What is Black Water Rafting?

 In Adventures & Travel, Arizona Rafting, Colorado Rafting

Waitomo cave1

Black water rafting isn’t white water rafting through Mordor but it actually is going tubing through caves. There are active rivers running through caverns and in the 1980s, New Zealand cave explorers decided to clamber into the Waitomo Glowworm Caves with inner tubes and revel in the awe of twinkling phosphorescent glowworms on the cave ceilings as they cruised underground.

Black water rafting is cave spelunking meets white water rafting. It’s referred to as black water because, well, you’re in a dark cave and your inner tube is the small raft. Many times, the natural urge to connect tubes together is how it becomes, “rafting.”

At times, rafters peacefully float through as if looking up at a starry night sky but getting there requires some hiking and more heart-pumping thrills. Extreme-sports enthusiasts enjoy the adventure of cave spelunking, rappelling to the rivers, and enjoying the rush of floating through rapids and drops.

Where is Black Water Rafting Available?

Pindul Cave TouristsBlack water rafting tours are only commercially available in New Zealand and Belize. Many of the available tours are at least 3 hours long and a great way to get in your nature therapy. Since journeying through caves can generally be dangerous, it’s always best to go with a guide who knows the cave and river inside out. Often, some parts of the route will require zip-lining down.

The caves where black water rafting are available are usually only accessible through a guide. New Zealand only offers rafting in the Waitomo district and in Belize, the Yucatan caves offer a spiritual look inside the Mayan culture. With the rarity of these cave tubing trips, it’s definitely a unique experience that should not be passed up.

Can I Take Myself Black Water Rafting?

Limestone cave walls in Waitomo Glowworm CaveTaking yourself black water rafting without a guide is not recommended. Getting lost inside a cave is a great way to be lost for a very long time as there are many routes and rooms that lead away from the main path. Guides will provide you with all the essential equipment that you need and be able to help you in case of an emergency. Some of it includes wetsuits, inner tubes, helmets with headlights, water shoes, rope, first aid, and snacks.

Some other things to consider are whether you’re claustrophobic or acrophobic. Some parts of caves are very open with high ceilings but it can easily get narrow and you may be floating on your tube with the ceiling right above your head. Other areas have steep drops where some people jump into or zip-line down. Going black water rafting just might make some of you feel like Lara Croft from Tomb Raider.

If you’re ready for a rafting adventure but not quite sure about doing it in caves or have a fear of heights, good old white water rafting in the open air should suit your itch for adrenaline outdoors. Check out the White Water Rafting Trips & Raft Trip Packages we have available and get your adventure on.

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