White water rafting is when tourists get on the raft to paddle through the water and rapids. White water comes from the frothing rapids of a guzzling river which make the water appear white. This water rafting as we know it goes back to 1842 when lieutenant john Fremont began exploring Colorado’s Platte River. He with his inventor created a rubber raft featuring four rubber cloth tubes and wrap around floor to help the survey great. This activity became famous in 1950s. It involves each individual paddling 10 feet to 14 feet rafts with double bladed paddles or oars to multi person rafts propelled by single banded paddles that are steered by a person at the stern or by the use of oars.
White water rafting is a recreation outdoor activity in which an inflatable raft is used to navigate the river or any other water body. Risk taking is part of this experience since many people get to deal with different degrees of water rough enough to put their life at a risk. This has made it a very extreme sport while other sectors are not so extreme/difficult. This has made white water rafting get graded in six class which include;
- Class I: these are basics of white water rafting where rafting is done in very small rough areas.
- Class II: this is the second level from level one where there is small rough water and small rocks which just require the paddling skill
- Class III: this requires some experience of rafting with small waves without considerable danger.
- Class IV: this requires an exceptional skill in white water rafting since waves get bigger than those in level three, and there may be a considerable drop
- Class V: this needs full mastery of rafting because there are larger waves, volume and possibility of large rocks and danger.
- Class VI: this is the most dangerous class where the rafters go into rapids to raft, this therefore requires full mastery of rafting and even then, this may not be safe.
These classes of white water rafting depends on the mastery whereby the rafter’s choice is first monitored to see his/ her mastery before going rafting. This is done to minimize life loss especially during these rafts.
Is white water rafting dangerous?
Death is the main danger got during the white water rafting, there are more injuries that are incurred by the rafters when they raft against strong waves and large rocks. However, thousands of people safely enjoy rafting trips and on top of that, it has become safer over years since expertise has increased in the sport with more specialized equipment of good quality example; the use of life jackets which is mandatory for every rafter to wear before going into the sport, carrying certain instruments that help to notify possible help that there has been an accident like whistles, flotation devices etc. Before anybody goes into rafting, he/she is first briefed and trained where at the end, there is a form signed indicating the potential risks associated with rafting.
The dangers associated with white water rafting vary from environmental problems to weather changes that is why it is advisable to go for such trips during the drier seasons.
For environmental problems, certain physical features on rivers make it hard for the rafters like fallen trees, big rocks in the water, high waterfalls and dams.
Weather changes where in case the weather changes abruptly and it starts raining, the rafters will be affected by the strong currents and may not be able to see where they are going.
Equipment used in rafting
Equipment are those materials used during rafting, they vary in types as seen below.
- The rafts themselves are equipment since a rafter cannot go rafting without them. These vary in types, the best rafters are those that are made out of advanced nylon or Kevlar infused plastics which are durable and very easy to repair however most people still use glued rubber because it is cheaper.
- Oars; these are used generally in wider flatter rivers of higher volume to facilitate moving. There are wooden oars and metallic oars (made out of aluminum and carbon)
- Paddles; these are used by rafters in smaller and lower volume rivers where rocks and hazards can damage longer oars. These consist of three main parts namely, single blade, shaft, t-grip.
- Oar locks; this is where oars hem selves are attached as they allow the oar to move back and forth without slipping making it easier for the people using them.
- Thole pins and clips; these are known as oar pins in which a large metal clip attaches to the oar and pins. Such pins and clips are necessary in certain types of rivers especially the class five rivers that require oars to stay in place as such as possible.
- Other equipment includes; a wet suite, helmet, foot wear and life jacket. These re a priority for the person going for rafting since many of these save you from different dangers.
Places in east Africa where white water rafting is done:
In Uganda, river Nile on the Bujagali has provided the best waters for rafting. This has continues to attract a lot of people interested in white water rafting who want to have a chance to raft on one of the longest rivers in the world. This doesn’t cost a lot of money for a person who wants to have a private full day white water rafting, this costs only 505USD, tubing the Nile costs 55USD and a full day white water rafting costs 143.59 USD
In Kenya, as a country, Kenya has a number of rivers where white water rafting is done that is to say: Tana River, Mathioya River, Athi River, rapids camp Sagana and savage wilderness whitewater center. These have provided the best white water experience to a number of tourist at a small cost for example; a full day white water raft costs from 120USD to 350 USD for adults and the youth cost 130USD to 200 USD for a full day.
In Tanzania, the most popular destination here is river Rufiji which gives you rapids of class 3, this presents the unfound beauty of Tanzania.
In Congo, Inga rapids being one of the most deadliest rivers when it comes to water rafting, Congo provides its river as one of the class 6 water rafting rivers and these were branded as the world’s longest and deadliest rapids in the world. However, to those who have the courage have continued to navigate and raft on this river at a very cheap price which is 6883USD