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Travel the world 30 Jun 2021

Whitewater rafting

Thrilling locations for whitewater rafting

Whitewater rafting is one of the most exciting water sports available to thrill-seekers, along with being great fun for a group of friends or family. While you might have a local river that offers rafting or kayaking, to experience the most dramatic rapids, you will probably want to look further.

We’ve put together some top locations for whitewater rafting around the world.

To help you understand the level of difficulty, we’ve listed rivers by the following classifications:

  • Class I + II – Small areas of rough water. Perfect for Beginners
  • Class III – Small waves and drops in places. Some experience required
  • Class IV – Medium waves, rocks, drops and whitewater. Experienced rafters only
  • Class V – Large waves, rocks and hazardous sections including large drops. Highly-experienced rafters only

Ottawa River - Canada

Location: Rocher Fendu (Main River) or Calumet channels of the river are the most well-known

Difficulty: Class I to IV depending on where you plan on rafting

When to go: Between May and September

The Ottawa River, located on the border between Ontario and Quebec, is known for being one of the best rivers for whitewater rafting in Canada. The different channels of the river provide varying levels of difficulty catering to complete beginners and all the way up to seasoned veterans of this adventure sport. The Lower Ottawa River is ideal for beginner rapids around Fish Island, while the Middle part of the river and main channel provide much more challenging sections, such as Garvin’s Chute: a Class IV, fifteen foot drop that should only be attempted by experienced rafters.

Zambezi River - Zimbabwe

Location: There are 25 areas for rapids in total, up and down the river

Difficulty: Class IV to V

When to go: Between June and March

Sitting at the foot of Victoria Falls – sometimes referred to as the tallest waterfall in the world - The Zambezi River is known worldwide for fantastic rafting. Commercial rafting started in 1981 and has steadily increased in popularity ever since, with growing numbers of keen rafters from all over the world.

Several sections including Oblivion, Overland Truck Eater and Commercial Suicide require previous experience, along with a strong raft. Not for the faint-hearted!

Futaleufu River - Chile

Location: 40 miles of river separated into four sections: upper, middle, lower and El Macal (bottom)

Difficulty: Class III to V

When to go: Between December and February

Translated as “Big River”, Futaleufu River is well-known for rafters in South America, with 40 miles of whitewater to explore. There is plenty of variety down the river, catering to many skill levels in rafting, and offering plenty of opportunities for repeat visits as your skills develop. Bridge to Bridge is a key section for beginners, while the Class IV Mundaka and Cushion are ideal for more experienced rafters.

Colorado River, Grand Canyon

Location: Divided into the Upper Canyon (Lee’s Ferry to Phantom Ranch) and Lower Canyon (Phantom Ranch to Lake Mead)

Difficulty: Class I to IV

When to go: Between April and October

At 280 miles long, the Grand Canyon section of the Colorado River has plenty for rafting beginners and the more experienced to enjoy, along with stunning views from the bottom of the canyon. A full trip can often be as long as 15-18 days, taking in the entire stretch of river including both the upper and lower canyon. The most challenging sections of rapids include Crystal Rapids and Lava Falls in the lower canyon: truly one of the most picturesque locations for whitewater rafting in the world..

This should give you a few options for your next holiday. Happy rafting adventures!

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Escapesphere (, last accessed in June 2021

OARS (, last accessed in June 2021

Rough Guides (, last accessed in June 2021 (, last accessed in June 2021 (, last accessed in June 2021 (, last accessed in June 2021

Wikipedia (, last accessed in June 2021