Kayaking – The World’s Most Dangerous Rapids

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This is a guest post from Brad Chambers of Sealskinz. If you’d like to submit a guest post for YourCampingExpert.com, then please check out our Write For Us post.

Extreme sports are all the rage these days. If you are a kayaker of any level no doubt you’ve imagined yourself battling rocks and rapids down a river somewhere in South America while you’re paddling across the calm harbour in your seaside town. Whether you read this list to fuel your imagination, or to scout out locations to put for your ever going to do list, the rapids presented here are sure to get your spine tingling.

Livingstone Falls

Part of the Congo River in equatorial Africa, Livingston Falls is definitely worth a visit. Named after the legendary explorer David Livingstone, and world famous for its treacherous rapids, Livingstone falls drops an enormous 270 metres over its 350 kilometre course. With a flow rate exceeded only by the Amazon river (which doesn’t have any waterfalls or noteworthy rapids), but a channel width of less than 800m in most places, and less than 300m in some locations, this set of rapids isn’t for the feint hearted.

Yarlung Tsangpo River

This Tibetan river’s stunning beauty masks a deadly heart beneath the ripples. Referred to by many kayaking enthusiasts as the ‘Everest of Rivers’, its notoriously difficult to negotiate contours and conditions make it perilous for even the most seasoned experts. The first attempt to brave the rapids was embarked upon by a Japanese group as recently as 1993, with the group tragically losing one member on the voyage. Many more lives have been claimed on this river since, with the first successful descent of
the upper Tsangpo gorge in 2002.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Housing the tallest sheer cliffs in Colorado, and with some sections of the river itself being completely impassable, Black Canyon is for experts only. The difficult sections of the river are formidable class III-V, while the easier sections are still a mammoth class III-IV. Although the views of the rock formations can be breathtaking, you won’t have much time to concentrate on these as you hurtle down this dangerous stretch of white water fighting to stay above water.

Slave River

Slave River, Canada, is a 434km long waterway boasting some of the best white waters in the world. The four sets of rapids (Cassette, Pelican, Rapids of the Drowned, and Mountain Portage) range from Class I for beginners to intermediates, to the impassable and almost universally fatal
Class VI rapids. The islands among the Mountain Portage Rapids are completely off-limits due to the protected river pelican populations inhabiting these islands. It is important to bear this in mind when planning any journey as stiff penalties are in place for any who break the rules.

Niagra Gorge

Niagra Gorge funnels the most powerful current in the world. Because of this, as well as other hazards posed by this legendary 11km stretch of waterway, it is illegal to attempt in a kayak. There have been a few occasions in which expert kayakers were permitted to attempt the Gorge, but for the general public (even for experts) this area is a no go. The gorge begins at the base of the falls and runs 11km downstream, with risky and rugged turns and naturally occurring whirlpools this set of rapids is best left to the professionals.

With our top five rapids across the world there will be plenty to sink your paddle into, and all sorts of rivers to keep you travelling around the world. If you are an expert kayaker you will be salivating over the foamy rapids found along the length of these rivers, so why not get your helmet on and get going?

Brad Chambers created this article for Sealskinz.com, one of the UK’s best online retailers for thermal and waterproof gloves. Brad blogs about extreme sports, travel and can be followed on twitter here.

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