The 10 Coolest Rivers in the World

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Written by Kyle Glatz

Updated: June 28, 2023

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Some rivers in the world are long, meandering, and predictable, and others are filled with rapids, home to dangerous animals, and have uncertain sources. This article is about the latter type. Today, we’re taking a closer look at the coolest rivers in the world. While they might be interesting for different reasons, all of these rivers have something that makes them awesome.

Discover the 10 Coolest Rivers in the World

Mississippi River - New Orleans

The Mississippi River may host riverboat gambling trips, but it’s not cool enough for this list.

When we say cool, we’re not talking about temperature but some unique quality that interests people. So, what makes a river cool? That’s a bit subjective because some people might think the deepest river is cool, while others believe the most dangerous is cool. Others might argue that water is just water.

We’re going to provide an overview of 10 different rivers and provide reasons why they might just be the coolest ones in the world. Like we’ve said, there is no real way to measure which river is the coolest, so these rivers are listed rather than ranked.

Without further ado, let’s look at the coolest rivers in the world.

Infographic of 10 Coolest Rivers in the World
These unique rivers from around the world are all fascinating for different reasons.

10. Amazon River

Amazon River with Capybaras

What’s cooler than a river that has no bridges?

Amazon River
LocationSouth America
What Makes It Cool?Length, biodiversity, discharge, and large river basin

This might seem like an obvious answer, but the Amazon River is seriously cool. It’s the second-longest river in the world and has the largest discharge of any river in the world. In fact, this river’s discharge is five times higher than the second-place river, the Congo River.  

This body of water and its tributaries are also home to incredible amounts of biodiversity. Finally, the river has the largest river basin of any river in the world! This river is the definition of cool!

9. River Wharfe     

river wharfe

The “Bolton Strid” portion of the River Wharfe is dangerous in part as there is a series of crevices and tunnels below the water.

River Wharfe
LocationEurope
What Makes It Cool?“The Bolton Strid,” fast-moving waters

The River Wharfe in England is certainly beautiful. It looks like an idyllic place to have a picnic. Yet, there’s also a portion of this river that’ll almost certainly kill a person if they decide to go in. This portion of the river is called the Bolton Strid, and it’s very dangerous for a few reasons.

For one thing, the section where people most frequently fall into the water is only 6 feet wide, so people think they can jump over it. That narrow gap allows the river water to achieve tremendous speeds. Also, the banks on both sides of this are undercut, so if someone goes under the water, they’re likely to be unable to surface while being pounded against rocks.

Finally, below the water is a series of crevices and tunnels. People who go in the water may never be seen again because they’re rapidly flushed into one of them. The River Wharfe and Bolton Strid have been mentioned in the works of Wordsworth and other artists who captured the water’s deadly nature.

8. Colorado River

Grand Canyon National Park - Rafting

The Colorado River flows through the Grand Canyon and is home to the Hoover Dam.

Colorado River
LocationNorth America
What Makes It Cool?Passes through beautiful canyons, including the Grand Canyon

The Colorado River is one of the most beautiful rivers in the entire world. It flows through rugged mountainous areas in Colorado, Arizona, California, and beyond. This river winds through the Grand Canyon and nearly a dozen other national parks.

The views one can obtain on this river are impossible to find elsewhere. Moreover, the Colorado River is home to the Hoover Dam, a marvel of engineering that provides electricity to millions.

7. Congo River

The Congo River is the deepest river in the world and the second-longest river in all of

Africa

.

Congo River
LocationAfrica
What Makes It Cool?Crosses the equator twice, depth, discharge volume

The Congo River (sometimes called the Zaire River) is cool because it’s an amazing all-around river. First off, this is the deepest river in the world, measuring an incredibly 720 feet deep or more! Also, it’s the second-longest river in Africa, and is known for being the largest river to cross the equator twice.

This river also has the second-largest discharge volume of any river in the world! The river flows through some seriously biodiverse areas, including the Congo Rainforest. You can see a lot of neat stuff if you follow this river’s flow.

6. Ganges River

Ganges river

The Ganges River is a holy place that provides water for millions of people.

Ganges River
LocationAsia
What Makes It Cool?A holy place, mythological importance, home to unique animals

The Ganges River is a 1,569-mile river that is cool for many reasons. For one thing, the river and its many tributaries provide water for millions of people across the countries of India and Bangladesh, especially when it runs through cities like New Delhi.

This river is a unique mixture of a holy place, a site of mythological importance and ecological development, and tourist destinations. Unfortunately, the drawback of this river serving so many people is that it is also horribly polluted. Still, we can’t have a list of cool rivers and not have the Ganges.   

5. Nile River

The Nile River flows through Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.

Nile River
LocationAfrica
What Makes It Cool?Length and dangerous creatures

The Nile River is the largest river in the world, and it’s cool for lots of reasons. One of the interesting things about this river is how it flows north from its sources at the White Nile and the Blue Nile, with the river mouth located at the Mediterranean Sea.

The Nile River has a rich history where it provided water and silt for Egypt, allowing that area to develop into a kingdom that was very powerful for centuries. In the modern-day, the Nile is still significant and also just as deadly. The waters are rife with deadly crocodiles, disease-carrying mosquitos, and hippos in the far south.

This river is beautiful, passes through many cities, young and old, and is home to some of the meanest animals on the planet.  

4. Yellow River (Huang He)

The Yellow River is a very long river that drains into the Bohai Sea.

Yellow River
LocationAsia
What Makes It Cool?Length, historical significance, deadly nature

The Yellow River is famous for being a bringer of life and death. The river runs for 3,395 miles, making it one of the longest in the entire world. It has provided water, transport, and rich sediment for agriculture, allowing this part of the world to develop and support millions.

While the river has been important since the days of Ancient China, it has also flooded the surrounding area several times, killing millions of people throughout recorded history. The dichotomy of good and bad makes this river interesting, though perhaps not best described as “cool.”

3. Zambezi River

zambezi river

The Zambezi River is very dangerous due to rapids and large numbers of hippos and crocodiles.

Zambezi River
LocationAfrica
What Makes It Cool?Dangerous waters, waterfalls, dangerous wildlife

The Zambezi River is often described as one of the most dangerous in the world. This river is home to tumultuous rapids and massive numbers of hippos and crocodiles, the former of which can easily turn over small boats and kill people.

As dangerous as this river can be, it’s also beautiful. The Zambezi River feeds Victoria Falls, one of the longest waterfalls in the entire world!

2. Yangtze River

The Yangtze River is known for its natural beauty and length.

Yangtze River
LocationAsia
What Makes It Cool?Three Gorges Dam, length

The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia, measuring just shy of the Amazon’s purported length. Like the Yellow River, this river flows in China and brings water to people across a large swath of the nation.

The Yangtze is one of the coolest rivers because its home to the largest hydroelectric dam in the entire world, the Three Gorges Dam. This dam is a marvel of engineering that provides power to millions. Yet, the river is also beautiful, stretching through picturesque mountain regions and urban areas.  

1. Puerto Princesa River

puerto princesa river

Puerto Princesa is open to guided boat tours, allowing people to see beautiful rock formations.

Puerto Princesa River
LocationAsia
What Makes It Cool?The longest subterranean navigable river

The Puerto Princesa River is a subterranean river, but it flows through a series of navigable caves. The river is open to guided boat tours, allowing people to see beautiful rock formations, many unique reptiles, and other wildlife in the caverns.

It was voted as one of the winners of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in a contest ending in 2011. While it may not be a place everyone wants to visit, it’s certainly cool.

We’ve gone over 10 of the coolest rivers in the world. Some of them are cool for good reasons, and some of them are cool for posing an immense danger to travelers. Either way, everyone will have their concept of what cool means to them and if these rivers meet their criteria.   

Summary of 10 Coolest Rivers in the World

Here’s a recap of 10 of the world’s fascinating rivers that we took a look at.

NumberRiverLocationWhat Makes It Cool
1Puerto Princesa RiverAsiaThe longest subterranean navigable river
2Yangtze RiverAsiaThree Gorges Dam, length
3Zambezi RiverAfricaDangerous waters, waterfalls, dangerous wildlife
4Yellow River (Huang He)AsiaLength, historical significance, deadly nature
5Nile RiverAfricaLength and dangerous creatures
6Ganges RiverAsiaA holy place, mythological importance, home to unique animals
7Congo RiverAfricaCrosses the equator twice, depth, discharge volume
8Colorado RiverNorth AmericaPasses through beautiful canyons, including the Grand Canyon
9River WharfeEurope“The Bolton Strid,” fast-moving waters
10Amazon RiverSouth AmericaLength, biodiversity, discharge, and large river basin


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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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