Whitewater Kayaking: Ride the World’s Most Thrilling Rapids

Can’t wait for the rush of waterfall drops and heart-pumping aerials? Whitewater kayaking on the world’s most thrilling rapids brings the action you’re craving. Along with adventure, these destinations put you in the heart of towering canyons, wildlife and lush rainforests. Pack your daring spirit and get ready for the ride of a lifetime.

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Salmon River, USA

Idaho’s Salmon River is known as the ‘river of no return’, so that gives you some idea of the whitewater kayaking thrills in store. From Class I to Class IV rapids, big waves, holes and challenges are a given. Middle Fork is the bucket list spot, offering continuous whitewater and rapids including Tappan Falls with a series of back-to-back drops.

Along the way, you’ll discover scenic, sandy beaches, snow-capped mountain peaks and lush forests. If you’re trying to find the best whitewater kayak for you, check out the Dagger Mamba and Riot Kayaks Magnum 80.

whitewater rafting salmon river

Zambezi River, Zimbabwe

Whitewater kayaking in the Zambezi River takes place below the mighty Victoria Falls. Along with a dazzling array of Class IV rapids, you might even spot hippos and crocodiles. Rapids include ‘Stairway to Heaven’, which is widely considered as one of the biggest in the world. ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ is a long, technical ride with gigantic waves. ‘Oblivion’ is a photographer’s dream, with three waves to surf and the reputation of regularly somersaulting rafts.

Kaituna River, New Zealand

How would you like to tackle one of the world’s highest commercially-rafted waterfalls? In Rotorua, on New Zealand’s North Island, you can. The seven-meter drop is called Tutea Falls and there are others to get your heart racing too. Rated Class V due to the waterfalls, the Kaituna also offers Class III rapids that are suitable for beginners. You can take a break between thrills across long, refreshing pools, surrounded by lush, green forests and deep gorges.

whitewater kayaking

Pacuare River, Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Pacuare River flows majestically to the Caribbean Sea. Its tropical location means that the waters are warm and surrounded by wild rainforests filled with exotic birds and monkeys. Here, you’ll ride Class III to IV rapids, while navigating canyons, gorges and waterfalls. For experienced paddlers, turbulent, high waves and tight passages bring the challenges. If you’re looking for an inflatable kayak for ease of travel, check out Advanced Elements Attack Whitewater Kayak.

Colorado River, USA

There’s no doubt that Colorado is one of the best whitewater kayaking destinations in the world. You could spend weeks riding different rapids, not to mention paddling the famous waters through the Grand Canyon. The season generally runs from May to September and rapids range from Class I to VI. You’ll experience dramatic spills through canyons and incredible views along the way. Don’t miss out on House Rock Rapid, the tight canyon walls of Skull Rapid and the massive waves of Hermit Rapid.

whitewater kayaking colorado

Sjoa River, Norway

Norway’s mountainous landscapes provide otherworldly backdrops for whitewater kayaking. When the snow from winter melts, river water flows spectacularly, especially through the Sjoa River. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, you’ll find thrills and spills to match your skills. Ledges, drops, slides and sweeping bends characterize continuous rapids, and make for a challenging and technical ride.

Whitewater Kayaking Top Tip

If you’re new to whitewater kayaking, it’s best to take tours of the world’s most exciting rapids. This way, experienced guides ensure safety precautions are met and also that you’ll make the most of your adventure! To get some practice before you go, improve your skills in a versatile kayak, like the Liquid Logic Remix.

Then, you’ll be ready to get out there and ride thrilling rapids across the globe!

whitewater kayaking

Do you have a favorite kayaking destination? We’d love to know, in the comments below.
Nicole West

Nicole Leigh West is an internationally published travel and lifestyle writer. She's traveled to more than 60 countries and you'll most often find her kayaking, diving and swimming across the globe.

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