6 of the Best Whitewater Lodges in the World
These river lodges are destinations in and of themselves, but their proximity to world-class whitewater rafting makes them all the more drool-worthy. Here’s a rundown of six of the best whitewater lodges in the world.
River Lodges Near World-Class Whitewater Rafting
1) Wildwaters Lodge – Nile River, Uganda
You won’t get much closer to full immersion in the whitewater experience (besides sleeping in your boat) than the Wildwaters Lodge. Situated amid a group of forested islands in the middle of the Nile River, this lodge is surrounded by thunderous rapids. No other lodge in the world provides quite the same intimacy with the river.
The Wildwaters’ ten canvas-walled, traditionally-thatched rooms have private decks and interconnecting walkways that allow guests to soak in the ambiance of the Nile. The lodge itself is the centerpiece of a budding conservation project that aims to protect the Nile’s river islands and provide a sustainable industry for the local population. Getting to and from the lodge requires canoes manned by able rivermen and once there, you are completely surrounded by the mist and roar of the immense rapids on the world’s longest river.
2) Adventure Base Camp – Futaleufú River, Chile
This is glamping at its finest. The safari-style tents are nestled along the banks of the aquamarine Futaleufú River in Patagonia. This mighty river has earned a reputation as one of the premier whitewater rivers in the world, serving up some of the rowdiest rapids amid mountain scenery described by locals as “a landscape painted by God.”
The Adventure Base Camp provides plein-aire accommodations to fully immerse yourself in the epic setting, and also serves up some nice perks to help you relax at the end of a rigorous day of paddling. They have a wood-fired hot tub, a yoga deck overlooking the river, sunset bar, and a dining pagoda to eat, drink, and be merry with fellow river-goers.
3) Rios Tropicales – Paucare River, Costa Rica
Here’s the ultimate retreat for adventurers who want it all – thrilling whitewater by day, and eco-luxury by night. The Rios Tropicales lodge is perched on the banks of the world-renowned Pacuare River, in the heart of a 2,000-acre private jungle reserve. The rain-fed waterfalls and the Huacas River Gorge are remarkable highlights of the river, but so are the jaguars that emerge from the rainforest to drink at night, and the howler monkeys that swing in the canopy overhead.
The lodge itself offers Cabecar Indian-style cabanas overlooking the river as well as rustic bunkhouses. The river lodge provides amenities like hot showers and potable water, and a full kitchen, which are all powered by an on-site, sustainable hydro-generator. The sound of tree frogs, cascading water, and bird songs will lull you to sleep in the depths of the Costa Rican jungle.
4) ACE Adventure Resort, Gauley River, United States
This rowdy West Virginia river is home to a raucous whitewater scene that draws rafters and paddlers from all over the world. For those coming from a distance, the ACE Adventure Resort is a perfect base camp. Set on the edge of the New River Gorge National River, the 1,500-acre property boasts multiple lakes, its own waterpark (yes, waterslides!) and several different lodging options.
Though not, “a lodge” per se, the resort’s log cabin offerings are quaint and cozy and there’s a handful of onsite eateries, including one just for slushies. Different cabin sizes are available for groups up to 14. Rafting and lodging packages can be arranged for single day and multi-day rafting trips. The river is most famous for its fall releases, and the ACE will book well in advance, so make reservations early if you’re planning a trip in September or October when the Gauley rafting season is at its peak.
5) River Valley Lodge, Rangitikei River, New Zealand
New Zealand’s North Island has cities, forests, beaches, mountains and rivers. Tucked in the middle of the island is the perfect adventure epicenter, the River Valley Lodge. Offering packages with horseback riding, river rafting and more, the river lodge is tailored to travelers who love the outdoors. With multi-day and full-day trips, the rafting options consistently rank among the world’s best.
This whitewater lodge offers several levels of accommodation, with bunks for the most budget-minded. There’s a spa (with sauna!) and a kitchen that serves healthy farm-to-table fare. In addition to the perfect river setting, there’s giant chess, volleyball and a court for the French game pètanque (similar to bocce). Don’t expect to get bored.
6) Whitewater Lodge Bed & Breakfast, Kicking Horse River, Canada
Golden, British Columbia is an outdoor person’s paradise. From mountain climbing to whitewater rafting, the region is chock-full of recreational opportunities. The Whitewater Lodge is positioned perfectly for those who want to enjoy the region’s primary waterway, the Kicking Horse River. Three raftable sections offer everything from gentle, family-friendly riffles to big drops and Class IV whitewater.
Guests at the Whitewater Lodge can take advantage of the lodge’s “Raft & Stay” packages. For those who really want to cram in time on the river, there’s the option to raft all three river sections and fly back to the lodge in a helicopter. During down time, the lodge offers plenty to do: warm up in the hot tub, play a few games in the game room, or wander the lush gardens.
River lodge photos from top: Wildwaters Lodge, Adventure Base Camp, Rios Tropicales, ACE Adventure Resort, River Valley Lodge, Whitewater Lodge Bed & Breakfast
An earlier version of this article first published 5/4/15. Dylan Silver contributed to the latest version of this post.