Kayaking, Canoeing & Rafting

White Water Rafting Holidays | A Guide to the World’s Top White Water Spots

The world's top places to go white water rafting

White water rafting holidays are the perfect way to combine your sense of adventure with your passion for rafting. Across the world there are thousands of killer white water rafting spots, crazy rivers, white water centres and acres of stunning natural beauty to explore.

From white water tasters in exotic locations to heart stopping grade 5 waterfalls, here is a list of the top white water rafting adventure holidays that should be on every white water rafter’s bucket list.

Zambezi River, Zambia

Victoria Falls and the Zambezi river – Photo: – KounosuVictoria Falls – Photo: wikipedia org – Kounosu

Plunging 108m over the Victoria Falls, on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Zambezi River is a truly impressive spot for a white water rafting holiday.

Thankfully the white water thrills match the scenic ones in this African rafting paradise. Snaking out below the falls, the river races through a series of deep gorges, giving a dramatic backdrop to your rafting trip with a series of challenging grade 3 – 5 rapids that tear between the steep sided rock walls.

Grand Canyon / Colorado River, Colorado, USA

White water rafting takes you to stunning locations like the Grand Canyon National Park –

A white water rafting holiday to the USA takes you back to where it all began. In 1811 the world’s first ever white water rafting trip took place on the Snake River, Wyoming in a wooden boat. Since then USA has been closely tied to the development of white water rafting with thousands of people taking white water rafting holidays there every year.

If you want to re-enact history then you can head to Wyoming and conquer the Snake’s grade 3 rapids but make sure you don’t miss out on the Colorado river too. This 1,450-mile beast runs south through the states into Mexico and is well known for its pounding white water and epic canyons, including grand daddy of them all, the Grand Canyon.

Elves Chasm, Grand Canyon – Photo:

White water rafting holidays in the Grand Canyon are some of the most popular in the world, seeing more than 22,000 visitors each year. A Grand Canyon white water rafting holiday can take from 1 to 18 days depending on how much of the river you want to see. Rafting gives you a unique view of the hidden areas and geological wonders inside the canyon and with scenery this iconic it will be a trip that stays with you for the rest of your life.

Rangitikei River, New Zealand

It’s no surprise to find adventure sports Mecca New Zealand on this list. From mountain biking, climbing and snowboarding to surfing, potholing, abseiling and canyoneering New Zealand has it all including some of the world’s best white water rafting spots.

Located south of Lake Taupo on New Zealand’s North Island, the Rangitikei is one of the nation’s longest rivers. Running 185 km into the Tasman sea at Tangimoana, the Rangitikei has it all, from gentle grade 2 and 3 water to get you warmed up to back to back grade 4 and 5 rapids which will give you the ultimate rafting rush.

Wadi Adventure White Water Centre, Dubai, UAE

White water rafting at Wadi Adventure, Dubai – Photo:

Proving that with enough money and time you can build almost anything, the team behind Wadi Adventure in Dubai have decided that the desert is a perfect location for a white water centre.

Based in Al Ain on the eastern edge of the United Arab Emirates, Wadi Adventure is a white water park of gigantic proportions. With three different courses, including the 488m expert run, this is the longest set of man made white water channels in the world.

White water rafting at Wadi Adventure, Dubai – Photo:

Offering a combined total of 1.2km of rapids, Adventure Wadi has become a big hit with European white water sports teams for their winter training. When you’re not rubbing shoulders with Olympic hopefuls you can also dive into the world’s largest surf pool, try a spot of wakeboarding or just lounge around with a fresh smoothy and soak up the Arabian sun. As far as white water rafting holidays go, this is has to be one of the most chilled and luxurious around.

Pacuare River, Costa Rica

The river Pacuare, Costa Rica – Photo:

Flowing 108km through Costa Rica to the Carribbean the Pacuare is tropical rafting at its best. If you’re looking for a rafting holiday in an unspoiled jungle wilderness then the Pacuare river should be the top of your list because this river combines white water fun with seriously exotic scenery.

White water falls trace their way down the dark rock gorges that line the Pacuare. Lush green vegetation surrounds rafters on all sides and the calls of nearby animals and birds hint at the abundant wildlife that calls the jungle home. The river’s grade 3 and 4 rapids are punctuated by calmer sections, giving you the chance to spot sloths, toucans and brightly coloured tree frogs as you navigate this Latin American Eden.

Futaleufu River, Chile

The Futaleufu River, Chile – Photo:

This is definitely NOT a holiday for beginner white water rafters, but if you have the experience and the guts then the Futaleufu is an adventure you’ll never forget.

Roughly translated Futaleufu means ‘Big River’ and this is pretty much as big as it gets. Fed by glacial snow melt in the Andean lakes region the Futa’s deep blue water can reach flows of up to 453 cubic metres per second, 30 times faster than an Olympic white water centre. With 14 miles of class 5 rapids running at this speed, the Futa is a relentless white water ride that will push top level rafters to the limit and still have them coming back for more.

White water rafting on the Futaleufu River, Chile – Photo:

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