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Newbie's Guide To Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater rafting is an adventure unlike any other. However, there's more to the sport than renting an inflatable raft and grabbing a paddle. If you've never been on a whitewater rafting adventure, there are several things that you need to know before your trip.

Be Prepared to Get Wet

Whitewater rafting isn't an adventure that you want to partake in if you're afraid to get wet. There will be times that water from the rapids will soar over the sides of your inflatable raft, soaking you and everything that you've brought on your trip. So you need to wear clothes and shoes that are designed to get wet. Skip the tennis shoes and jeans. Wear water shoes — also known as river shoes — that will stay on your feet during the trip. Consider wearing a swimming suit or swim trunks during the trip. Just put a T-shirt on to help keep your shoulders from getting burnt. Women can wear shorts over their swimming suit bottoms, but they should be loose fitting so you can move easily and made from a fast-drying material such as nylon. Additionally, any gear you're taking with you should be packed in waterproof bags, and if you're taking a camera, make sure it's a waterproof model.

Listen to Your Guide

Taking a guided whitewater rafting tour gives you the benefit of having someone in your raft that has experience traversing the water in the area. So it's very important that you listen to your guide's commands. Missing one paddle stroke while you're in the middle of navigating a wave could determine whether your inflatable raft barrels through it or gets overturned. Also, when your guide gives the command to "get down," listen. It's for your own safety.

Paddle in Sync

Paddling in sync with the rest of the people on your inflatable raft makes the process a lot easier. If you're in the front of the raft, you need to watch the other paddlers in the front to make sure you all paddle in sync. Anyone who isn't in the front of the raft should follow the lead of those that are.

Bracing Yourself

Before you begin your whitewater rafting trip, you need to learn how to brace yourself while you're in the inflatable raft. You'll need to sit on the outer rim of the boat, because it's easier to balance, and keep your foot tucked under the air tube that's in front of you — or under the foot hold if you're sitting in the front of the raft. Keep in mind, putting your paddle in the water actually helps keep you steady, so as the waves get harder, you need to paddle harder to keep the waves from tossing you out of the inflatable raft.

Whitewater rafting can be a lot of fun if you know what to expect. As long as you keep an open mind and follow all of the rules, your first whitewater rafting trip should end up being a lot of fun.