By Dorien Boxhoorn, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The city of Rio de Janeiro has a lot of options when it comes to thrill seeking, from rappelling down high cliffs, to spear fishing and of course plenty of surfing. Outside the city though, one can find adventure near the border of Minas Gerais, two hours driving from Rio de Janeiro city, were the wild Paraibuna river has several rafting outfits operating.

Rafting down the wild rapids of the Paraibuna River, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Rafting down the wild rapids of the Paraibuna River, photo by Rio Turismo Radical.

The part of the Paraibuna River that is usually rafted down is about 25 kilometers long with an equal amount of rapids between Class three and four during the summer and Class two and three during the winter months. The time on the water is usually around three hours.

The Paraibuna river flows past the town of Três Rios, which is past Petrópolis about two hours driving by car. Here the three rivers, Piabanha, Paraibuna and Paraiba meet each other, while they meander their way through the hilly region.

Some say the summer (October to February) is the best time to go rafting, while the rivers are running higher and faster than during winter time. For those looking for a more smooth water rafting experience might prefer the calmer and cooler Brazilian winter months though.

Leo, who wished to remain anonymous, participated in the trip explains: “It was definitely worth overcoming my fear and experience the rapids and waterfalls of the river.”

The Paraibuna River, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, News
The Paraibuna River, photo by Diego Campos/Wikimedia Creative Common License.

The minimum number of people in the boat is six, and it is important to book well ahead to be sure that there is availability. Another tip is to bring extra clothes with because everyone ends up soaking wet after coming face-to-face with the river.

Leo describes: “Some parts of the river are really relaxing where other parts you have to hold your breath and paddle as hard as you can or just hold on tight to the raft.”

There is also the possibility to sign up for the special full moon rafting trips, which take place all year round and provide a special feel to the whole experience of navigating a wild river. On these trips the descent down the river starts after sunset and ends around midnight.

When contacting the organizations that offer rafting trips on the Paraibuna river, prices range from R$100 to R$180, depending on optional lunches or churrascos (Brazilian style barbeques). Transportation to get to Três Rios can be arranged by the tour operators, including hotel or hostel pick up.


  1. Oh my gosh! I really wanted to visit Rio. Nice bits of information by the way and I really appreciate it.

  2. I went rafting on this river in the early 1980’s. We all signed documents releasing the guides from any responsibility for injury or death. No helmets, no oars (a guide did the navigating). We hung on and were terrified. We may have been the first trip for our particular guide and were nearly capsized many many times, going sidewary down falls and every which way. Other rafts navigated the rapids very well which is why I don’t think our guide had any prior training or experience. There were torrential rain in Brazil the year I was there and river was running very very high, with only tree tops showing where there would have been islands in the river. None of us died or even fell out – although a couple of people might have soiled their pants. (someone would have had to saw my arm off for me to let go. We nearly lost our guide when our raft went through tree branches which swept him off (he sat higher on the raft that we did). Those at that end of the raft, dragged him through the water by his feet until they could pull him back on board. You know what? It was terrifying and just fantastic at the same time. I would not trade that incredible experience for a boring vacation. It was just great. Dangerous, yes – but also absolutely unforgettable. I see from the photos safety precautions are in place that were lacking when I went. This is not for the faint of heart; if you’re a daredevil, go for it. It’s a blast! (note that the year I went, others in the raft had been rafting before and said the Snake River paled next to this. I have chills just remembering it. Loved loved loved it.


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