"DSC_0125" by Jug Jones via Flickr Creative Commons

Some tour operators concentrate only on kayaking or rafting, while other tour operators will offer a range of adventure trips. Sometimes an operator will combine paddling with hiking, rappelling, or mountain biking. Although most rafting tours are day or half day trips, they can last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks.

A tour operator often will provide you top quality gear and raft or kayak, making the hassle of bringing or shipping your own equipment unnecessary. They often provide food, camping gear, lodging, and many other amenities that you should make sure you have in writing before paying for anything. You can join a group or make your own group. Prices are generally based on how many people are in your group. The more people, the less the trip is going to cost. Guides not only lead the way, but are expected to recite their knowledge of local culture, point out wildlife, and show the little known sites that only a local would know.

Whitewater Rafting Tour Operators

Bio Bio Expeditions (http://www.bbxrafting.com, Tel. +800-246-7238)
Asia and the Americas are the focus of Bio Bio’s long list of whitewater destinations.
Boundless Journeys (http://www.boundlessjourneys.com, Tel. +800-941-8010)
Well designed trips, often exploring a particular region, in some of the world’s best whitewater destinations.
Earth River Expeditions (http://www.earthriver.com, Tel. +800-643-2784)
Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Canada, and China are among the exotic destinations on hand for this well-known operator.
Mountain Travel Sobek (http://www.mtsobek.com, Tel. +888-687-6235 )
Highly respected adventure tour operator offers kayaking and rafting excursions around the globe. Choose from their classic trips or build your own.
O.A.R.S. (http://www.oars.com, Tel. + 800-346-6277)
O.A.R.S. offers one of the most complete itineraries of whitewater rafting and kayaking trips among tour operators. They have high quality; well run tours across the United States, Canada, and Fiji.
Lindblad Expeditions (http://www.expeditions.com, Tel. +800-397-3348)
Lindblad offers a variety of paddling trips for different skill levels in locations all over the globe. Luxury and comfort are the focus and other activities may be mixed in.
Rios Tropicales (http://www.riostropicales.com, Tel. +866-722-8273)
Experts on rafting in Costa Rica, this is one of the most respected rafting operators in the world.

Do-It-Yourself Options

Rafting on your own is quite rare as very few people own their own rafts and enough equipment for everyone who will fill it. Tour operators don’t rent rafts either, so if you want to go on your own you are probably leading an expedition or you are the owner of a tour company.

Kayaking is another story. You can attach your kayak to the roof rack on your car and drive off to anywhere there is flowing water, just make sure it is somewhere you can get back to. Many will set off for a few days and bring food and camping gear along. You can also rent kayaks in many places where the sport is practiced, often for multiple days. If you want to fly somewhere and shipping your kayak may be difficult, there are inflatable kayaks that pack neatly into a small box when deflated.

Click here for tips on how to Prepare For Your Whitewater Rafting Trip