The snow and glaciers of the world’s mightiest mountains are the source of many rivers, which come to life when the ice begins to melt in spring. Endless rafting and kayaking options exist in Nepal and Chile, with the Sun Kosi and Futaleufú rivers featuring class 5 rapids to challenge even the most expert rafters.
The whitewater in the US, Peru, New Zealand and South Africa is also pleasing, with options to take on gorge drops, waterfalls and roaring rapids as well as equally as many options to float along quiet, wildlife-rich stretches of water. Australia’s Tully River is an ideal option for beginners, passing through the Daintree Rainforest.
Sun Kosi river – Kathmandu, Nepal Rafting in the world’s highest mountains is an experience few rafters would pass on, with the Sun Kosi river in Nepal offering a number of challenging river runs. Rafters can expect narrow gorges, lively rapids and breathtaking scenery, and the river is best experienced on an organized tour.
Rio Futaleufú, Chile Known for its world-class whitewater rafting and demanding kayaking, the Rio Futaleufú is one of Patagonia’s most exciting rivers thanks to its pretty, turquoise-colored waters and class 5 rapids.
Karnarli river, Nepal Nestled in the westernmost reaches of Nepal, the country’s longest river invites rafters to sample its raging whitewater rapids and almost untouched nature. Rafters who travel the Karnarli are sure to get adrenalin kicks aplenty.
Rio Apurímac, Peru Latin America’s best white waters can be found along the Apuímac river, which runs through a scenic, deep canyon near Cusco. The class 3 to 5 rapids here are a highlight, but so is the wildlife and jaw-dropping scenery.
Kaituna river, New Zealand New Zealand is the adventure sports capital of the world, and the rapids along Kaituna river in Rotorua won’t disappoint serious kayakers or rafters. The seven-meter drop here attracts adventurers from around the globe.
Colorado river - Colorado, US The most rafted stretch of the Colorado river is a 10-mile section alongside I-70. Here, organized trips take rafters of all levels through the Glenwood Canyon, while those with experience can continue along the river through class 3 and 4 rapids.
Orange river, South Africa South Africa’s Orange river provides an ideal balance of exciting rapids and smooth sections perfect for relaxed floating. Taking rafters and kayakers through the Richtersveld desert area, the river offers glimpses of this wildlife-rich oasis.
Tully river - Northern Queensland, Australia The Tully river passes through parts of the Daintree Rainforest, taking rafters across roaring whitewater suitable for all levels of rafters. Waterfalls and gorges also feature en route.
Tugela river, South Africa The challenging Tugela river is only suitable for experienced rafters, with two- to eight-seat rafts taking thrill-seekers along the river and through the aptly named Horrible Horace and Four Man Hole rapids.
American river (South Fork) - California, US Rafters come here for the adrenalin-pumping whitewater and rapids, which please all levels of rafters and kayakers. The area is rich in history, with the Californian Gold Rush town of Coloma making for a pleasant stop in between riding rapids.