Whitewater rafting has become such a popular extreme sport among travelers that many destinations around the world have become famous for their thrilling and challenging rivers. As fun and exciting as it may be, we can’t forget that whitewater rafting entails an element of risk due to the elements of nature. No matter how easy or challenging your rafting experience might be; you should always follow these basic tips to ensure that your thrilling experience is as safe as possible.
Prepare beforehand – If you have never gone rafting, you should educate yourself on the sport. Know what it is and what you should be capable of doing. Be honest with yourself. Don’t try doing a Class V river on your first ride.
Know your physical limitations – Are you a good swimmer? Can you endure upper body exercises for a couple hours? If so, good! If not, try taking some swimming lessons before your trip. Exercising your upper body is good to achieve some resistance on longer rafting trips.
Know the Classifications – Rivers are classified in six classes –from Class I (easy) to Class VI (likelihood of death if attempted). For first timers, a Class II (or even Class III) is a good place to start while still having a thrilling experience. Choose your Class according to your physical limitations.
Know the river – Rivers have different behaviors during the year. Summer rafting is usually calmer, due to low water volume. On the other hand, some rivers take advantage of the melting snow –more water flow– and some even have daily dam releases.
Check local regulations – Some countries might have an age limitation to raft. Some places don’t allow rafters under the age of 12.
NEVER go rafting alone – Rafting should never be done solo. If you’re a newbie rafter, try going with an experienced guide. If you’re experienced, do go with other experienced rafters. But never alone.
ALWAYS listen to your guide – Your guide knows what you should do and when to do it during your trip. DO always follow their instructions. Common things you will hear during your raft will be: lean left/right, bounce, sit in/out, paddle, stop paddling, and high five!
Don’t drink alcohol before the trip – I know you want to have fun, right? But, drinking alcohol before rafting will not only endanger yourself, but also be a risk to other rafters.
Do not raft in the dark – Rafting should be done while there is plenty of sunlight. Try coordinating your trip so that it ends before darkness falls. In some rivers there is “moonlight” rafting, but these should only be done with well-experienced companies and guides. Rafting in a pitch-black river can be kind of creepy!
Choose a good life jacket – ALWAYS wear a life jacket and helmet. Your life jacket should feel comfortable –not too big and not too small. It shouldn’t reduce your movements’ flexibility.
Always have a good grip – Feel comfortable where you are sitting and know how you can get a good grip (with your hands and feet). The ride will most likely be jumpy and you don’t want to fall all the time, right?
Float feet forward – If you get to fall in the water, when possible, do try to jump back into the raft; if not, float with your feet forward. Your feet should float right at the “top” of the water, this will prevent them from getting stuck between rocks or injuring yourself. Let yourself go with the current and NEVER try standing in the river.
These are some of the most important tips you should follow in order to have a successful, safe, and thrilling whitewater rafting experience. Go on and try it, the thrill and adrenaline will make you want to do it again!
Originally posted 2012-02-17 16:24:34.