Rivers serve as a backdrop for a wide range of recreational and competitive sporting activities. These powerful and compelling natural features also pose a variety of risks, and as a result, organized activities on rivers should be conducted under the guidance of trained operators. While legislation does not require that operators of recreational river activities for which they are paid be formally registered with a professional body, astute clients will require that their chosen operation have some formal qualification or certification that means its guides possess certain competencies and observe a professional ethic. Such competencies are similar to those expected in the general guiding environment, such as group management, first aid, organisational and rescue skills, and then those skills that make them good leaders and enablers of the activity in question. It is still a case of ‘let the buyer beware’, but responsible and reputable operators send their guides on courses, such as those offered by Whitewater Training, and which are recognised by the African Paddling Association (APA).