Patrice has been teaching with us in Zermatt for 2 winters, and before that taught in other Swiss resorts (including Verbier!). He is from the French speaking part of Switzerland, and also speaks German and English. For the last 13 summers he has been working as a river rafting guide near Geneva, Bern, in the Canton of Vaud, and also here in the Canton of Valais, home of both Zermatt and Verbier.
This summer Patrice is working with ValRafting on some great adventures that range from family days out and an introduction to the river environment, to class 5 rapids for the brave! All these trips can be done as days out from Zermatt or Verbier.
From Zermatt you can take the train to Visp and be collected there to start a day on the Vispa River, rafting on the meltwater from the Zermatt ski area. From Verbier you can access the Dranse River, which flows through the valley. From both resorts, you can also easily access great days out on the mighty Rhone River, which starts at the end of the valley that runs up the centre of our Canton of Valais.
Families can take the “Rhone discovery” trip on rafts, passing the orchards and spectacular mountain scenery of the central Rhone valley. Or Patrice recommends “acqua trekking”, a toned down version of canyoning. In “aqua trekking” you can walk, swim, and jump your way through amazing scenery via deserted mountain gorges.
For the adventurous, you can try “hydrospeed”, a sort of giant kickboard, or mini canoe, depending on which way you look at it. With this, you swim in the river, including through the rapids!
Or there are challenging rapids to be tackled by raft, class 4 to 5. These are found on the Dorabaltea river, just over the border in Italy, where you descend the Aosta Valley. Patrice says you do not need to be an expert at rafting to tackle these, but you do need to be sporty and a good swimmer!
Canyoning and medium sized rapids are also available and make a great team building activity or day out for a group of friends.
Patrice loves his summers of rafting because of the contact with nature. He says there are moments of excitement and white water, counterbalanced by moments of calm where you can appreciate being so close to nature. The scenery is magnificent, just like in the postcards, with the apple, pear and apricot fruit orchards of the central Valais surrounding the river, and snow-capped mountains on either side.
All you need to bring is a swimming costume, and everything else; wetsuits, bootees, safety vests, helmets and so on, is provided. You do need to know how to swim to participate in these river adventures.
The summer river season has already started and the rivers are looking fast and full at the moment! You can participate in these activities right up until mid-September, sometimes even later. But the most popular time is from now until the end of August.