Whitewater rafting on safari
For anyone looking for an adrenaline-rush and a way to explore the spectacular scenery of river canyons, whitewater rafting on safari is always a thrill. If you’re a serious rafter and planning an adventure around this particular activity, there are a handful of spots we think you shouldn’t miss. Seasonality will vary with each destination so make sure to mention when you’d like to travel if that’s a key factor and we’ll recommend the best spots.
Whitewater rafting at the foot of one of the Seven Wonders of the World is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and perfect for adrenaline seekers. Rafting trips on the Zambezi River run from the Zimbabwe and Zambian sides of Victoria Falls; Shearwater and Wild Horizons are our preferred operators and they both operate from both sides.
The water level of the Zambezi River is completely dictated by rainfall, and this has a huge impact on the rafting season. Please take the dates below as general guidelines.
Low water trips (approx. August-through December) begin at a deep pool called the “Boiling Pot” which is just below the the main falls. These trips are either half-day (10 rapids) or full-day (21 rapids) trips. On the shorter trips you simply exit the gorge after the 10th rapid at about lunchtime. Exiting the gorge involves a steep climb of about 250 meters, although helicopter lifts are available, at a cost.
High water runs (January-March and June-August) skip the first 10 rapids as they are unsafe to raft at the high water level.
If rafting is a priority on your trip, we recommend traveling between August and the end of December.
You might also take to the rushing water of the mighty Nile River in Uganda for the best Class 5’s. Make Lemala Wildwaters Lodge in Jinja your base.
Rotorua is the hub for general fun on New Zealand’s North Island and we particularly love recommending a whitewater rafting safari trip down the Kaituna with River Rats. The Tutea Falls is the world’s highest commercially rafted waterfall at an almighty 7 meters. There is plenty of time to build up anticipation and practice your newly acquired skills in the rapids and two smaller waterfalls before the big drop. You can expect an average around 1 boat in every to flip, but all the major rapids are followed by calm water, so there is time to get the boat back upright and get everyone back in.
The Chilean and Argentine Lake Districts are playgrounds for water-spots lovers of all stripes. Many lodges offer whitewater rafting as an activity during your stay. You can also plan for a day of rafting down the Rio Baker in Chile’s Northern Patagonia if you’re looking to see a wilder and more untouched part of the country.
The American West is brimming with opportunities for whitewater rafting on safari. From an iconic journey down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon to the Salmon River in Idaho or Oregon’s Rogue River Valley, North America may be our backyard, but it’s chock-full of incredible winding rivers for every level of paddler.
Nepal is well-known for its mountains and treks, but most have no idea that it doubles as one of the world’s best destinations for a whitewater rafting safari. The rivers are long and clean and surrounded by stunning scenery. Add to that highly-skilled and low-cost guides (think river sherpas), and you have all the makings of an epic adventure. Single day trips on the Upper Seti River are your best bet from Pokhara and the most easily reached (only 30-minutes to the put in point from town). The run lasts about 90-minutes and is full of class three and four rapids. With glorious views of the Annapurna Range, it’s the perfect activity to give your legs a break from the trails. You’ll also find single day trips from Kathmandu, but it makes for a very full day with the drive time to and from.