Skip to Content

15 Best Whitewater Rafting in the World

15 Best Whitewater Rafting in the World

If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, whitewater rafting is the activity for you. And if you’re looking for the best white water rafting in the world, look no further than these destinations. From raging rivers to treacherous rapids, these locations will have you clinging to your raft for dear life. So strap on your helmet and prepare for the ride of a lifetime!

If you love the outdoors, then you’ll love white water rafting. It’s a great way to get an adrenaline rush and experience some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. And if that’s not enough reason to try it, here are a few more:

  • You’ll get to see some of the most beautiful parts of the world
  • It’s a great way to get in shape
  • You’ll have a lot of fun and it makes for a great trip with friends

This article will cover the best whitewater rafting trips in the world. It will describe each location, as well as reasons why it made the list. It will also explore the implications that these trips could have on people that love outdoor adventures.

There are several whitewater rafting destinations on every continent where you may arrange your vacation and have the most amazing whitewater adventure imaginable. However, before booking a trip, get yourself prepared and mentally prepared as well.

If your swimming isn’t up to snuff, you’ll need to improve it before you leave especially if you plan on doing a class IV rapids trip. There’s no way you’re going to be able to survive and have a great time if you can’t swim. This is not the place to learn how to swim either so if you’re a beginner, start now.

In addition, rafting trips are physical endeavors and will require some training before your trip. You’ll need to be in good physical condition because you’ll be using muscles you might not have used before. If you’re out of shape, start now by getting some cardio in and lifting weights so your body is strong enough for the challenge.

Now that you know a little bit about what to expect, let’s explore some of the best whitewater rafting rivers and destinations in the world.

Best Whitewater Rafting in the World

Terminator- Futaleufú River, Chile

Terminator- Futaleufu` River, Chile

The Futaleufu River in Chile is one of the best places for whitewater rafting. The rapids are of class V nature and the water is quite big as well. This river is best known for the Terminator rapids which are one of the most extreme rapids experiences in the world.

When going rafting here, you’ll notice that your boat nearly touches the sky. Rafting here has been labeled as one of the most dangerous, thrilling, and difficult activities by various adventure seekers who have visited this location and attempted it.

The guides here also have the same viewpoint regarding the rafting experience and it is said that rafting at the Terminator can almost give you a kind of a heart attack. But that is what a true adventure is.

The white-water rafting journey here might take you to stunning cliffs, exciting thunder, and big waves. So, if your stomach is growling, this whitewater rafting adventure is definitely worth a try. 

See Related: Visiting Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park

Bidwell- Chilko River, British Columbia

Chilko River Rafting
Chilko River, Lava Canyon” by kteague is marked with CC BY 2.0.

This is a class IV nature of rapid situated at British Columbia in North America. The waves at the Bidwell at the Chilko River are huge with deep holes which are quite risky as well but at the same time exciting and thrilling also.

The rafting area is around 14 miles long which is quite a long distance to cover and is counted among the longest rafting stretch till now.

The advice by the guides here is that if your beginning is not correct, then Bidwell can turn out to be the worst experience ever but if the starting is good then it can turn out to be the best experience of your lifetime, and then you don’t even need to any kind of swimming as well.

See Related: 10 Best White Water Rafting in the USA

Big Drops 2 and 3 – Cataract Canyon, Utah

River and Cataract Canyon

Situated on the Colorado River, probably the best rafting rivers in the entire world, these two drops go through the Cataract Canyon and are considered one of the most amazing rapids of class III.

Even though the big drops 2 and 3 are not one of the high-class rapids but when you experience these drops one after the other in real, your heart will surely come out of your mouth.

The Rafting Navigation Area is about 18 kilometers long, and the guides consider it the most thrilling, scary, difficult, and exciting of them all. These two drops are one of North America’s biggest rapids when river rafting is concerned. This makes for one of the best rafting trips you can possibly have.

Lava Falls- Prospect Canyon, Arizona

Lava Falls Rafting

Lava Falls is a famous whitewater rapids on the Colorado River in Arizona, where the river through the Grand Canyon plunges over a cliff. The X-rated rapid has a grade of X and contains falls that are around 37 feet deep, which is considered very deep for rafting rivers.

The guides consider this to be the most difficult and terrifying of course due to the massive black rocks and enormous Lava holes. However, if you can overcome your fears, you may enjoy the lovely facilities at Tequila Beach, which is located at the endpoint of the Lava Falls. 

Since the river runs through the Grand Canyon, you’ll get to pair your rafting trip with multiple things to do such as horse riding, hiking, and the amazing landscapes of Northern Arizona.

Godzilla- Rio Upano River, Ecuador

Rio Upano River Group Rfating

This potential rafting trip is an excellent one, mainly for the continuous whitewater flows of the river that is paired with the unbelievable views of the Andes Mountains in South America.

The view is amazing surrounded by beautiful and sacred waterfalls on both sides of the river with a perfect backdrop of the Andes Mountains and of course the green canyons which are really breathtaking.

The waves of Godzilla can go up to 15 feet high, which is a great height, and the water of the river flows really fast as well, making your rafting more challenging.

The water flow is so fast and high that if you start your rafting from right to left, you will unknowingly end up going from left to right.

See Related: Visiting Caño Cristales and the Rainbow River

Pillow Rapid- Gauley River, West Virginia

Whitewater rafting is popular in West Virginia, which is why it is known as the “raft capital of the world.” It has around five major whitewater rapids and is home to some of the best rafting rivers in the world. Pillow Rapid on the Gauley River is regarded as the finest.

It is class V rapid and the flow of the river is so fast that it can but your rafting boat deep down up to 30 feet. So, in order to avoid such a scary experience, it is advised to go to Pillow Rock so as not to face a bad situation. But all in all, the whitewater rafting experience here is quite amazing and adventurous.

Ghostrider- Zambezi River, Zambia

Zambezi River Rafting

The Ghostrider at the Zambezi River in Zambia is another quite adventurous whitewater rafting destination that you can try out.

Your adventure will be thrilling and memorable, as the name implies. Apart from this, this location offers some incredible rapids, such as the Gnashing Jaws of Death and the Stairway to Heaven.

But the most thrilling of them is the Ghostrider where the size of the waves is so gigantic that your boat merely gets to see the outside world. The rapids are classified as class V, and they’re a tough place to pass.

God’s House- Karnali River, Nepal

Karnali River and Mountains
Karnali River, Nepal 5” by filippo_jean is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

The best time to see this breathtaking spot in Nepal is during the mid-October runoff when the water of the Karnali River is in full high spirits.

The lovely natural beauty surrounding the river, including beautiful lush greenery and dense jungle area as well as massive and towering Himalayan peaks, should be noted.

This is why this region is also known as the Holy House since you can really feel like you’re in heaven. The water current here is of class V quality, with significant waves that race at a high speed.

However, be careful of the big holes; if your rafting boat becomes upside down in one of them, your trek will become 

Bull Sluice- Chattooga River, Georgia

Chattooga River Rafting

The Bull Sluice on the Chattooga River in Georgia is one of the most spectacular and exciting rapids, with Jaw Bone and the Seven Foot Fall among them. It’s a class IV rapid that will undoubtedly provide you with one of the greatest river rafting adventures of your life.

The Bull Sluice has a 14 feet deep drop which is sure to give you an incredible adrenaline rush. Apart from that, the rafting journey here is also quite a challenging one as you get to face a lot of rocks called the Decapitation Rock and of course the big holes which you need to beware of.

The plus point of this site is that there are different routes to reach the rapid of Bull Sluice and the backdrop is extremely beautiful.

Clavey Falls- Tuolumne River, California

Tuolumne River Flowing Water
Tuolumne River” by Region 5 Photography is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Clavey Falls at the Tuolumne River in California is actually a dream rafting kind of an experience. The drops are so frequent that you barely get time to get back to your normal position which means the rafting journey is full of scary moments and is 100 percent a risk one for sure.

Though the rapid is of class I category which means the water speed is slow and calm but you never know when it turns into a storm. The drops are around 8 feet deep and the amazing sound of the water is an unforgettable one. You have to put this rafting destination on your bucket list.

Magpie Falls- Magpie River, Canada

Magpie River in Canada is situated in a very remote and peaceful place surrounded by beautiful mountains covered by pine trees.

The rapid is of class V nature and the drops start as soon as you start your rafting journey from River Magpie and as you move further the depth of the drops and the speed of the rapids go on increasing making your rafting journey more thrilling and challenging.

The scariest rapid comes near the Magpie falls where the waves are gigantic due to the extreme flow of water. After your rafting journey, you can camp around the river islands and ensure the beauty.

See Related: Most Beautiful Running Trails in America

North Johnstone River, Australia

This river provides you with an amazing experience when it comes to river rafting. The river Johnstone is situated in Queensland and is surrounded by beautiful tropical forests and amazing volcanic mountains.

The rapids here range from class IV to class V depending upon the flow of water. The plus point of this place is that a helicopter always supervises your rafting journey and is always there at your starting and endpoints.

The night view of the location is extremely breathtaking and you can create a bonfire and camp around the forest area to make your trip a more adventurous one.

Sun Kosi River, Nepal

Sun Kosi River Rafting
sun-kosi” by rezendi is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Situated at the border of Tibet, the Sun Kosi River in Nepal will give you the most unforgettable experience of rafting. The cherry on the cake is the high peaks of The Great Himalayas and the plain of the Ganges.

The rapid here is of class V nature and the rafting journey is extremely narrow which quite a challenge is for any rafter. The river Sun Kosi is surrounded by beautiful canyon forests which are extremely dense and have amazing wildlife as well.

The drops are quite exciting out here which can pound your heart out. Come prepared.

See Related: Belize’s Stunning Blue Hole

Coruh River, Turkey

Coruh River Rafting

Church River in Turkey tops the list of the most in-demand rafting destinations around the world. This is due to its extremely fast-flowing water and the beautiful backdrop of the Mountains on the Northeastern side of Turkey.

The rapids are quite high due to the speed of water and you can’t even imagine the depth of the drops that you will experience here in your rafting journey.

The river is surrounded by amazing mountains and jungle with a wide variety of wildlife as well like goats and bears. Apart from that, the place has some quite antique and old ruins of castles as well.

Noce River, Italy

River Noce Surrounded by the Forest
River Noce” by Gianni Lupindo is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

The Noce River in Italy is encircled by Alpine glaciers, which means it’s quite far and serene. The rapids are of category V quality and produce a frightening sound as they thunder down the riverbed.

The river trip covers a total of four kilometers, with stunning drops and a stunning jungle landscape to behold. It’s one of the most beautiful rivers in Europe for rafters.

Related Resources

Lock In Your Travel Now
Looking for Extra Travel Perks?
My favorite travel companion is The Platinum Card® from American Express, which gives me lounge access, Uber credits, upgrades, and plenty of other travel perks. If you want to find out the best travel rewards credit card for you, consider using CardMatch to instantly get matched to a travel rewards credit card that meets your travel needs.
Booking Flights

Use Skyscanner to book the cheapest flight possible. Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine as you can find flights around the globe and from every airline possible. You'll be in great shape to get the best price possible.

You must grab a free trial or join Scott's Cheap Flights Premium to get cheap flight alerts directly to your email inbox. My favorite cheap flight alert was 25,000 Delta SkyMiles to London non-stop.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It's a low cost way to ensure your travel plans go smooth no matter what's thrown at it. Use World Nomads to find the best policy for your travel schedule.
Book Your Accommodation
In order to capture the widest selection of properties and the best price, use Booking.com as they have the cheapest rates for guesthouses, hotels, luxury condos, B&Bs and so much more.
Want More Destination Ideas Direct to Your Inbox?
Be sure to join the ViaTravelers Newsletter for expert tips, tricks and inspiration for your next travel journey!