10 of the Best Spots for White Water Rafting

Posted on November 6, 2012 by

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.

1 Zambezi River, Zimbabwe

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.

White Water Rafting - 14
Flickr photo by christophercjensen

2 Colorado River, Grand Canyon

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.

"Light and shadow and time" - Colorado River - Grand Canyon
Flickr photo by Al_HikesAZ

3 Rio Pacuare, Costa Rica

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.

Rafting Costa Rica
Flickr photo by jurvetson

4 Futaleufu River, Chile

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.

Turquoise water and beautiful scenery
Flickr photo by Northwest Rafting Company

5 Salmon River, Idaho 

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.

Middle Fork Salmon River
Flickr photo by ConanTheLibrarian

6 Yangtze River, China

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.

The Yangtze River (Oct, 11)
Flickr photo by sullivan_ng

7 Magpie River, Canada

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.

Magpie River Falls, Wawa
Flickr photo by gr_h_m

8 Ganges River, India

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 >[email protected]<

9 Rhine River, Switzerland

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

10 Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand

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.

Class 2
Flickr photo by thebrettburton

Have you tried rafting in any of these places? Did we miss any good rafting spots? Share with us below!

About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

110 Responses to “10 of the Best Spots for White Water Rafting”

  1. Hyorin155 November 7, 2012 11:29 pm #

    Whitewater Rafting Laurel Highlands is a cool and a great idea for family and friends bonding.

    • @WildJunket December 28, 2012 2:27 pm #

      Thanks for the suggestion. We've never been to Laurel Highlands, but will definitely go read up more about it!

  2. Enjoyment November 9, 2012 3:01 am #

    This is a great list of resources. They are really the best spots for water rafting..

  3. Jarmo November 10, 2012 8:24 am #

    Damn, I love white water rafting, but I haven't been to any of those!

    • @WildJunket December 28, 2012 2:28 pm #

      hey Jarmo, good to see you here! We are huge fans too, love white water rafting, especially in the icy cold water of Iceland!

  4. tripideas4u November 19, 2012 2:34 am #

    Great Article, you forgot the Snake River in Oregon. A great idea for family and friends bonding But I think that they clearly do not understand the concept of family fun and servicing customers.

  5. remlaph November 20, 2012 8:29 am #

    I can't believe you left the Sun Kosi – Nepal offf the list! Otherwise, brilliant!

  6. Morocco Festivals December 5, 2012 9:52 am #

    Beautiful places!. the last picture was actually funny, but fun is a key element in traveling :)

  7. David @ MalaysiaAsia December 6, 2012 10:19 am #

    Hi Nell! How's new life? Anyway, I had to look at your 10 and totally disagree. It should be 10 spots for water rafting. not best. How could you not include Malaysia's Padas River during the rainy season? It gets to Class 5 and sometimes 6! Adrenaline pumping action in Tea colored waters.

    Anyway, look forward to catching up with you one day in 2013.


    • @WildJunket December 28, 2012 2:29 pm #

      hey David, good to hear from you! I haven't been to Padas River myself but heard about it – definitely hope to get there someday and perhaps add it to our list. :)

  8. Jessica Festa December 7, 2012 12:11 am #

    Love this! I'm going to Costa Rica in a couple months so will definitely save this post. I would also add the Tully River in Cairns, Austalia. What a beautiful and fun experience!

    • @WildJunket December 28, 2012 2:30 pm #

      Thanks for the suggestion! We were recently in Queensland but never made it to Cairns, perhaps we will try it there another time. Have fun in Costa Rica!

  9. Fairfield Limo December 11, 2012 3:12 pm #

    This is an Awesome blog post!!! Thanks for it! I'm going to try the Magpie River in Canada woo hoo! Thanks again!

  10. Reena @ Wanderplex December 13, 2012 6:12 pm #

    I've never been whitewater rafting before – what do you think is a good place for beginners? Or is it more the specific trail/run that matters?

    • @WildJunket December 28, 2012 2:31 pm #

      There are plenty of spots for beginners, depending on which geographical location you're located at. I tried it in Chiangmai, Thailand, as well as the Amazon in Ecuador, and they were both Class II and fairly mild.

  11. Rohit @ Couponlava December 14, 2012 4:14 am #

    Wow! This is really a great list. Looking at the photos, the guys at #10 (Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand) seem to be in trouble.

  12. Migration Expert December 20, 2012 11:39 pm #

    I am very scared as a chickened to try water rafting because I am not a good swimmer. But reading this article makes me realize why not try it! Hopefully I can survive the challenge.

  13. Bijaya Ghimire December 24, 2012 2:57 pm #

    The list seems great but i was expecting Trishuli River Rafting from Nepal on the list.

  14. Rachel December 26, 2012 10:20 am #

    The Grand Canyon is just so jaw dropping. Can't help but imagine and wonder how this marvelous landmarks had been made. As always, it is considered one of the world famous wonders

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  16. Tom Ludindi January 3, 2013 7:25 am #

    Great list. When it comes to white water rafting in Africa, It is probably debatable which the best spot is between the Zambezi and the White Nile in Uganda. Those who have been to Jinja Uganda swear that the White Nile offers the best white water rafting in the whole world (up to class-5). The White Nile, especially near and around Jinja, has arguably higher water volumes than the Zambezi, more scenic sites, and tougher and rougher rapids. I would add it to this list.

  17. Suzzane January 7, 2013 10:06 am #

    My Favorite spot is The Costa Rica .. I love the class III rapids for water rafting!

  18. josie January 7, 2013 4:49 pm #

    I've been to a bunch of these spots and love rafting! While I agree that while in Africa, the Zambezi is a must, I have to agree with Tom (above). Do NOT overlook the Nile while in Uganda. My best rafting experience to date for sure!

  19. Nico January 9, 2013 8:54 pm #

    The photo of the rafting in Northern Thailand looks a bit tricky.

  20. John January 10, 2013 3:39 pm #

    This is a great list. I went rafting in Tyrol, Austria. Itbwas quite awesome. Jumping into that freezing water literally took my breath away.

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  22. Tirupati Devasthanam January 11, 2013 7:05 am #

    very nice article and excellent information.

  23. TammyOnTheMove January 17, 2013 4:47 am #

    Rafting in Chile looks amazing. I have gone rafting in Brazil once (near Curitiba) and because at the time they had just set up the rafting company we were one of the first tourists who had done the trip. It was amazing, but somewhat scary as we weren't sure how experienced the crew was and it didn't help that his commands were in Portugese either. :-)

  24. facebook fans January 21, 2013 5:54 am #

    Dubare is a picturesque forest area famous for its elephant training camp. It is located on the banks of the river Cauvery in between Siddapur and Kushalnagar. During the reign of erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore, this place was used to train elephants for the Mysore Dussehra festival.

    An elephant training camp of the Forest Department of Coorg is located here. Local tribe, Kurba, dwell in Dubare. Here, you can observe and learn a great deal about the elephants. Also, visitors can take part in a number of activities with the elephants.

    Dubare offers a number of trekking opportunities and also you can indulge in adrenalin pumping activity like river rafting. The place due to its sublime verdant beauty is also a preferred destination for nature lovers.

    River rafting at Dubare is on the magnificent river Cauvery. The river is wide and the rapids here are less, which makes rafting easy. There are two rafting options available for the rafters—8.5 km run and 12 km run. The longer run depends on the water level.

    You pass through thick forests and scenic surroundings negotiating mostly the calm rapids. River rafting here allows you to rejuvenate yourself and enjoy the flow of the river. River rafting here is safe and it’s usually a smooth stretch.

  25. Richard Crest January 22, 2013 3:04 am #

    That was really exciting river activities. I would love to experience the thrill in Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand river.

  26. province January 23, 2013 5:42 am #

    That places seems to be very exciting to have water rafting though it sounds a bit scary.

  27. Jonny Blair January 23, 2013 6:41 am #

    Nice list – can I also recommend Bled in Slovenia and Juquitiba in Brazil – amazing places to go white water rafting! Jonny

  28. Arnar Olaffson January 23, 2013 8:58 am #

    Thanks for sharing all the best places for water rafting. Recently I visited to Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand and enjoyed my vacation a lot with my family and some of the friends. I have visited some of the places that you have shared here. I am planning to visit Iceland in my next vacation as I heard that Iceland is a lovely planet and travelers love to go there and spend there vacation with their family and friends. Waiting for my next vacation as I am very excited to visit the place.

  29. Jamie January 23, 2013 6:20 pm #

    These places look incredible. I would love to try them all! I have only been rafting in four different countries, but my absolute favourite was Uganda. I think you should add it to your list because, wow. :)

  30. exotic travels January 24, 2013 5:40 am #

    My first water rafting experience was really great! :)

  31. Huawei Ascend D2 GPS January 24, 2013 9:12 pm #

    Water rafting is one of the most thrilling and sensational adventure sports known to humans. Yet, before engaging in this activity you must first ensure your safety so that you'll have a fun and memorable escapade.

  32. Jan January 25, 2013 12:26 pm #

    This is so COOL, I've never tried river rafting and I don't think I would ever do it, but it looks amazing!

    • Nellie January 30, 2013 4:37 am #

      River rafting is SO much fun! Give it a go – maybe you can start on a Class I or II river – and you might just get hooked!

  33. Vinnie January 29, 2013 1:01 am #

    I am already fascinated with Futaleufu River, majestic waves with picturesque backdrop makes for some exciting adventure and sight seeing.

  34. michael January 31, 2013 11:17 am #

    my first experience of river rafting is great .so nice post
    feel free to visit my site http://www.michaelgorman.org/

  35. Najib February 2, 2013 9:22 am #

    I like the fact that one african country is in the top of your list, it's actually one of the best tourism sites in africa and with all the other it makes a very great travel-list.

  36. kiefer February 6, 2013 2:25 am #

    Awesome places for so much of water adventures. i just love it :)

  37. Paul (The City Lane) February 6, 2013 7:45 am #

    White water rafting is not the sort of this that this urban traveller would usually want to do, but after reading this post I might have to reconsider!

  38. Casey Camilleri February 7, 2013 3:09 am #

    This is an awesome list. Thanks so much for putting it together. I did white water rafting for the first time (level 2) in Austria and absolutely loved it! Since I live in California I think I gotta hit up Colorado. I had no idea Costa Rica would be on this list. Thanks again for the info!

  39. Mikeike February 8, 2013 9:10 am #

    you got a good list here…Magpie River in Canada looks exciting huh!:)

  40. Le Meridien Jakarta February 11, 2013 6:12 am #

    This list is very wonderful water riding places……And very good photography….nice information…

  41. Jam @icoSnap February 11, 2013 10:23 am #

    Awesome! The Mae taeng river definitely looks like the most fun one. Hopefully I can go visit there in the next year or so.

  42. Genelia Martin February 12, 2013 7:49 am #

    That was really amazing pic of white rafting.I like rafting .Thank u for great list of information.

  43. Peter Lee February 16, 2013 7:52 am #

    River rafting is really good sports and fun too. One can enjoy a lot. I am lucky that I tried two places among these ten best places. India and Thailand. Ganga river is very good choice and I enjoyed the white water rapids at Rishikesh which was 36 km long.

  44. Duy Khánh February 18, 2013 10:07 pm #

    The mekong river in Vietnam is best spots for white water rafting

  45. Backpack travel bag February 19, 2013 3:54 am #

    wow!!! awesome places…
    Thanks so much for helping to promote this event! We’re looking forward to it being a lot of fun. Hope to see you there!

  46. brunch sherbrooke February 25, 2013 5:26 am #

    Some great photos. I have very fond memories of the city.

  47. The Travel Tart February 25, 2013 11:00 pm #

    Definitely one for the adrenalin junkies!

  48. shaz February 26, 2013 11:39 am #

    Some fantastic images

  49. Thomas Dembie February 26, 2013 1:07 pm #

    Great list! I recently visited Zimbabwe and it truly is an amazing spot for rafting. Spectacular scenery! In addition to the Magpie River in Canada I would also recommend the Ottawa River.

  50. india visa February 26, 2013 11:17 pm #

    Switzerland and Costa Rica are my personal favorite for water rafting. but water rafting in Zambezi River looks adventurous.

  51. Incredible India February 27, 2013 1:31 am #

    Nice pics with nice descriptions. This is very rare to me. Thanks for sharing this. keep it up.

  52. Higher Limits Trek February 28, 2013 1:28 am #

    We are not agree with this because you left the Seti River Rafting in Nepal. Seti means white so Nepal is really popular for White Water Rafting http://www.nepalholiday.travel/rafting.php the water in river totally white if you don't believe come and experience yourselves also we arrange all the travel/ trekking related activities in Nepal, Tibet & Bhutan………….come and join us for adventure experience for a lifetime memory.

  53. Vinish Parikh March 1, 2013 1:58 am #

    Great list there, i really love these sports and i hope i will do some of these activities in future whenever i have earned enough money and have free time.

  54. Karol Klines March 4, 2013 3:14 am #

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  55. Pam Fat March 6, 2013 3:30 am #

    I don't know how to swim just in case we fell off. Hahaha! Anyway, I find this article really good and exciting. I'd like to try this kind of activity.

  56. John Walsen March 6, 2013 8:50 am #

    Oh boy as soon as i saw the rafting picture in that post i became all fired up.From the places you listed there ,i've only been to switzerland and i can tell it was definitely awesome.I was planning a trip to costa rica this year so rafting its something that i will try out.


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  59. Gomzy Decor March 9, 2013 4:22 am #

    Very good List.. i would like to go to Ganges River because of its significant History..

  60. econo lodge drive March 14, 2013 1:43 am #

    Thanks Friend……..
    your story will be very useful for me. I love water rafting….
    i am on travel. So will be go these places……

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  63. travel March 24, 2013 6:00 am #

    These awesome spots are definitely will go to my list and white water rafting must be an experience of a lifetime. My friends told me that somewhere in the Philippines would be a perfect spot.

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  65. Daniel Williams March 27, 2013 8:16 am #

    You forgot to mention white water rafting wales – although the Zambezi River looks pretty good too :)

  66. Gorge Scrambling March 27, 2013 8:39 am #

    I did the Colorado river last year, was one of the best experiences of my life and I'd highly recommend it to anyone looking for that outdoor activity adventure.

  67. The Daily Tripper March 29, 2013 9:39 am #

    great stuff here. I once tried the one in Idaho Rivers. and that was an awesome experience. I bet I should the other places you mentioned!

  68. Bol Croatia March 29, 2013 10:35 am #

    Great post! I love wild water rafting, I tried it couple of times in river Cetina, Croatia. This is definitely great list, and I really enjoy the pics.

  69. Wilson Ng April 3, 2013 10:19 pm #


    Chiang Mai is popular for that and I think Bali can make it to the list as well. Buzz me when you drop by in Malaysia.


  70. Stefan April 6, 2013 3:12 pm #

    Great list but personally I would rank the Soca river in Slovenia higher than Rafting in Switzerland.

  71. Almas April 8, 2013 1:52 pm #

    Big thank for this great list of diferent rafting trips.. it helped me a lot to plan our new holiday!

  72. Neetuagarwal April 9, 2013 6:28 am #

    White water rafting in India is almost exclusively confined to the northern rivers which flow southwards from the Himalayas, gushing between densely forested mountains and through steep gorges. Rivers such as the Alaknanda, Bhagirathi, Indus, Zanskar and Teesta offer `raft-worthy’ rapids, and a trip down a river can be a great way to see the countryside. Its just a quite thrilling experience.

  73. Mogan-Apartments April 9, 2013 6:44 am #

    It is really wonderful list shared here about water spots. Really enjoyed your worthy and so informative post. Nice work.

  74. InsideSoutheastAsia April 9, 2013 1:11 pm #

    OMG! I love this list and the Colorado landscape certainly looks majestic!

  75. Monnette April 14, 2013 1:19 am #

    You can also try river rafting in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines. Even first-timers can do it.

  76. resorts hervey bay April 16, 2013 10:44 am #

    What a great list for water rafting. Love to experience that of Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand. Nice share!!

  77. Exam Informer April 16, 2013 1:38 pm #

    Well, I like Rafting and i feel amazing when see the given rafting places in all over world. Thanks for providing such a wonderful places. This is very impressive blog.

  78. Shalu April 21, 2013 3:58 am #

    Great list but I am afraid of doing this.

  79. physics.com.sg April 21, 2013 7:14 am #

    This is my comment, thanks bro lovin it

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    I’ll stick a link to this blog on my website. I am sure my visitors will think of this info very great

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  82. Canyoning Wales April 23, 2013 6:51 am #

    Great Article. Undoubtedly the Zambezi River deserves the number one spot on the list. The only other one I've visited is the Magpie River in Canada, which is fantastic and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to give white water rafting a go.

  83. hotel near Seaworld April 29, 2013 2:46 am #

    Informative post! Thanks for sharing!
    My Favorite spot is The Ganges River and Colorado River.

  84. Travellooga May 1, 2013 8:11 am #

    Wonderful spots. These make me curious to visit them as soon as possible. By the way i most like water rafting. Thanks for information.

  85. Richard Crest May 5, 2013 11:31 pm #

    All are very interesting to visit and try water extreme adventures. Thanks for sharing this!

  86. Steven Collison May 6, 2013 10:11 pm #

    For a second there, I thought the Zambezi tour would be done at the top of Victoria falls. Now that would be quite the adrenaline rush.

  87. Cruises In Nile May 6, 2013 10:16 pm #

    Wow great river adventure. Wooohho i wish i can go to this place also. All amazing place and truly deserved for a travels. thanks :)

  88. Diana May 13, 2013 7:47 am #

    I'd definitely go Zambezi River!

  89. jenny May 14, 2013 10:01 pm #

    Those sound like great places to get out on the water. I did some rafting recently in Ecuador, in a place called Baños. It isn't the most advanced rafting trip in the world but it had a lot of rustic charm and some fantastic scenery

    • Nellie May 15, 2013 9:37 pm #

      We actually did rafting in Baños as well, loved the experience!

  90. gerald May 28, 2013 10:20 pm #

    My first thank you for the article photos on this site.
    my likes see it, however sorry I did not accidentally daydreaming here and I also did not know because what …
    hopefully can inspire many people. success always

  91. Richard May 30, 2013 10:00 am #

    Great post! I've enjoyed Class 2-5 rapids just outside Jasper, Alberta, Canada National Park, along the Athabasca, Fraser and the Sunwapta rivers. all so cool being in the Canadian Rockie Mountains.

  92. Deepak Khanal June 9, 2013 12:09 pm #

    Really great picture and interesting informative article, really nice to read different comment, it is really nice thrilling adventure,and Nepal also have really adventure white rafting in different grade river

  93. sachin @ tour India June 10, 2013 5:55 am #

    White water rafting!!…the only thing that appears in my brain is thrill and a lot of adventure. I really want to go for rafting this summer.

  94. beth jackson June 12, 2013 10:05 pm #

    Nothing compares to the adventures that unfold at Endless River Adventures in NC. The teams are amazing, great guides and the rivers are beautiful. I am very surprised they are not on this list!!!

  95. payman torkiyan July 10, 2013 6:28 pm #

    I think you missed out on some great river runs! Washington has a quite a few rivers that are amazing to river raft on.

  96. Phi Phi Offers July 17, 2013 6:06 pm #

    If some one needs to be updated with most up-to-date technologies
    then he must be pay a visit this web site and be up to date daily.

  97. rivernrange July 29, 2013 1:36 am #

    Rishikesh has established itself as the most favored places in India for white water rafting. River Rafting is, undoubtedly, the most exciting adventure sport in India. Any trip to India is incomplete until you get a taste of river rafting in the writhing waters of Ganges and it is famous place for rafting in rishikesh.

  98. Sorin February 25, 2014 4:32 pm #

    for me, the best rafting experience was in Uganda. Had two major class-5 rafts! It was amazing!

  99. Naomi April 25, 2016 7:12 pm #

    Awesome, I am always be a fan of this activity. I remembered the last time I visit Cagayan de Oro for rafting, the experience was great and would like to come back again.

  100. Marneemon October 2, 2016 12:53 pm #

    Wow! Chieng Mai is on the list. I should try once


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