The World’s 13 Best Multi-Day River Rafting Trips
When river guides banter around the campfire, conversation usually turns to the biggest rapids and the best river trips in the world. Although everyone has their favorites, the list of legendary rivers is almost always the same.
1. Middle Fork of the Salmon River (Idaho)
The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is one of the Best Rafting Trips in the World
In my opinion, the “Middle Fork” is the best river trip in the world due to its 100 miles of continuous Class III and IV whitewater, clean water, great camps, world class fishing, hot springs, and abundant wildlife. It ends in the famously beautiful Impassable Canyon that is unlike any other in the world. Typically done in 6 days (perfect!), this is a river trip that brings groups together like no other. ( Learn more about trips on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River )
2. Illinois River (Oregon)
Camping at South Bend on the Illinois River
The magical Illinois River flows through the northern end of Oregon’s Kalmiopsis Wilderness, an area known for uniquely wild rivers and emerald green water. There really is something special about this river and surrounding wilderness that cannot be described in words. Unfortunately the flows are erratic and the rapids challenging making it difficult to access. ( Learn more about the Illinois River )
3. Colorado River (Arizona)
Big water on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon
The Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is special because you float through one of the seven wonders of the world and trips can be as long as 25 days! This is a big water river with pushy rapids and long pools in between. This is definitely the best river trip for side hikes. ( Learn more about the Colorado River )
4. Futaleufu River (Chile)
Rafting Chile’s mighty Futaleufu River
Patagonia’s Futaleufu (Foo-Two-Lay-Foo) River is well known for it’s huge rapids and turquoise blue water. The mountain scenery is stunning and the traveling through Chile is simply wonderful. This is the best trip for big rapids. ( Learn about the Futaleufu River )
5. Tuolumne River (California)
Hells Kitchen Rapid on California’s Tuolumne River
The Tuolumne River (or just the “T”) has a special place in my heart, so it was hard to not rank it #1. The Main Tuolumne sets the standard for Class IV and the Upper Tuolumne (aka Cherry Creek) sets the standard for Class V. Theses sections of the “T” cascade through a deep canyon in the Sierra Nevada Mountains just outside of Yosemite National Park. ( Learn more about the Tuolumne River )
6. Magpie River (Canada)
A trip on the Magpie starts by flying onto a wilderness lake via float plane. Like other legendary trips, the Magpie offers great rapids, side hikes, wildlife, and adds an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the mystical aurora borealis. The highlight is the last night camp where Magpie Falls plunges off an 80 foot plateau directly across the river.
7. Rogue River (Oregon)
Taking in the beauty of Stair Creek on the Rogue River
The Wild Rogue River is the classic American West river trip and it’s the perfect trip for first timers. It has great Class II and III rapids and warm water in a thickly forested canyon. This is the best river trip for families and for viewing wildlife. ( Learn more about NWRC trips on the Rogue River )
8. Franklin River (Australia)
Australia’s Franklin River | Photo courtesy of Franklin River Rafting
The Franklin River famously runs through the rugged wilderness of Tasmania. This remote expedition includes many portages and the added challenge of rapidly changing water levels. You’ll enjoy big rapids, deep gorges, and beautiful camps sites.
9. Selway River (Idaho)
Rafting the Selway River | Photo courtesy of ARTA River Trips
The Selway is a remote trip on a beautiful Class IV river in Northern Idaho. Only one trip is allowed to launch each day making it hard to get on this gem. ( Learn more about rafting the Selway River)
10. Tatsenshini and Alsek Rivers (Yukon and Alaska)
Rafting on the Alsek River
These parallel rivers flow through some of the most remote regions in the U.S. and Canada. The whitewater is fairly easy (unless you run Turnback Canyon on the Upper Alsek) but the grizzly bears, cold water, and remoteness will present plenty of challenges. You can start on the Tatshenshini River and meet the larger Alsek River or run the Upper Alsek. Both trips end where the Alsek runs into the Pacific Ocean. ( Learn more about the Alsek from our friends at Wilderness River Outfitters )
11. Karnali River (Nepal)
Karnali means “holy water from the sacred mountain” since it starts at Mount Kailash in Tibet. It is the longest river in Nepal and the classic long river trip in a country full of long river trips. The Karnali ends in the lush jungles of Bardia National Park.
12. Kaa-Khem River (Siberia)
Russian style catamaran on the Kaa Khem River in Siberia
The Kaa-Khem starts as a creek near the Mongolian border and flows north into the Sayan Mountains of Southern Siberia. The Siberian region of Russia has more untamed wilderness rivers than anywhere else in the world and there are several rivers that would make this list (Katun, Bashkaus, Chuya, and Akishma), but they’re logistically challenging for Westerners. ( Buy Vlad’s book Rivers of an Unknown Land about rafting in Siberia to learn more )
13. Zambezi River (Zambia and Zimbabwe)
The famous whitewater section of the Zambezi River starts below Victoria falls and flows through the Bakota Gorge. This trip is normally done as a day trip, but can also be extended to a world class multi-day river trip through the entire gorge. Learn more about the Zambezi River.
The Minus Rapids in the Bakota Gorge on the Zambezi River | Photo by Sam Swanson
What is the most dangerous whitewater rafting in the world?
Whitewater rafting is literally one of the most exhilarating extreme sports I’ve ever participated in. I’m a frequent rock climber and skydiver, but there’s something about the whitewater rapids that gets my adrenaline churning.
Maybe it’s the gushing whitewater, majestic panoramic views, or the thrill of the rapid waiting just around the river bend. So I’ve compiled this list of the top 10 most dangerous whitewater rafting locations in the world, which wasn’t easy since there’s at least one “dangerous” rapid or river in every corner of the world.
I narrowed down this list to the places that are extremely dangerous but not secluded. Unfortunately, this meant removing famous rivers like the Ganga River in Rishikesh (India) – a famous sport for worldwide whitewater rafting competitions.
There are six classes of whitewater difficulty or “danger” – class 1 to class 6. Class 6 is considered a no-go for beginners based on the International Scale of River Difficulty (ISRD). Keep in mind that the Grand Canyon stretch of the Colorado River follows its own difficulty scale from class 1 to class 10.
That’s it for the book-ish info. Now let’s have a look at the rapids!
1. God’s House – Karnali River (Nepal)
|Rapid Difficulty||Class IV – Class V|
|Popular Rafting Locations||Karnali River, Sunkosi River, Tamur River and 13 more!|
|Best Time of the Year||Early October|
|Other Activities||Trekking, Mountaineering, Skydiving, Rock Climbing, Canyoning|
I figured if this list is gonna have rapids called Terminator and whatnot, I should start with an easier name first – The God’s House. You can’t have a successful whitewater rafting trip in Nepal without visiting the Karnali River.
It’s a famous spot for both beginners and experts – with thousands of tourists swarming this beautiful place in Western Nepal in October (the post-monsoon season). The Karnali river flows through a jungle and the Himalayan ranges and has rapids of classes 1 through 5.
God’s House is one of the many rapids on the Karnali River, but this class 5 rapid that goes through the narrowest parts of the river isn’t a place for newbies.
|Flight from the US||$894 – $1,119|
|Hotel Cost||$12 – $200|
2. Ghostrider – Zambezi River (Zambia, Africa)
|Rapid Difficulty||Class III – Class V|
|Popular Rafting Locations||Stairway to Heaven, Gnashing Jaws of Death, Victoria Falls,|
|Best Time of the Year||May to August|
|Other Activities||Canyoning, Rock Climbing, Mountain Biking, Kitesurfing, Scubadiving|
The wilderness of Zambia in East Africa is the second-best whitewater rafting location globally and the best choice for an extreme rafting trip outside the United States.
What separates it from other locations on this list, you ask?
First and foremost, the Zambezi River has one of the most dangerous rapids in the world – the Ghostrider. And it will stare into your eyes from the deep fall.
Second, the Zambezi river has not one but two extreme locations from this list, the second one being the Victoria Falls rapids. Other famous rapids such as Stairway to Heaven, Gnashing Jaws of Death, and Commercial Suicide (class VI rapids) are also in the area.
Third, you don’t have to go too far for other outdoor activities because Zambia’s majestic Zambezi River literally has it all.
|Flight from the US||$1,347 to $1,707|
|Hotel Cost||$49 – $1,163|
3. Terminator – Futaleufú River (Chile)
|Rapid Difficulty||Class IV – Class V|
|Popular Rafting Locations||Puente a Macal, Puente a Puente, Azul a Macal, Río Petrohué (Puerto Varas)|
|Best Time of the Year||December to April|
|Other Activities||Hiking, Trekking, Skiing, Snowboarding, Surfing, Kayaking|
I swear I’m not making up these names! And no, you won’t be greeted by Arnold here.
Futaleufú River in Northern Patagonia (Chile) is infamous among rafters for its three extreme whitewater rafting locations – Puente a Macal, Puente a Puente, and Azul a Macal.
It’s the perfect place for extreme sports enthusiasts because they get to experience 3 at the price of 1. It’s infamous because it’s considered the most challenging commercially run whitewater rafting location, even among the pros.
If that doesn’t satisfy you, try Terminator – the class V and extremely dangerous rapid on the Futaleufú River. Even its “cheat run” on the left river is longer and more challenging than most rapids; just imagine how majestic the real thing would be.
|Flight from the US||$461 – $653|
|Hotel Cost||$40 – $250|
4. Godzilla – Rio Upano River, Ecuador
|Rapid Difficulty||Class II – Class V|
|Popular Rafting Locations||Rio Upano, Río Toachi, Río Mulaute, Río Blanco, Río Napo, Río Misahuallí|
|Best Time of the Year||Late December to Early May|
|Other Activities||Paragliding, Swing Jump, Ziplining, Canoeing, Suspension Bridges|
Okay, this is the last of these weirdly scary names. Ecuador is famous among the rafters worldwide, not just for its various rivers but for the native culture as well. It might just be the thing missing from your next rafting trip.
Ecuador has various popular whitewater locations ranging from classes 3 through 5 that are suitable for beginners and pros alike. Rio Upano River, or the “River of the Sacred Waterfalls,” runs deep in the Andes mountain ranges through jungles and canyons.
And, the infamous “Godzilla” rapid on Rio Upano takes it one step further. With 15-foot waves from both sides and a level V classification, Godzilla is no different from the infamous monster god from the movies. This, too, can shake the experience out of expert rafters.
|Flight from the US||$356 – $1,006|
|Hotel Cost||$33 – $925|
5. Rapida Della Segheria – Noce River (Italy)
|Rapid Difficulty||Class III to Class V|
|Popular Rafting Locations||Sawmill Rapid, Noce River|
|Best Time of the Year||May to October|
|Other Activities||Hiking, Flying (Ziplining), Kayaking, Scubadiving, Skiing, Paragliding|
The Noce River is a must-go location if you’re ever backpacking in Europe. Italy’s Noce River (Il Fiume Noce) is divided into several sections and difficulties.
The top of the river, located in the Brenta Dolomite Mountains near Val di Sole in Northern Italy, is beginner-friendly with only class III rapids. The difficulty rises to class V as you go south and reach the Caldes village.
Further south is where you’ll find the most dangerous whitewater rafting rapid in all of Europe – the Sawmill Rapid (Rapida Della Segheria).
|Flight from the US||$534 – $687|
|Hotel Cost||$22 – $1,017|
6. North Johnstone River, Australia
North Johnstone River
|Rapid Difficulty||Class IV and Class V|
|Popular Rafting Locations||Tully River, Franklin River, Murray River, Barron River, Mitta Mitta River|
|Best Time of the Year||April to June|
|Other Activities||Shark diving, Bungee jumping, Hand gliding, Adventure caving, Skydiving|
The rivers in Australia are well-known in the whitewater rafting world. From over 45 class IV rapids in Queensland’s Tully River to the weirdly tricky rapids of the Murray River such as the Murray Gates, Sharks Tooth, Hole in the Head, Guides Mistake, and many more – Australia has rapids in bulk for you.
But there’s one that is more secluded than any other rapid in the world. The upper half of the 120-mile Johnstone River is only accessible by a helicopter, and is known for its class IV rapids and the oldest rainforests in Australia.
The best part is that it’s only 20 mins away from Cairns – the gateway city to the breathtaking Barrier Reef.
|Flight from the US||$4,330 – $4,966|
|Hotel Cost||$96 – $202|
7. Bidwell – Chilko River & Dipper Creek – Squamish Valley, British Columbia
British Columbia Whitewater Rafting
|Rapid Difficulty||Class III – Class V|
|Popular Rafting Locations||Stikine, Toby Creek, Kicking Horse River, Thompson River, Elaho River, Chilcotin River|
|Best Time of the Year||May to July|
|Other Activities||Ziplining, Bungee Jumping, Kitesurfing, Rock Climbing, Caving|
British Columbia is famous for having the largest collection of commercially-owned class IV rapids in the world. Bidwell, a 14-mile long class IV rapid on the Chilko River, is the longest commercially-owned whitewater rapid in North America. It’ll literally leave you gasping for breath.
Experts treat the Bidwell as the only training run before trying the infamous White Mile, located further down on the Chilko River. In comparison, the Dipper Creek in Squamish Valley isn’t as long as the Bidwell, but its crazy 40-feet drop will leave you holding on to dear life (and raft)!
|Flight from the US||$339 – $716|
|Hotel Cost||$87 – $228|
8. More Rapids Than You Could Go To, United States
Deerfield River, United States
The U.S. is at the end because it’s impossible to choose one or two best rapids from the country. The United States is the best country you could go to for whitewater rafting in the world, thanks to the dozens of world-famous whitewater rapids here.
|Big Drops 2 and 3||Colorado River|
|Lava Falls||Colorado River|
|Pillow Rapid||Gauley River|
|Celestial Falls||White River|
|Bull Sluice||Chattooga River|
|Section Two||Lochsa River|
|Clavey Falls||Tuolumne River|
|Whirlpool Rapids Gorge||Niagra River|
The 8 rapids mentioned above are globally renowned class IV and V rapids that’ll give you the time of your life. US whitewater rafting also has much more to offer than just eight. Refer to my guide on the 10 best white water rafting locations in the US: Beginner to Advanced.
If you’re in the U.S., I suggest trying out any of the top 4 – you won’t regret it.
I got into extreme sports about 20 years ago and am a die-hard adrenaline junkie. Just like in business, I choose my outdoor adventures based on how much they scare me. My goal is to share the lessons I’ve learned over the past couple of decades braving the unknown to encourage you to do the same.
All content cited is derived from their respective sources. If you believe we have used your copyrighted content without permission, send me an email at [email protected] and I’ll remove it immediately.
Elevated Adventurer is your go-to sherpa for all things adventure sports and outdoor exploration. Here you’ll learn everything you need to know about your favorite outdoor sports from rock climbing and scuba to skydiving and extreme sports.
The Largest River In The World
The largest river in the world is either the Amazon River or Nile River, depending on how you measure it. The Nile River is the longest on Earth while the Amazon River discharges the most amount of water per second in the world.
The phrase largest river is actually pretty subjective; it could mean the longest river, which could be the Amazon River or the Nile River. The Earth is about 70% covered in water, and a good portion of that includes rivers and tributaries. To learn all about the largest river in the world, check out this guide.
I think the kind of landscape that you grew up in, it lives with you. I don’t think it’s true of people who’ve grown up in cities so much; you may love a building, but I don’t think that you can love it in the way that you love a tree or a river or the colour of the earth; it’s a different kind of love. – Arundhati Roy
The Largest River In The World: Amazon River?
Rivers are an integral part of society today but were even more important historically. Rivers allowed people to trade to communities that weren’t connected to the ocean, and major cities began popping up around rivers. If you were to look at a map and look at the capitals of countries, as well as major cities, you will notice most of them are located near water. For example, the Mississippi River was not only the boundary between the west and the eastern parts of the newly founded country, it also allowed the states farther north to be able to trade with the southern states. Nowadays, the Mississippi is still an important fixture for trade and it also serves as state boundaries.
Here are some important cities that were built on a river for trade:
- Alexandria, Egypt – Nile River
- Brussels, Belgium – Senne River
- Cairo, Egypt – Nile River
- Delhi, India – Yamuna River
- Jakarta, Indonesia – Liwung River
- Kiev, Ukraine – Dnieper River
- London, England – Thames River
- Moscow, Russia – Moskva River
- Rome, Italy – Tiber River
What Is The World’s Largest River?
You may have noticed above that we said above the “largest” could be either the Amazon or the Nile rivers. These two rivers are truly massive, the Nile is 4,258 miles long and the Amazon is 4,345 miles long. They are very similar in length so there is often a dispute about which river is the longest. If we look at the largest river by discharge, then the Amazon River “wins” that title by discharging 209,000 cubic meters per second.
Here are the top 10 “largest” rivers in the world:
|Top Ten Largest Rivers In The World|
|Name||Miles Long||Discharge (m/s)||Drainage|
|1. Amazon||4,345||209,000||Atlantic Ocean|
|3. Yangtze||3,917||31,900||East China Sea|
|4.Mississippi||3,902||16,200||Gulf of Mexico|
|5. Yenisei||3,445||19,600||Kara Sea|
|7. Ob||3,364||12,800||Gulf of Ob|
|8. Parana||3,030||18,000||Rio de la Plata|
|9. Congo||2,922||41,800||Atlantic Ocean|
|10. Amur||2,763||11,400||Sea of Okhotsk|
What Is The Deal With The Length of the Nile and Amazon?
The debate about which river is the longest has gone on for quite some time. Both rivers are massive and it is quite difficult to measure the length of these two rivers since they are so dang long. Oddly enough scientists have labeled the longest river as an interpretation since no one can actually agree about the lengths of the rivers. In 2001 there was a study done that measured the length of the Nile River at 4,157 miles long and the Amazon River at 4,345 miles long. If you go by that study, then the Amazon is the longest river, but not everyone is on board with that study.
So, with that in mind, most people consider these two massive rivers as tied for the longest river in the world. It honestly just depends on your “interpretation” of the data.
Let’s go over the two largest rivers in the world:
All About The Amazon River
The Amazon River has the largest discharge of any river and is essentially “tied” with the Nile River for being the longest river on Earth. Every year the Amazon floods the rainforest due to heavy rain, and some parts of the Amazon can raise 30 feet from the rain.
Many people make their living off the Amazon River (Images licensed under CC0 via Pixabay)
The Amazon is located primarily in Brazil and its tributaries spread out through other countries (most are major rivers). Surrounding the Amazon is a massive rainforest that is home to thousands of animal species, many of which have yet to be discovered. The source of the river was not clear until a study in 2014 named the Rio Mantaro (a somewhat long river in Peru) as the source of the Amazon. The Amazon Basin, where the river meets the Atlantic, is the largest basin in the world, taking up over 2.5 million square miles of coastline.
|Longest Tributaries of the Amazon River|
|7||Rio Negro||1,400 miles|
|10||Ucayali River||1,200 miles|
The Nile River
The Nile delta and river. Image source: NASA Earth Observatory
The Nile River is oftentimes regarded as the longest river on Earth, but as we mentioned before, that is being disputed.
“The Nile, forever new and old, among the living and the dead, its mighty, mystic stream has rolled.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Nile actually flows north to drain into the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile Basin is massive and connects to 10 different countries. The Nile has 3 major tributaries: the Blue Nile, the Atbara, and finally the White Nile. Historically, and even still to this day, the Nile is a major source of transportation and trade throughout Africa. Growing crops and cultivating along the Nile is (and was) a massive part of living along the river since it provided a water source in the middle of many countries.
|Tributaries of the Nile River|
|1||Atbara River||Blue Nile tributary|
|2||Bahr el Ghazal||High amount of water discharge|
|3||Sobat River||High amount of water discharge|
|5||Blue Nile||Major tributary|
|8||White Nile||Major tributary|
The Nile’s source comes from its different tributaries that connect to this massive river on different points. For instance, the Blue Nile comes from Ethiopia whereas the White Nile joins the Nile in Sudan.
The names of the Blue Nile and White Nile come from the different coloring of the river based on sand and clay. So the Blue Nile is quite literally blue and the White Nile is a whiter color. What do you think about the world’s largest rivers? Which is your favorite?
About Kate Broome PRO INVESTOR
Kate is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a Bachelor’s degree and is currently working on getting her Master’s degree at Southern New Hampshire University. She loves to read and learn about all things space, a fanatic of NASA and the latest space science news. She currently lives in Texas with her two pit bulls, Lennox and Bentley.