8 April, 2021 | Reccy Guide
The natural diversity in the Chamonix Valley offers visitors endless options to discover the wonders of the region, beyond mountaineering. So rather than standing on top of snow-capped summits, get carried through the rushing waters of the local rivers by embarking on an adventure of rafting in Chamonix. Whether it’s in the Arve, the Giffre on the Dora Baltea, you can be sure that rafting will get your blood pumping!
What is rafting?
Rafting, or whitewater rafting, is a popular adventure sport around the world, and especially in mountainous areas where waters are rough enough to carry the raft. Seated in a multi-person raft, you will speed through the gushing waters making sure to work with your team to stay afloat. The intensity of rafting can vary greatly, from soft waters to sections that can be very difficult to manage. It’s often considered an extreme sport but is safe as long as you are with a licensed monitor and tour company.
Rafting in Chamonix
Rafting can be enjoyed by all adrenaline-seekers who know how to swim and feel confident around rushing waters. Children are welcome above a certain age – this depends on tour companies but is often around the 8 years old mark. This makes it a great adventure for families or groups of friends, as it can be enjoyed as a common activity; but the required teamwork also makes it a great option to meet other like-minded travelers or locals if you are traveling solo!
Rafting in Chamonix
During the summer season, the rivers around Chamonix transform into one of the best rafting playgrounds in the region. The cool waters of the Mont Blanc valley will be a much welcome refreshment from the scorching sun and the activity is very popular with adventurers. De par its mountainous surroundings, Chamonix offers several options and levels of difficulty to go rafting.
Taking its source from the Mont Blanc, the Arve is a powerful river offering several rafting routes. The route from Passy to Sallanches, only 20 minutes away from Chamonix, is a 7km long route and is great for a first-time rafting. The routes closer to Chamonix on the other hand, are known for their incredible setting amid the Aiguilles de Chamonix’s peaks.
Located an hour away from Chamonix, in Samoens, the narrow gorges of the Griffe are a great option for beginners. It will also offer incredible views over the local Valley – if you have the time to take your eyes off the water coming at you!
Starting in Thonon-les-Bains, an hour and a half away from Chamonix, the Dranse descent is ideal for all levels. Monitors will be able to help you select which route is best for your level and group, whether it’s for beginners or avid rafting enthusiasts.
The Dora Baltea
Known all around Europe as one of the most sportive rivers of the continent, the Dora Baltea is located in Italy and will not disappoint if you are looking for thrills. This option is reserved for those with some experience in rafting.
Whitewaters around Chamonix
What will the excursion look like?
Your tour will start by driving from Chamonix to the start of the descent, for which most tours will offer a shuttle. Once arrived, you will meet the rest of your rafting team members and have a briefing from your monitor. He/she will go through the security and safety measures and tell you more about the current conditions on the water. If you have any questions, this is the time to ask. Don’t hesitate, as being confident in the water is essential to being safe – and having fun! After the descent, the shuttle might bring you back directly to Chamonix – or you can take the time to have a picnic next to the river and relax from the excitement of the day.
While most visitors associate the Chamonix Valley to climbing, do not think that this is all the region has to offer. If you are more of a water person, or just would like to refresh for an afternoon, rafting might be the option for you. And with so many rivers to choose from for all levels and preferences, you can be sure that river rafting in Chamonix will be a hit with all!
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