Two rafts float on the Zambezi River near Victoria Falls.

5 Great Places to Go Whitewater Rafting in Africa

There’s more than one way to experience excitement on a safari! Seeing lions on the prowl or a cheetah dashing across the plains are sure to get your blood pumping. But did you know that Africa is also a great destination for the thrilling sport of whitewater rafting?

Keep reading for a few of our favorite places in Africa to go whitewater rafting—river guides and all equipment provided!

a guide and vacationers paddle down a rapid in Jinja Uganda, which offers many active things to do on safari

A raft takes a large drop on the Nile River near Jinja, Uganda.

The Nile, Jinja, Uganda

Located on the shore of Lake Victoria in Uganda, Jinja is affectionately known as the “Adventure Capital of East Africa.” Its location near the source of the Nile makes it an exciting place for whitewater rafting. Here, the Nile is a classic pool-drop river. Powerful rapids intersperse with calm, quiet stretches. Mid-river islands create a multitude of channels of various strengths, enabling your whitewater guide to lead you on a route that suits your level of fearlessness.

Typical whitewater rafting trips around Jinja range from half a day to two days and may include Class 3 to 5 rapids. But milder options also abound.

Highlights of whitewater rafting in Jinja may include:

  • Bujagali Falls, where one major rapid follows another in swift succession
  • Wildwaters Reserve, which protects the unique flora and fauna of the mid-stream islands of the Nile and provides more time for nature-gazing between rough waters—but also features some of the river’s most spectacular rapids
  • The “Nile Special,” an infamous surf wave that beckons professional adventure kayakers from around the world

Paddlers get pushed back as they try to get to a waterfall on the Sagana (Tana) River.

Sagana (Tana) River, Kenya

The Tana River is the longest river in Kenya, and in the Central Highlands, it’s known as the Sagana River. Its rapids run from Classes 2 to 5, with difficulty varying depending on the season.

About a two-hour drive from Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the town of Sagana is the launch point for whitewater adventures here. It’s convenient location makes it ideal for a day visit or a multiday adventure trip.

The Sagana River can be rafted in both the low- and high-water seasons—the course runs about 8 kilometers (5 miles) in the low season and 16 kilometers (10 miles) in the high season.

The Rufiji River runs through the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania.

Rufiji River, Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

The Rufiji (Rufigi) River and its tributaries cover the greatest catchment area in East Africa. Its section in the southern Selous Game Reserve is perfect for beginners and offers a superb method of seeing game, especially during Tanzania‘s dry season between June and October. After the rains, Class 3 rapids provide a challenge for those new to the sport of whitewater rafting and up for adventure.

Whitewater rafters paddle on the Zambezi river downstream from Victoria Falls.

Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zambia & Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls is one of the world’s largest waterfalls, and it produces rapids that live up to its reputation.

Get closer than you can imagine with a whitewater rafting trip that starts in the basin of Victoria Falls and features many Class 5 rapids. These trips are available from August to December, when waters are lower and calmer, and start in both Zambia and Zimbabwe.

As waters rise and become faster, Victoria Falls whitewater rafting trips start about 6 miles downriver. High water rafting is usually available to January–February and June–July, depending on the intensity of the rain. All whitewater rafting stops from around early March to early June for safety.

Just 35 miles downstream from the Victoria Falls at Batoka Gorge, whitewater rafting can be enjoyed year-round. Batoka Gorge is among the world’s top whitewater rafting destinations. It features Class 3 to 5 rapids. The low water season runs from July to January, and the high water season from February to June.

Most travelers opt for a short rafting trip of a couple hours to half a day. But multiday trips from Batoka Gorge to Lake Kariba are also an option.

Whitewater rafting on the Orange River near Hopetown, South Africa.

Orange River, South Africa

The Orange River (also known as the Gariep River and isAngqu) is the longest river in South Africa. Cutting across the northern part of the country in the mountainous desert of the Richtersveld, it is known for its beautiful scenery and an array of rapids suitable for beginning and experienced rafters alike.

Paddle down a section of the river for an afternoon, or take a multi-day trip from the Orange River’s source in the Drakensberg Mountains and westward toward the Atlantic Ocean.

In calmer sections, enjoy views of succulent plants found only in this part of the world and varied wildlife such as klipspringers, baboons, fish eagles, monitor lizards, and many colorful species of egret and heron.

The most exciting rafting conditions are in March and April, when rains in the mountains increase the river’s speed and volume.

Plan Your Safari

When you work with Ujuzi African Travel, we’ll provide you with everything you need for a successful whitewater rafting adventure, from equipment to an experienced river guide.

We’ll also help you select from a variety of other activities to enjoy on safari.

Ready to explore your safari options? Ujuzi can help you plan your trip on both water and land. Contact us to make your travel dreams come true.

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