How to Stay Afloat: 6 Beginner River Rafting Tips


Get ready to grab your paddle and head out to the Vaal River to experience the best rapids you can find. If you’re up for the ultimate team challenge, this is the way to make a splash.

First timer? No worries! Here’s all you need to know before you head for the rapids:

1.     Smear on Some Sunscreen

Protecting yourself from the harmful UV rays is probably one of the most important tips when you’re heading out to explore what nature has to offer. Even though it might be overcast in the morning before you head out, the sun might peek out as the day drags on. And even when the rays don’t seem harsh, don’t be fooled.

Your skin can take a beating if you’re out for a full day of rafting. It’s wise to invest in a good waterproof sunblock. Make sure that you keep putting on sunscreen during the day for extra protection, as your muscles should be the only thing feeling the burn – not your skin.


2.     Brace Yourself in the Raft

Unless you’re looking to go for a swim, make sure that you’re planted firmly in the boat. Balance yourself by keeping your front foot tucked lightly under the air tube in front of you, or in the foot hold if you’re in the front of the raft. This will anchor you, but don’t shove your foot in too far, you don’t want it to get stuck if you possibly do fall out.

Your paddle is also an excellent balancing tool when it’s in the water, as it provides an extra bracing point. When the waves get stronger and harder, start paddling harder to help keep your balance and avoid getting tossed into the water.


3.     Get Ready to Go Swimming

Even when you think you’ve reach expert level in taking on the river rapids, you might find yourself in the water from time to time. Don’t worry, it’s all part of the fun. The best thing to do is keep an eye out for your river rafting guide at all times.

They’ll tell you which way to swim if you fall out too far from the raft, before you even reach the rapids. If you manage to take a dip in the water, it’s best to orient yourself as fast as possible, and listen to your guide to steer you to safety.

It is of vital importance to let your guide know beforehand if you cannot swim. When you’re in the water, always keep your feet up to avoid getting trapped by a rock along the river bed.


  1. Gear Up in Your Life Jacket

The first thing you put on and the last thing you take off is your PFD (your personal flotation device). Make sure that you keep your life jacket tightened throughout the trip. The water can loosen your straps, so just give them a tug every once in a while.

5.     Paddle as a Team

River rafting is all about teamwork. When you’re eight people in a raft, you’re definitely not going to get far on your own. The key is to give strong paddle strokes in unison with your team.

It’s the perfect time to paddle on the beat of a song. If you’re not keen on a singalong, you can always follow the leader. Keep an eye on the front rafter’s strokes to stay in sync.

6.     Listen to Your Guide

To ensure the best time while river rafting, always listen and keep a close eye on your guide. They are experienced in taking people on daily excursions, and really have seen it all. Make sure that you and your team stay alert and listen to their commands.

If you miss a paddle stroke in the middle of a rapid, it could mean the difference between staying wet or dry. Your guides want you to experience all the fun and teamwork opportunities river rafting has to offer, so be sure to keep an ear open for instructions during the adventure.

Our qualified guides and specially designed rafts are valued for their safety. There’s nothing to worry about if you’re having second thoughts about taking on the Vaal River. Find out why our river-rafting excursions are the most popular team-building outings we have to offer.

Whether you’re looking for a mini raft package or want to go all out on the 14-kilometre full-day package, let us get you hooked on the thrill of the Vaal.