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The Best Whitewater Rafting in the World: 10 Top Spots

Whitewater rafting

Planning your next adventure with your family? Or just looking to push your boundaries and cater to the adrenaline lover in you? Then look no further, because we’ve got just the answer for you: A fantastic rafting trip!

Whitewater rafting is very exciting, and whether you’re a beginner, a budding learner or an expert, there are rapids waiting to be conquered by you. Flowing through gorgeous valleys and picturesque landscapes, whitewater rafting is a treat for the body, mind, and senses. Along with the excitement of the sport and the challenging adventure, rafting is also a great opportunity to bond with loved ones over a fun-filled trip.

10 of the best white water rafting locations in the world

Here we’ve listed our top spots all over the world for rafting trips:

Arkansas River, Colorado

01Arkansas River, Colorado

Best rafting season: May – September

This wildly popular rafting spot is at the top of our list for all the right reasons. Located 90 miles west of Colorado Springs, this river has a brilliant combination of both easy and challenging rapids. The class of rapids range from one to five. For families and beginners there are the picturesque sections such as the Lower Browns Canyon, and for the most advanced-level rafters there’s the Numbers and Royal Gorge areas. Whether you choose to book a day trip or camp out for a few nights, there are quite a few outfitters who can book a great package for you. The period between May and September is said to be the most suitable for rafting here, and you can check out whitewater rafting trips near Colorado Springs by Echo Canyon River Expeditions to find the right trio for yourself!

02Futaleufu River, Chile

Best rafting season: December – April

On the Southern side of America is one of the most famous rivers for rafting: Futaleufu River. With a name that is a mouthful, the gorgeous waters and rapids provide an unforgettable experience. The river originates in the peaks of the Andes range of mountains, which provides a beautiful view. There are also several areas where one can camp out and stay for a few nights while exploring the nearby forests. The rapids are mostly category 5, which isn’t suitable for beginners, but you could consult with professionals and seek out the safer regions as well. One of the famous alternative activities here is rock climbing, and you can also enjoy horse riding if you’ve got extra time on your hands.

03Rio Cotahuasi River, Peru

Best rafting season: December – April

If you’re looking to push past your comfort zone and try something really offbeat, this beautiful river in Peru is a great choice! A week-long trip in this spot is ideal because getting to the rafting area itself has to be done by boat as there are no proper roadways. Once you get there, you’ll see the river flowing through massive canyons and old ruins, providing a whole new experience. The rapids here swing between category 4 and 5, making it more ideal for rafters with experience. The rustic appeal and old world charm of this spot is what makes it so attractive. You can camp under the stars or camp within the ruins, making it a gorgeous spot for photography as well!

River rafting

04Chilko River, British Columbia

Best rafting season: April – October

Another great choice for rafting in Northern America is the Chilko River, which is set in the midst of amazing landscapes and glaciers. It also goes through the Lava Canyon, Big John Canyon and other such marvels of nature. This is said to be the longest whitewater stretch in the Northern region of America, and the rapids go up to a class 4. This river runs close to the Alsek River, where the rapids are slightly less challenging, and the course isn’t as long either. The only downside is how cold the weather and the water can get, so one must dress accordingly and carry enough supplies with them. The lush meadows and alpine forests truly add to the magic of rafting through these rapids.

05 Zambezi River, Zambia

Best rafting season: April – February

For the most incredible rafting experience in Africa, the Zambezi River is your best choice. The river runs for about a 15-mile stretch, right below the Victoria Falls and along the Batoka Gorge. The rapids gush through an elaborate landscape and mesmerizing scenery, shedding light on the untouched beauty of the African terrain. One can also encounter some rare wildlife along the way, depending on the season. It’s advisable to consult with a professional guide while rafting here, to avoid any dangerous situations, as the rapids can go up to a class 5 on certain days.

06Rio Pacuare River, Costa Rica

Best rafting season: May – November

Costa Rica has so many adventures to offer to travel enthusiasts, and whitewater rafting is most definitely on that list. Rio Pacuare is home to rivers that run almost 68 miles in length, which is divided into 3 sections. In some areas, the rapids come under a class 3, which is just right for beginners. The other sections go up to a class 4 and very rarely a class 5. Apart from an enjoyable rafting experience, setting up camp here is also a great idea. There are several expeditions you can book to go wildlife watching and also spot some very exotic species of birds in the thick, forested areas. There’s also a vibrant flow of people here most of the time, so finding company won’t be an issue.

07Sun Kosi River, Nepal

Best rafting season: September and October

If you’re planning an overseas trip and don’t mind a little extra travel time, the Sun Kosi River in Nepal is a spectacle you cannot miss. Through the high mountain peaks of Nepal run many gorgeous rivers, but this river is particularly suitable for whitewater rafting. The different aspects of nature vary from forests and mountains to gorges and canyons, all of which provide a tremendous view and experience. Close by to this region is also the Drigung Chu River, which is also a good option if you’re looking for rapids that are a little less challenging. Of course, while you’re there, mountain biking and hiking are a must try!

08Rio Zamora, Ecuador

Best rafting season: June – August

In the Ecuador region, this is the most famous site for whitewater rafting. Found on the Amazon side of the Andes mountains, the rapids here are bigger, cleaner and also much more exciting to maneuver through. The rapids range from a class 3 to a class 5, starting more commonly from the town of Maccas and journeying through the Namangosa Gorge, beautiful waterfalls and canyons. The view is undoubtedly spectacular, while the rafting experience itself is one of a kind. There are also many local villages that you can explore, and also spot different species of wildlife too. Another perfect river to check out is the Rio Upano, which stretches for a shorter length but is still worth the adventure.

Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho

09Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho

Best rafting season: May and June

A pretty popular spot in the US for rafting, anytime between the months of May and June is ideal here. You’ll find continuous class 4 rapids here that provide quite a challenging course. Surrounded purely by nature and no signs of civilization, this is a great spot for travelers who seek nature and adventure that isn’t disrupted by modern nuances. With an entire stretch of 105 miles, the waters here are fresh and clear. You might also spot some deer and wild animals in this area, so ensure that you have all your safety protocol taken care of.

10North Johnstone River, Australia

Best rafting season: April – June

Fancy taking a trip down under? If yes, this is one rafting spot that you absolutely cannot miss. Situated towards the North of Queensland, this river is flanked by rainforests, gorges, and is also close to the Palmerston National Park. One of the most spectacular views here bioluminescent fungi that grows on the rocks and the river bed. The rapids here can be quite challenging, owing to the heavy rainfall that the area experiences. Overnight camping and rafting, along with some hiking, can prove to be a fun-filled adventure for your whole group.

There are many beautiful rivers that are apt for whitewater rafting, but this list comprises of some of our favourites. Do check out pictures before you plan your next rafting trip, and remember to stay safe while you enjoy your outdoor adventure. We would always suggest booking in advance with experts so that you can experience all the different offerings of this amazing journey!

About Henry


Henry Lane is passionate about white water rafting and has been going at the sport for about 7 years now. In addition to rafting, he is also an avid surfer, skier, mountain biker and is always keen to explore the beauty of nature. He also writes about his experiences and shares tips about how people can raft safely and have fun at the same time. He lives and works out of his home in Colorado and spends his free time with outdoor adventures and camping with the family.

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