Get close to nature, with the thrilling sport of hydrospeed. This sport involves submerging yourself in turbulent whitewater and swimming with and against strong river currents. Whether you’re after an intense water-based workout, an exciting group activity or a family holiday experience like no other, hydrospeed is the outdoor adventure sport to choose.
This challenging lesser-known board sport involves navigating pools and small drops, rapids, waves and maneuvering around rocks, with the aid of a floating board and flippers. This fantastic sport can be experienced in a variety of different settings, from chilly and challenging Norwegian rivers, to the sub-tropical and sublime waters of Zimbabwe and Zambia’s Zambezi River. Check out our top 5 locations for hydrospeed worldwide…
Alagna Valsesia, Italy
Hydrospeed might not be the first sport that comes to mind when thinking about this Italian alpine village and UNESCO World Heritage Site, world-famous for its ski resort and thrilling off-piste skiing opportunities. However, Alagna Valsesia, 150km from the Italian city of Milan, is a big player in the hydrospeed world. Head down the Sesia River, a rocky course with its waters originating from the Monte Rosa Glacier, to perfect your hydrospeed techniques and take in the stunning scenery of the Sesia Valley.
Boasting a variety of different routes, varying in difficulty as well as the type of hydrospeed experience to be had, the Sesia River offers great half day adventures. Whether you’re looking to tackle the more intermediate level rapids of Balmuccia, take on the narrow and challenging Sesia Gorges or try your hand at some intermediate maneuvering of fast rapids, there’s a stretch of whitewater on this river for all levels!
Queenstown, New Zealand
This popular resort town in the south of New Zealand’s South Island is beloved by visitors from around the globe for its breathtaking scenery and phenomenal adventure sports experiences. Queenstown, located on the shores of the crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, is an amazing place to head to for some perfect hydrospeed experiences.
From Queenstown, head to the nearby Kawarau River, which drains out of Lake Wakatipu, for world-famous rapids and challenging narrow and winding river courses to really put your new-found hydrospeed skills to the test. Known as ‘river boarding’ in New Zealand, and practiced with a body board rather than a hydrospeed float, this sport shares the same course and techniques as traditional hydrospeed. This river features whirlpools, powerful waves and strong currents, with a variety of rapids up to grade 4 (on the beginners’ level stretches) that, coupled with the stunning mountainous surroundings, makes for a highly enjoyable, memorable experience.
Murillo de Gallego, Spain
Running through the north-east of Spain, the Gallego River offers great hydrospeed opportunities for adventurers passing through this beautiful Aragon region of Spain, an area sometimes overlooked by tourists for the more popular holiday destinations on the country’s south coast. However, the Gallego, running through spectacular rugged forest-covered canyons, offers visitors a phenomenal medium difficulty 6km descent through sunny northern Spanish countryside, just south of the Pyrenees.
The Gallego River runs past an abundance of natural beauty, including the Mallos de Riglos – a stunning natural rock formation and popular climbing spot, with the course beginning at the beautiful La Peña Dam area – there’s no end of natural beauty to be seen from the water. Another fantastic part about this 6km course is the great rapids and subsequent adventures that they offer to hydrospeed participants.
The icy waters of the Numedalslågen River await you – try some hydrospeed on its chilly choppy waters that were once the snow covering the Hardangervidda National Park! The Numedalslågen River, one of Norway’s longest rivers, offers plenty of whitewater stretches of different levels to entice hydrospeed enthusiasts of all abilities. A river known for both whitewater sports and for its creation of a lot of hydroelectricity – these two things hint to potential visitors just how powerful this river is, and what lies in store for the hydrospeed lovers that head there.
The Hardangervidda National Park, the largest national park in Norway, located near the Numedalslågen River, is stunning mountainous terrain to traverse and is great for hiking, climbing and cycling. For a cool, cold but invigorating hydrospeed session, this area is the perfect place to head. Boasting a sub-alpine climate – grab your float and jump into those cold, refreshing waters, following your instructor… maybe you’ll even get to experience the stretch known as ‘Little Zambezi,’ after the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe and Zambia, a destination infamous for its whitewater.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
As previously mentioned, in reference to the Numedalslågen River’s nickname, the Zambezi River, on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, is the unofficial king of whitewater, known worldwide for its stunning surroundings, choppy waters and the incredible Victoria Falls – the world’s largest waterfall. Known as ‘river boarding’ in this region, alike New Zealand, this slight variant of hydrospeed follows the same whitewater courses, with the only difference being the float which is slightly different to the one used in traditional hydrospeed – however the whitewater swimming, propelling, maneuvering and thrills remain the same!
The Zambezi River offers year round river boarding experiences, and a bucketlist opportunity to feel the force of this infamous river, from its waters rather than on them. A river known for its whitewater rafting, river boarding here is a lesser-known way to feel the same thrills but from the waves themselves!
Learn more about this thrilling whitewater sport by checking out our complete guide to hydrospeed.
Have a read of our whitewater articles, for information about other whitewater activities such as rafting and canoeing.
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