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7 of the world’s best white water rafting destinations

Calling all adrenaline junkies. If you prefer your fun of white-knuckle ferocity, it’s time to don your lifejacket and head for the world’s finest white water rafting destinations. Here are seven of them - as well as a note on travel insurance for white water rafting. 

White water rafting is surging in popularity. That’s a good thing. It means that when you need your adrenal glands tickling, it's easy to find reputable businesses right across the world who will guide you along the world’s greatest rivers for rafting - and kit you out to boot. Whether you are looking for a half-day adventure or a two-week rafting odyssey, you won't struggle to find your ideal holiday.

But where should you go? Well, not every river has rapids. So expect to travel off the beaten track. A lot also depends on your ability. Choosing your rapids of choice is made easier by a classification system that ranks rivers based on their difficulty - from a heart-racingly challenging Class V for experienced rafters down to a more leisurely Class I for those dipping toes for the first time.

Either way, you’re in for some serious fun.

Colorado River, Grand Canyon, Arizona

The best way to get a feel for the scale of the world’s deepest gorge? Raft along the river that cuts through the Grand Canyon. Trips range from half-day sojourns to 18-day extravaganzas, with rapids of Class IV - V difficulty. Back on dry land you are never further than a short hike from ancient Navajo ruins and extraordinary waterfalls.

Zambezi River, Zambia

You need some serious skill to take on the Zambezi. (It’s not nicknamed the Slam-bezi for nothing!) But experienced rafters are rewarded with one of the most exciting stretches of river on the planet: 23 Class IV - V rapids in a 15-mile stretch below the Victoria Falls, culminating in the wave they call Oblivion - every bit as ferocious as it sounds. Be prepared to get wet. Going overboard is all but guaranteed. But hey, this is Africa. The water’s warm.

Río Upano, Ecuador

With a giddy mix of gentle rapids and epic rides through impossibly narrow canyons, the Río Upano has something for every rafter. The highlight however is the sights and sounds of the lushly frondescent rainforest that envelops you. Don’t be surprised if you spot a toucan or ten.

Magpie River, Canada

If you don’t come for the rapids - which increase in difficulty as you make your way downstream on a multi-day adventure - come for the overnight camping. The banks of the river provide some of the best seats in Canada to observe one of Mother Nature’s most jaw-dropping performances: the aurora borealis. Or for a less challenging adventure, head for the Ottawa River. With plenty of calm stretches it’s great for first-time rafters.

Noce River, Italy

It’s one of the top rafting destinations in Europe - and with good reason. The thoroughly enjoyable 28km of navigable river can be conquered in one adrenaline-filled day. Just don’t forget to raise your eyes from the rapids whenever you get chance. Flowing through the epic Dolomites mountain range, the Noce gives you a uniquely stunning viewpoint of towering peaks and glacial passes.

Sun Kosi River, Nepal

It’s a tributary of the Ganges and a must-visit for any devoted rafting fan. Your Himalayan descent takes in narrow gorges, thunderous waves and forested canyons - culminating in a comparatively calm stretch through thick tropical jungle where monkeys can be heard calling among the treetops.

Futaleufú River, Chile

The water of the Futaleufú coruscates with cool electric blue hues. For that you can thank the glacier lakes high in the Andes that feed this bewitching river. It’s peppered with rough rapids and Class V drops for the experienced rafters, though there are long stretches that are plenty suitable for novices. Added bonus: there are plenty of permanent river camps on the banks of the river, complete with hot tubs, beds and warm showers.

Don’t go without us!

White water rafting is a fabulous way to inject some adventure into your travels. But you could get into deep water if your travel insurer doesn’t know about your plans. Especially if something unexpected happens. At World First we cover all kinds of rafting - even the really high-octane stuff - for a small additional premium on your travel insurance policy. So you can splash out in confidence, without sinking your holiday budget.

Find your policy in seconds at World-First.co.uk.

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