The Rhône river is a fantastic river for rafting. For our first time on this river, we decided to do a guided trip on the section approximately 10 km upriver from Sierre in Canton Valais, Switzerland. Here the river flows through a protected landscape and provides an adventurous rafting experience with some very fun rapids.Detail Summary
|Location:||Rhône river in Sierre|
Canton Valais, Switzerland
|Train:||Zürich HB -> Sierre – 2 h 20 min|
|Open:||Mid-May to October|
Minimum age: 10
Not suitable for pregnant women.
|Duration:||3 hrs, approx. 1 hour on the water|
|Cost 2021:||Rafting – Savage Rhône, Sierre with SwissRaft Activity|
Guided tour – CHF 115/ Adults, CHF 95 / kids/teens 10-15 years
The Rhône has a fast current and a few challenging rapids that I would not be comfortable doing without a guide. The water is also very cold (7c when we went in August), and wearing a wetsuit (which we don’t own) is necessary.
There are several companies that offer rafting on this section of the Rhône. For our guide, we chose SwissRaft Activity. Their website is in English and French and they offer simple on-line booking. If you have any special requests, you can add them to the booking request. Guides were available in French and English the day we were there. While I really enjoyed rafting this section of the river, were I to do it again, I might try a different company. Our trip went well, but sometimes that was because we had previous experience rafting.
Our guides provided everything we needed for on the river (raft, paddles, life vests, helmets, wetsuits, water shoes, and water jackets.)
When booking the trip, I only received information about the meeting point and payment. But because we have done this type of rafting before, we knew what to pack/bring. For the most part, the essentials are:
- swimsuits to wear under the wetsuits.
- towels. Even if you don’t fall out of your raft, you will get wet!
- a bag to store our dry clothes, shoes, towels and any other personal belongings we had with us. The bag did not need to be waterproof as it didn’t come on the river with us, rather we were able to leave it in a locked shipping container at the rafting base.
- strap for glasses. If you wear glasses, I highly recommend a strap to secure them.
What about a camera?
This is a pretty stretch of river and we really wanted to get some good photos, but knowing this is a reasonably wild stretch of river, we only brought the Go-Pro which we could strap to a helmet.
Getting There and Meeting the Guide
For this trip, we met our guides a their base station at Route du bois de finges 21 Sierre, Valais 3960. The base station was about a 20 minute bus ride from the main train station in Sierre. The base station is not visible from the street as it is squeezed in behind a car dealership and a gas station, but there was a sign out front.
Once we arrived at the base station, payment was checked, safety waivers were signed, and we were outfitted for the trip. We were each provided with a wetsuit, water jacket, and booties to wear along with a life jacket, helmet and paddle. The base station had shipping containers set up as changing rooms where we changed into our swimsuits and squeezed into the wetsuits. There was also a port-o-potty here if you need it. (You will not be able to go while on the river, so best to use it here beforehand.) After changing into our wetsuits, we put our dry clothes, shoes, towels and other personal belongings into our bag and left it in the locked shipping container for later.
With everyone suited up, we climbed into the transport van and drove about 20 minutes to the put-in point. Here the guides went though a brief safety demonstration to make sure we knew where to sit on the raft, how to hold the paddle and what to do if we fell out of the raft. With the safety presentation done, we headed down to the river and into our rafts.
On the River
Our tour group included two rafts, we were in one raft with a guide, and the other raft held a group of 5 along with the lead guide. As soon as we were on the river, we were into the rapids!
About half-way through the trip, we stopped for a brief float down the river. Both the water and the air were cold, so we didn’t spend much time here, but it was fun.
Back on the river we could see that the bad weather predicted for later in the evening was rolling in sooner than expected.
And unfortunately, the weather hit just as we were nearing the take out. Some rain, some small hail, and some lightning and we were paddling fast to get off the river as soon as possible. I don’t have any pictures of this as the rain blurred all the go-pro pictures. And, honestly, we were focused on getting on land.
Off the River
I’m not sure if we used the the normal take out point or one just before the normal one. It was unclear from what the guide said. Either way, there was lightning and we were happy to be off the river. After helping to carry the raft up to the transport vehicle, we took our paddles and walked about 10 minutes back to the base station following our guide. There, we returned our helmets and life vests, retrieved our bag with our dry clothes and changed out of our wetsuits.
SwissRafting Activity provides a small after rafting apéro (light snacks and drinks) in a tent at the base, and we each had a small drink after changing. This was a fun afternoon and I would love to do it again on a day with better weather.