White river rafting is the thrilling recreational outdoor sport than involves embarking on an inflatable raft and navigating your way through bodies of water (typically a river). This activity normally takes place in white waters, or different variations of rough water, in order to provide the raft passengers with as much exhilaration as possible. White water rafting has slowly grown into a leisure sport that became popular in the mid 1970s. However, it is considered an extreme sport to due to the dangerous risks involved.
Modern rafts used in this sport are inflatable boats made of extremely durable, multi-layered rubberized or vinyl materials, with numerous independent air chambers. They typically carry from 4-12 people. In order to navigate your way through the waters, you are provided oars or paddles which you can use to either slow down or propel yourself forward.
Though gentle river cruises can also be fun whilst visiting Africa, the thrilling excitement of an adrenaline-packed activity draws plenty of attention. South Africa in particular is home to some incredible torrential rivers that guarantee exhilarating white river rafting experiences. With the help of professional guides, beginners and experts one can enjoy endless hours of water-based fun with this sport.
Perhaps the most famous river in South Africa, the Orange River, flows through the mountainous desert region known as Richtersveld. Though in most parts the river is calm and scenic, it is also well-known for its exciting rapids. Here, a one day rafting tour above Augrabies is offered, featuring some fantastic (and somewhat calmer) rapids. Close to Joburg, the Vaal River is popular amongst tourists for its small rapids and is a well-loved destination for both families and corporate getaways.
The Doring River is found in the Western Cape of South Africa, and provides white river rafting enthusiasts with the chance to test their skills on the advanced rapids. The Palmiet River that flows through the Kogelburg Nature Reserve is also an exquisite South African white water rapid that offers amazing mechanical rafting opportunities and excellent scenery. The Umkomaas River in KwaZulu-Natal has some awesome and challenging rapids to conquer, as does the Umgeni River that lies just north of the city of Durban. Mpumalanga’s Blyde River is perhaps one of the most beautiful rivers in the whole country, boasting some steep gradients that make for some exhilarating white water rafting.
Numerous companies offer white water rafting packages on the Umkomaas and Buffalo Rivers. Rafting is usually conducted between November-April, depending on the water levels of the rivers. For both beginner and expert rafters, it is an adrenaline-filled journey down one of the most stunning stretches of the Umkomaas River (also currently known as the Mkomazi River). Fully qualified S.A.R.A rated white water rafting guides are available to guide you down 12-24 kilometres of this river, allowing you to encounter various grade 2/3 rapids.
In 1993, the Buffalo River was opened up for white water rafting enthusiasts. In this small part of Zululand, you will discover some of the most incredible rafting in the country. Buffalo River was rated one of the top ten best in Africa by Getaway Magazine, and winds down 19 kilometres through private game farms and the Northern border of Zululand. In amongst the wonderful fun and excitement during these trips, keep your eyes peeled for gorgeous bird and animal life along the riverbanks. Rafting is not for the faint-hearted, but makes for an unforgettable experience.