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Home > Adventure, How To, Rafting > International Whitewater Rafting Guidelines

International Whitewater Rafting Guidelines

Whitewater Rafting Guides are usually known for their witty and off-the-wall behavior. They know how to make a trip fun and keep safety rules in check while making sure everyone has a blast. Traveling to a new country and trusting a whitewater rafting guide can sometimes take some research and some tips from your trusty search engine. But never fear! Safety guidelines and general whitewater rules stay the same wherever you are! General rafting language is also kept the same to ensure everyone has a good time no matter the location. Here are a couple of fun ones to remember:

Two people sitting on a raft paddling through waves

📸  @commodoretrevor

1) Paddle High Five

Paddles up = Good job everyone! Group spirit is the best way to have fun on the water. Enjoy each other’s company and having fun make for a great trip down the river. The classic high five involves the whole group raising their paddles (carefully of course) and tapping paddles overhead. After a bumpy ride down the river or pulling up a swimmer a high five is called for at least a dozen times throughout the trip!

Raft tipped over with a swimmer extending their paddle in the air

📸 @H2O Adventures

2) Saving a Swimmer

Possibly one of the most important international rules of rafting is how to pull in a lost swimmer. A swimmer happens when a person goes overboard during some rough waves. If the swimmer is close to the boat, put your paddle down inside the boat, and take hold of their safety vest by the shoulders. Once you have a firm grasp on the vest, pull them in (usually just right on top of you) back into the safety of the boat. If the swimmer is just within reach, extend your paddle (handle first) and pull them towards the boat. If the swimmer is too far out to do either, your guide will throw a safety rope their way. No matter what the circumstance, the guide will always be ready and know what to do. Remembering these key points is a great way to stay alert and have fun while on the water!

3) Waterproof or leave it

Ever go on a trip with someone that thinks they can keep something dry in the raft? If it’s not waterproof or in a waterproof bag just leave it. The guide will usually hold essentials in their drybag, like your sunscreen or sunglasses, but don’t go overboard. Waterproof cameras are the best option for pictures – quick tip: clip the carabiner to your life vest ensures it will stay with you no matter what!

The Ocoee Drybag is the perfect option if taking more items is a must. Perfect for a few pieces of extra clothing, lunch and a first aid kit.

4) Close your mouth!

Sounds easy, right?! Rivers are notorious for holding all kinds of bacteria. Going through some whitewater rapids is a blast and screaming can be fun – but try not to drink too much water! Noone wants a tummy ache after a long day on the water. Traveling to new places can also introduce new bacteria, so have fun, but close your mouth and try and leave the water where you found it.

Kayaker holding a paddle with a beer on it

📸  @downriverequipment + @goodriverbeerco

5) Beer Thirty

May be our favorite universal rules… a cold brew after a whitewater trip! You just worked hard on the water and there’s nothing like a cold one to celebrate the victory of surviving the rapids. Enjoy a beverage with your new (or existing friends) and don’t forget to tip your guide!

What other international rafting tips do you know? Tell us in the comments!

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