains with terraced fields and ancient stone villages.
Flickr photo by sullivan_ng
Beginning on Newfoundland’s Labrador plateau and emptying into the St. Lawrence River, the Magpie River flows through hundreds of kilometers of pine forests. You can easily spend a few days rafting various sections of the river, camping out under the stars before jumping back on the raft to explore more.
Flickr photo by gr_h_m
The Ganges, the holy river of India is one of the best places for white water rafting in Asia. Connecting with the wild waters while exploring India and its nature will make your trip worth it. Some of the best places to test your rafting skills are near the Devprayag where two rivers – Bhagirathi and Alaknanda meet and form the Ganges.
Flickr photo by >S@TS<
Switzerland usually known for its chocolate, its cheese, its Army Knives, and its banks, but it also provides great rafting opportunities. White water rafting trips in Switzerland have the extra advantage of the beautiful scenery of the Swiss Alps. Some good spots for rafting in the country include Arve, Lütschine, Rhine, Rhone and Saane rivers.
Flickr photo by Pixel Brain
White water rafting was introduced to Thailand only a few years ago but has become a big hit already. It is an ideal activity for the rainy season, which lasts from May to October. A number of river routes have become well-known for whitewater rafting. The North of Thailand has more rivers suitable for rafting than anywhere else. The best-known rafting route is along the Mae Taeng River in Chiang Mai. Another interesting spot for river rafting in Chiang Mai is on the Mae Cham River.
Before there were hipsters in Portlandia, French explorers “discovered” this dramatic river in the Pacific Northwest — the drama coming from the fact that this river was (and still is) full of chutes — a fleuve des chutes, which spawned its name. It goes without say that a river with a lot of falls is perfect for a wild time out on the water, with arguably the most thrilling section known as the Elevator Rapids. In between, the dramatic scenery is a treat, with rock formations made of hardened lava flows.
Idaho may be known for its potatoes by some, but for the adventurous, it’s known for its Salmon — River that is. The most thrilling place to raft the Salmon is in the Middle Fork, a tributary with a 105-mile rafting course dropping 3000 feet in elevation along the way. Three hundred rapids adorn this river, which is more than enough to get your fill of white water — however a permit is required to navigate them, so start working on that application.
The New River is so iconic to West Virginians that it — along with its eponymous gorge and bridge — is on the West Virginia state quarter coin. The New River Gorge Bridge is one of the highlights along the serene parts of the river, amidst what is already beautiful Appalachian scenery. The river water speeds up though, leading into a roller coaster of Class III–V rapids, so brace yourself for a wet and wild ride, West Virginia-style.
The Gauley, which merges with its fellow West Virginian the New, is a thrilling white water river that the National Park Service calls “one of the premier whitewater runs in the world.” It’s fun to raft during most parts of the year, but the six weekends after Labor Day when water is released from the Summersville Dam, it’s “Gauley Season” when the river is at its wildest, attracting rafters not only from around the country, but from around the globe.
No round up of whitewater rafting in the U.S. would be complete without mentioning the mighty Colorado, spanning across several states in the American Southwest. While you can paddle near the river source in the state of Colorado, or tag a rafting trip to the other activities you’re doing in Moab, Utah, the main stage of running the Colorado River is in the Grand Canyon — and not just for the novelty of being in one of the world’s biggest showcase of geological beauty. Twisting its way through the very canyon it carved out millions of years ago, the Colorado’s white waters provide once-in-a-lifetime thrills that make it a must-raft destination that should be on everyone’s bucket list. However, reservations for a spot in raft start a year in advance, so start clearing your calendar.