Top Tips for White Water Rafting Activity Holidays
White water rafting is a great family activity in that it offers the element of adrenaline without the very real dangers of something more extreme like skydiving or base jumping. However, that being said, it’s still safety first all the way.
On our French activity holidays in Les Gets that include white water rafting (amongst other things like canyoning, climbing and hydrospeed), our amazing guide Jeremy incorporates his years of experience on the river into his own unique, improvised safety tests. Under supervision, he gets guests to jump off the boats, then shows them how to use the current to swim safely across the river and float on their backs, and he offers a host of other hands-on advice and training.
Aside from Jeremy’s expertise, below are some practical tips that might help you on your first white water rafting experience.
A Challenge Not a Championship
All over the world rapids are graded from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most extreme. For beginners, it’s certainly not advisable to try to take on too much too soon. Our activity holidays in France take in the River Dranse, which is grade 1-3 and suitable for beginners and families. This means there is a mixture of small rapids, lower waves, slow currents and few obstructions – you certainly won’t be hurtling down any vertical drops, Bond-style. Start slow and work your way up to the more challenging rivers is the most important piece of advice you’ll ever get.
Dress for Fun not Fashion
Bikinis, designer sunglasses and inflatable rafts are never a good combination! What you wear for white water rafting needs to be both comfortable and functional. We suggest something like quick drying synthetic shorts and t-shirt, and a pair of water shoes if possible. Heavy clothes are not recommended.
Speaking of which, this is no time to worry about what you look like in a funny helmet and vest. (And, yes, you will look pretty funny, but so will everyone else.) Gear up with all the required equipment and make sure it fits properly. Never remove your lifejacket, and make sure children are aware of the importance of keeping theirs on as well – it’s not simply to keep your head above water should you tip in, it also makes an excellent handle to pull you back into the boat!
It is easy to forget how much sun you’re catching on your shoulders, neck and tops of your legs when you’re constantly wet. But it can be a long day out on the river, so make sure you apply (and reapply) plenty of sunscreen along the way.
Above all, when you’re white water rafting it’s important to fully immerse in the experience – pun definitely intended! You are going to fall in and you are going to get very, very wet – but in truth that’s a huge element of the fun. Wear the right gear, listen to your guide and come equipped with an attitude of fun and adventure and going rafting will be a memorable experience for every member of the family.