Whitewater rafting is a fun and exciting activity that is available for kids to seniors. Rivers offer mild waters to rough rapids and can have a high stream flow. This can make moderate rivers move very quickly, so it's important to hire a guide that is knowledgeable.
Your guide will offer tips and suggestions for your rafting trip, but here are some reminders when getting started:
Don't go alone
Even if you are a seasoned whitewater rafter, rafting alone is never a good idea. You might know the waterways, but it is still an unpredictable entity. As a first-timer, have an experienced guide to offer solid tips for rafting safety.
Research the rules and regulations
Depending on state laws or guidelines, eligibility to ride the waters are suitable for a wide variety of people. Contact your rafting company to find out the explicit age limits. In some areas, children as young as four can whitewater raft, while active seniors are welcome as well.
Understand how rough the water is
Whitewater rafting is rated with a class system, Class I to Class VI. Class I to Class III includes mild and moderate waters, while the higher classes are for advanced rafters. These waters are very powerful, with violent rapids that even lead to waterfalls.
Though you are surrounded by water, that doesn't mean you won't become dehydrated. Drink plenty of water and carry extra sports drinks to keep you well hydrated.
Know your strengths
Concern over your overall fitness may play a role in what type of rafting trip you take. Some trips use oar boats, with the guide doing most of the work. On the other hand, a paddle boat uses each person as an active power source. Paddling is strenuous, but your guides will explain and cue you with commands to help maneuver the boat.
Accessories for the ride
Comfortable clothing, a life vest and a helmet are a must. Before arriving to your rafting destination, ask your outfitter for the type of gear you will need. Due to the temperature of the water, your recommendations can be different in each river. Dress according to the water temperature and not the air temperature since you'll be wet. Also, you should be reasonably healthy to fit into your life vest.
If you wear glasses, use a croakie to keep your glasses in place. Also, shoes such as old sneakers are ample for whitewater rafting, while sandals come off easily and offer less protection.
Choose your clothing wisely
Wetsuits are also available, but wetsuits can cause you to overheat if you are not wet for most of the ride. For cooler days, a wet or dry suit is appropriate, as well as a paddle jacket. Synthetic fleece, polypro, capilene or wool items are also good for rafting, but cotton clothing is not a good choice, since it causes you to stay cold. Hypothermia is a serious condition that can take place because of the water temperature, so ask your guide for suggestions on what's needed.
The use of cameras
Although your camera is waterproof, opt for a waterproof, disposable camera instead. These cameras create clear photos, but are not exp
Lisa M. White
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