Whitewater rafting is defined as a recreational activity enjoyed by several passengers in an inflatable rubber boat used for navigating down a river or other fast-moving body of water. If you love adventure and want to do something special for your next vacation, then perhaps a whitewater rafting trip would be the ideal option. Steered by a professional guide, you will make your way through raging water, while enjoying the thrill and adventure of the rapids. The key to a successful whitewater rafting trip is good planning, which is why we decided to provide you with the top five things you need to know.
Safety, Expertise, and Certification
The most important aspect of planning any whitewater rafting trip is to ensure you will be guided down the river by a professional guide, one who knows not just the water and how to steer the boat but also one who is certified as a “Whitewater Rescue” or “Swift-Water Technician”. Additionally, your guide should be certified in CPR, Advanced First Aid, and other common river rescue techniques.
Unfortunately, only about 5% of whitewater rafting guides meet these criteria. While this type of activity is generally, safe and you are required to wear life vests and helmets, sometimes things happen. In this case, you want to ensure you have the best possible guide with you if something were to go wrong. Therefore, as you begin your search, ask questions specific to safety, expertise, and certification, and make sure every passenger will undergo a safety orientation prior to heading down the river.
Special Needs and Children
If you or someone in your group has a special need, make sure you choose an outfit that can accommodate. Remember, whitewater rafting does not exclude people who are not able-bodied. In fact, it is common to see people who normally live in wheelchairs along with people who have other types of disabilities enjoying this kind of activity.
For children, again you want to choose the right whitewater rafting outfitter. However, most gladly welcome children on this type of adventure, knowing it is an excellent family experience. However, you will need to research age and size requirements in that these vary depending on the type of boat, the outfit company itself, the water level, difficulty of the trip, and so on.
Single or Multi-Day Excursions
Some people look for a whitewater rafting trip that will start early in the morning and have them back to their car or campsite by late afternoon. However, other diehard outdoor enthusiasts prefer rafting trips that are multiple day excursions. In this case, you would take your sleeping gear with you down the river and camp out along the banks at night. This experience is truly amazing and one that you will never forget. Therefore, check out all your options to see if a multi-day trip is more to your liking.
Whitewater rafting trips are not all created equal. Therefore, rather than just settle on the first outfit you talk to, take your time to find out about the length of the trip, the amenities included, level of skill for your guide, price per person, equipment rental fees, and gratuity. Obviously, price is just one consideration when booking a whitewater rafting trip and while it should not be the number one factor, it is certainly something to consider in the overall planning.
Additionally, ask about group, student, or corporate discounts. Many times, even the best outfitters will offer a nice discount if you have over a certain number of people in your party, if you are a student, or if you are taking the trip as part of a corporate outing such as a team-building event. In fact, there are even discounts offered in many cases for wedding parties so always ask.
When to Go
Finally, you want to take a whitewater rafting trip when it will be most enjoyable. Obviously, the time of year you choose will depend greatly on the region or country where you plan to raft. However, you can do your own homework pertaining to precipitation, along with dam and reservoir water releases, snowfall, rainfall, and heat or talk to the outfitter to find out what time of year they recommend.
Generally, whitewater rafting in the United States and Canada is best from April to October. However, some rafting outfitters will supply passengers with wetsuits whereby they can take to the river with the first snow runoff in the spring and if water levels permit, later into the year, as late as November.
This article was posted on Aug 5, 2005