Deep in the heart of Katanga Canyon, a crazy African river awaits guests who boldly seek adventure. With raging torrents and an almost guaranteed soaking, the Congo River Rapids is certainly not a gentle glide down a stream! It’s not a question of will you get wet, but how wet?


  • Min. Rider Height: 0.9m
  • Unaccompanied Height: 1.1m
  • Max. Rider Height: None
  • Ride Photography: Yes
  • Fastrack: Yes

Tech Specs

  • Manufacturer: Intamin AG
  • Ride Type: Rapids Ride
  • Builder: Sir Robert McAlpine
  • Opened: 1986
  • Rethemed: 31st March 1992
  • Length: 725m
  • Width of River: 4.9m
  • Volume of Water: 2.5mn litres
  • Number of Rafts: 31
  • Passengers per Raft: 8
  • Capacity: 1800 riders per hour
  • Duration: 6 mins 00 secs

Guests begin their adventure by passing through the entrance arch, past some detailed theming such as an abandoned jeep by the side of a lake. The queue line winds it’s way up and down several slopes, over bridges and past several barrels and a tent. Gradually, guests begin to approach the ride’s station which is situated on a colossal turntable.

Up to 8 riders will be allocated into one boat which can offer some hilarious moments throughout the ride if you’re with friends. Once your boat has reached the end of the turntable, there’s no turning back as the adventure into Katanga Canyon commences.

Gradually, the boat will begin to gain speed, bouncing over the waves as they grow in size and strength. You may feel one or two small splashes intrude into your boat, but that’s far from the worst which is yet to come. These raging torrents will carry you further into Katanga Canyon, eventually escorting you into a dark tunnel.

Thankfully, no nasty surprises will be awaiting your arrival in order to soak you. Instead on a passing occasion, the neighbouring Runaway Mine Train will speed through the tunnel, presenting guests on both riders with the chance to interact. Choo Choo!

After emerging from the tunnel, riders are soon reminded that they are far from the safety of remaining dry as yet more waves will attempt to enter your boat. The entrance footbridge to Katanga Canyon will pass overhead and the on ride photo camera becomes visible to guests. As riders prepare their poses to suggest they’ve survived this journey, a series of hidden waves tend to creep up on unexpecting guests from the left of the canyon!

Once passing by the on ride photo camera, we can almost guarantee an immediate change of mood within each ride boat. Two colossal waterfalls, each pouring thousands of gallons of water line both side of the trough ahead, and they’re dragging you into their path!

If you’re lucky enough to make it through the waterfalls with your clothing and hair still intact, we suggest you don’t pull out the smug look just yet! After emerging from the waterfalls, there are a set of water cannons immediately to the right, which are normally manned by others guests! If you haven’t succumbed to the raging torrents previously, you’re almost certain to receive your dose of drenching here!

With one final turn and several smaller choppy waves [that have enjoyed unexpectedly claiming any remaining dryness of some guests], a large lift hill awaits to escort riders back up to the turntable where the adventure began. After disembarking, guests will head past the on ride photo booth to view the captured moment prior to entering the waterfalls, and will then make their way down the winding exit path to Katanga Cargo. If you’re feeling completely drenched from your adventure on the Congo River Rapids, there are body driers on hand to aid your drying process along quickly.

In 1985, a gigantic construction site appeared before people’s eyes at the Alton Towers theme park. The excavation of thousands of tonnes of dirt, several large sections of rock blasted away and the removal of a car park began to show the huge scale of a brand new ride that would be opening in 1986.

Upon opening, the brand new water ride was known as the ‘Grand Canyon River Rapids’, with the entrance to the ride situated in the old Aqua Land area of the park. Due to this, the majority of the ride’s circuit remained hidden from the plain sight of a guest.

However in 1992, a huge change came to ride and the surrounding area. The addition of the Runaway Mine Train brought with it a brand new area, Katanga Canyon. This saw the ride’s entrance relocated as well as a name change to the ‘Congo River Rapids’. This name was much more appropriate to suit the surrounding African theme that Katanga Canyon brought with it, and the park maps officially listed the Congo River Rapids as a ride situated in this brand new area.

In the mid 2000s, the original red boats that ran on the water ride were replaced with brand new yellow boats. The obvious difference aside from the updated colour scheme was the removal of the head and back rests, allowing the boat to be more intrusive for any water that seeks to claim any dry patches on riders’ clothes.

Following a fatal incident at Drayton Manor in 2017, the Congo River Rapids temporarily closed. When the attraction reopened after this short closure, its waterfalls were now turned off and the water guns that passing guests could use to squirt those riding had been removed, measures believed to have been taken to reduce the likelihood of guests standing up whilst on board.



Take a look at the plans and concept images for the 1992 creation of Katanga Canyon and Gloomy Wood, including the development of the Congo River Rapids.

The Rapids' trench under construction


Constructed over the 1985/86 closed season, the Congo River Rapids required large quantities of rock to be blasted from the site.