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River Rafting

The perfect mixture of refreshing relaxation and sporting activity: river rafting or white water rafting is very popular in Switzerland.

Being able to cross the idyllic landscapes of the Alps on the Rhine while enjoying the most beautiful views of wild and unspoilt nature makes Switzerland one of the hotspots for popular water sports.

It is not for nothing that rafting is also known as white water rafting, as a portion of wild waves guarantees an extra adrenaline kick on every rafting tour.

For whom is rafting suitable?

Rafting is suitable for anyone who wants to ride down the wild waves of Swiss rivers while enjoying the view of the beautiful surroundings. Rafting is a sporting activity that can be done by children and adults. The minimum age required depends on the river and tour and varies between 6 and 14 years, depending on the level of difficulty and conditions.

The respective spots usually offer different levels of difficulty. This guarantees that the river rafting tour will match the experience of the participants.


Can I take part in a river rafting tour without swimming skills?

It is not necessary to be able to swim. However, there are some offers that require it, as they include more difficult water conditions or rapids. The river rafting by Lütschine, for example, offers river rafting tours of class IV and higher, which are only suitable for good swimmers.

River Rafting Lütschine Outdoor Interlaken
River Rafting Lütschine Outdoor Interlaken

On every river rafting tour in Switzerland, however, a waistcoat is compulsory. In any case, it is important to inform the tour guide about swimming skills and any health problems (back, neck, joints, muscles) so that the trip and safety precautions can be adjusted if necessary. Anyone who meets the age, weight and health requirements can therefore enjoy this exciting experience through Swiss nature.

Statistically speaking, river rafting is one of the safest sports, because even with recreational swimming there are more accidents than with white water river rafting. If you choose a reputable and certified provider and follow the safety rules, which are shown and explained to you at the beginning, river rafting is a safe and breathtaking adventure.

Safety Instructions River Rafting Outdoor Interlaken

Various organisations, such as Safety in Adventures and the Swiss Lifesaving Society (SLRG), regularly monitor and standardise the safety standards of the providers. The safety certification of the provider can be verified by the blue “S”, which stands for certification by SGS and SQS. In addition, the supplier should be a Rega partner.

Safety Instructions River Rafting Outdoor Interlaken
Safety Instructions River Rafting Outdoor Interlaken

How does river rafting work?

In a so-called raft, a relatively large, very stable inflatable boat, you ride wild rivers and cross rapids. A raft can be between 3.6 and 5.8 metres long, carry two to twelve people and is made of very robust rubber fabric.

At the beginning of each tour you get to know your companions and guides. They will explain the safety instructions you need to know for safe whitewater rafting, as well as techniques for holding the paddle, steering and behaviour in the boat. They will also help you to find and put on the right equipment and clothing for your adventure. After the instructions and certain exercises, you will go into the boat and onto the river accompanied by your tour guide.


What happens if I fall out of the boat?

The safety training that you go through before each tour will prepare you well for this case. There are several options available to you if you do fall out of the raft.

One is to stay calm. First of all, you should try to grab the safety rope that is attached to the outside of each raft and get back into the boat with the help of the guide. If this is not possible, stretch your legs, lean on your back and let the waistcoat and the river float you.

Do not try to stand up or swim. There is no danger of sinking because of the waistcoat. One of the guides on the water has the possibility to pull you out of the water.

Of course, there is a minimal chance of getting injured while river rafting. Statistically speaking, however, only 2.1 out of every 100,000 river rafting trips will result in an injury. The safety precautions are very high, so a rafting adventure is an unforgettable and safe experience for the vast majority of participants!

How expensive is river rafting in Switzerland?

The price usually depends on the route, the river and the degree of difficulty. In general, a river rafting tour can cost between 50 and 300 CHF.

Where can I go river rafting in Switzerland?

There are five river rafting hotspots in Switzerland. The most popular place for water sports is Interlaken, which is known for its windy rapids and wild waterways.

The route from Ilanz takes you through the breathtaking nature of the Vorderrhein valley. On this route fast currents alternate with calm water levels, while you can experience the fascination of the “Swiss Grand Canyon”.

In Basel you will find not only white water but also rather calm and leisurely river rafting routes, which are definitely worthwhile. Here you will drift past hidden pebble beaches and natural banks.

A river rafting tour from Scuol in the Engadine is particularly suitable for families. On the Inn, the river flowing through the Engadine valley, all kinds of different tours await you.

For adrenalin junkies, the Vispa, a river in the beautiful Swiss canton of Valais, is the perfect opportunity to cross fast streams and adventurous rapids.

History River Rafting

River rafting is relatively young compared to other sports. Its beginnings can be found in the USA, more precisely in Colorado, and in the USSR around 1950. The sport only gained popularity later in Switzerland, where it was finally introduced in 1980.

Due to its growing popularity, training programmes for river rafting guides and related guidelines were launched ten years later as part of Jugend & Sport (Swiss sports promotion programme for children and young people).

The sport thus became more professional and commercial companies began to form. Finally, the efforts to promote whitewater river rafting led to the foundation of a worldwide umbrella organisation, which also created a certification system for river rafting guides recognised by all.

From then on, Switzerland also worked continuously on the professionalisation of water sports, which included the establishment of guidelines, the founding of new organisations and the introduction of new quality labels.

Switzerland is considered a paradise for river rafting enthusiasts and the sport has become particularly popular as a leisure sport.

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