Whitewater Wishlist: The Top Ten Whitewater Rafting Trips

Chile's Futaleufu and The Sun Kosi in Nepal

The Futaleufu River, Chile
Ask any river runner worth his or her weight in neoprene what is the best whitewater river in South America—or for that matter, the world—and the answer will invariably be the same: Chile's Futaleufu. Described by the brochures as blending the scenery of California's Yosemite with the rapids of the Grand Canyon and water color of the Caribbean, the river crashes through the Andes on its way to the Pacific from Chile's border with Argentina. Its upper Class V+ section has humbled expert paddlers from around the world, while an easier 22-mile lower stretch has exposed others to some of the best paddling on the planet. Futaleufu kayak outfitter Chris Spelius (who moved there from the states after finding this nirvana) simply borrows a line from Barnum and Bailey, calling it simply "The Greatest Whitewater on Earth."

The Sun Kosi, Nepal
David Allardice, owner of New Zealand's Ultimate Descents, knows a good thing when he finds it. That's why the Sun Kosi, meaning "River of Gold," has been the mainstay of his Himalayan commercial rafting operations since he first started running rivers in Nepal in 1984. The 170-mile crown jewel section, which courses through the Mahabharat Lekh mountain range on its way to the Ganges, is easily accessed from Kathmandu, and can be done in six to ten days. Paddlers will find white sand beaches for camping, big water Class III-IV rapids reminiscent of the Grand Canyon, and plenty of monkeys to eagerly listen—and contribute—to your whitewater tales around the campfire.

Eugene Buchanan lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where he has worked as editor and publisher of Paddler magazine since 1992. He is an accomplished freelance writer whose credits include The New York Times and Men's Journal, Outside, Powder, Ski, and Sports Afield magazines.

Published: 20 Jun 2001 | Last Updated: 3 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


park finder
step one
Where are you going?

step one
What do you want to do?

+ More Activities

GEARZILLA: The Gorp Gear Blog

Receive Gear Reviews, Articles & Advice

Preview this newsletter »

Ask Questions