Interested in a vacation where one of your destinations is a pool of water that can be reached only by plunging over the edge of a waterfall? And to get there you have to brave mean, nasty and treacherous whitewater rapids. If you answered yes, then you should consider an extreme kayaking adventure. This activity definitely involves an element of risk—but if you observe all safety rules, the reward is an over-the-top, adrenaline-pumping experience.
There are six classifications of whitewater rapids, each with a varying degree of difficulty.
Class I: There are few, if any, waves in these rapids. Traversing these waters is generally safe because there are not many obstacles to negotiate.
Class II: Most experienced rafters find these rapids offer little challenge. Water moves at a moderate pace and the waves are considered small. These waters do have small obstacles, but they are easy to avoid.
Class III: The tempo of the rapids picks up considerably and riders will encounter rocks. Bigger waves will cause the ride to be bumpy and bouncy. Kayakers can expect restricted passageways that can be tricky to navigate. It’s the kind of extreme kayaking adventure that begins to test just how brave you are.
Class IV: Swirling waters cause rides to be tumultuous, and passageways are mostly obstructed. It’s almost impossible to chart the course of these rapids from a kayak. Even the most seasoned paddlers survey the whitewater rapid course from land before shooting down the river.
Class V and Class VI: Now matter how cool and courageous you are, these rapids are not for beginners. That’s because the turbulent waters churn with zero regard for kayaker safety. Add to that jutting rock obstacles and passages so narrow they’re nearly impossible to navigate; only those with years of practice should even consider pushing the limits of these rapids.
Have an Extreme Kayaking Adventure in Three Destinations:
- Section 4—Chattooga River
- Manabezho Falls
- Everglades National Park
Section 4 of the Chattooga River is widely considered one of the top whitewater destinations. The last seven miles of this South Carolina legend are all Class III rapids and wilder. One of the highlights is Deliverance Rock and Raven Chute. This intense portion of the river is undercut with rocks and deep-hole hazards.
Located in the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Manabezho Falls is the biggest waterfall found along the Presque Isle River. The turbulent waters leading up to this wide and spectacular waterfall are filled with deep holes and hidden dangers. Kayakers who brave the strong currents will pass through a 150-foot crest then paddle over a 25-foot drop.
Though the waters in Everglades National Park are not raging, they are still dangerous. Lurking below the less than hospitable swamps are alligators, huge snakes and American crocodiles. Add to that super-sized bugs impervious to swatting and you’re in for an extreme kayaking adventure. Those who venture out will also enjoy the breathtaking beauty of an amazing tropical wetland in South Florida.
If you’re planning an extreme kayaking vacation please keep this in mind: rivers rage, change rapidly and don’t care about what classification they flow under—so be cautious and respect them!