If you’re looking for a new challenge, nothing is more exciting than to raft white water. This is an adventure you can find almost anywhere in the world. River rafting is a popular attraction from the Tallapoosa River through America’s Southern backwoods to the sprays of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, Africa. But the abundance of waterways across continents do hold dangers that can overshadow the excitement. For that reason, thrill seekers need to follow some important guidelines.
Few rivers are actually regulated for white water rafting, and many are full of hazards. Especially for the novice, a rule of thumb is to find a good outfitter. This is a company or organization that can provide the proper equipment, guides, transportation, and instruction for specific waterways. They can help first time rafters find a river suitable for their skill levels.
White water rafting is exhilarating and rewarding, but it can be dangerous. Whether you are an expert swimmer or you sink like a rock, you must wear a life vest at all times. You should also wear a helmet, to prevent serious head injuries among the rocky rapids. A wet suit in chilling water can help avoid hypothermia. Stay attuned to weather conditions. Some of the paddling is strenuous, and the excitement keeps adrenalin pumping. Check with your doctor if you’re unsure your heart and lungs can take it.
The season will determine what to wear on the river. Shorts and t-shirts in summer will be fine, and you should apply sunscreen. Cold weather presents a special problem. Fabrics such as cotton cling to your body when wet and make you cooler. Wear wool or special thermal materials. Footwear also is a must on the river. Rocky crags beneath the water can slash bare feet. Wear something flexible that will not weigh you down, nor slip from your feet in the raging currents. Old athletic shoes are a good choice for protection. Bring along some dry clothes in a sealed plastic bag.
Never go on a river alone; everyone needs a buddy system to stay safe and secure. Raging water can swallow even the best swimmer in an instant. A lone rafter could be lost forever. That’s the advantage of using an outfitter. If you have no one to join you on your trip, the outfitter will find companions. On larger rafts, teamwork is vital to manuevering the craft through twists and turns on the river. A guide is a requirement on many regulated riverways, and outfitters provide certified individuals. Outfitters will also take you to the beginning of the run and pick you up at the end.
Length and Cost
Rafting trips can range in length from several hours to a week or more. Travel to the river can be as simple as a bus trip or as elaborate as a helicopter drop. Day-trips can cost as little as $40 to $60 per person, for drop-off and equipment along rural rivers. Grand Canyon trips begin in excess of $400, which includes a flight into the canyon. Weeklong excursions cost up to $2,000 or more to raft white water.