Brave the rapids, topple the raft over, splash into the cold river and experience the fun of white water rafting in Cagayan De Oro City or CDO. This is the most popular and most promoted activity in CDO to date.
First, what’s white water? It’s what happens in a rapid when there is a steep slope in the river disturbing the natural water flow creating an unstable current which makes the water appear frothy, bubbly and white.
White water is also used as an adjective to describe an activity like white water canoeing or white water kayaking.
For the CDO white water rafting, there are two courses to choose from. Beginners or basic course and advanced. For the basic course, the adventure will run for three hours, rafting 13km of Cagayan De Oro River and this will let you experience 14 major rapids. For the advanced course, the tourist can expect four to five hours of fun rafting 19km of CDO River with 22 major, minor and bonus rapids.
The adventure starts with the trip from CDO to Talakag Municipality in the nearby province Bukidnon. The advanced course for the river rafting begins in Talakag Municipality but for the basic course, it’s in CDO. The transportation’s provided by The Red Rafts going to Talakag, this is the company that sponsored the travel show I host “I LOVE PINAS” so this activity can be featured on TV.
The place we went to had changing rooms and a store where you can buy the following:
warmer with gloves Php80
Participants are given a brief orientation of how to use the paddle and other safety instructions. Life vests and helmets are musts for safety.
I highly recommend you use sunblock on your face, neck, arms and legs — basically, any body part that can be exposed to the sun. You can also use arm warmers. Otherwise, expect major sunburn that can hurt for days. Avoid baking under the sun.
The extra clothes, gadgets and other belongings were placed in an orange bag the river guides sealed to keep them from getting wet. If you have cameras and you’re worried you might not get photos taken, you can make arrangements with The Red Rafts for them to take pictures. They have cameramen strategically positioned to take pictures of the tourists.
Each adventurer has to help in paddling. When you see the rapids coming, the raft moves faster, with water splashing everywhere. The guide shouts, “Lock your feet!”
And when you go downslope the rapids, it’s like an instant free fall.
I felt my body being pushed to different places so hold tight and secure yourself. One of the rapids was high enough which made our descent’s impact so great that our raft was submerged for a couple of seconds where water was up to my waist.
The rubber boat floated back up and recovered.
I was seated in front and there’s an area inside the raft (the foothold) where I was able to insert my foot –this helped a lot for me not to fall off. The feeling that I’m about to fall off gave me a rush, but I’m sure glad I remained safely inside the rubber boat.
Two of our companions fell off the raft during the rapids. One climbed up, the river guide pulled the other back. Try not to fall off, because there are a lot of rocks. The helmet and the vest can protect you but if you hit rocks you might get scratches on your legs and arms.
Our camerman, Al, was in a kayak with a river guide when he fell off. He’s the one taking videos of the adventure for the travel show. He rolled the camera when he and his guide were in the strategic and safe positions to record videos of me and the staff white water rafting. When it was their turn to move and go through with the rapids, he kept the camera safe in the waterproof orange bag — and that’s when it happened.
In one of the major rapids, they lost balance and Al fell into the water. He said it was like the current was pulling him down. He still held on tightly to the bag with the video camera. The river guide pulled him up back to the kayak.
These are some of the things that happened behind the scenes while filming for I LOVE PINAS.
The CDO River is not all rapids. There are calmer parts where we can still have fun safely. I spoke with the river guide and he gave us a go signal to do several out-of-the-list activities.
We jumped off the boat and one of our friends, Richard, did somersaults.
Pushing each other to fall into the river was also fun, but not too rough.
Plunging into the water wasn’t comfortable at first because it was really cold, but the body adjusts. We didn’t have to swim hard because the vests kept us afloat.
We also did paddle fights, using the paddle to splash water to our friends in the other raft.
We went back up and into the raft, then flipped it over and went back swimming into the river again. The guide consented to this of course. Remember, consult with the river guides first about what you can and can’t do.
There’s an area for a stop over. I brought out my camera from the waterproof orange bag and started taking photos.
This is also the place where tourists can have a short break to stretch the legs and rest about from all the excitement.
SURFING THE RAPIDS
Something else the river guides taught was surfing the rapids. The two in front grabbed the two front boat handles and everyone inside the boat stood and held on to each other, except for the river guides who were paddling. Everything’s okay while we were approaching the rapids. But when things started going faster, we gripped tighter onto each other and braced ourselves as we passed through the rapids. I thought we were going to lose balance. But holding on to each other forming a circle helped a lot. Anyone who might be off balanced will remain in the circle because the persons to his left and right were holding him. It’s amazing how we didn’t fall off.
ROCK TOP JUMPS
There’s a big rock along the river which is part of the experience.
SNAKE WALL (spoiler alert)
The river guide brought us to what he called the snake wall. He said snaked live there. We went really close and we saw a snake through an opening inside the wall. It was creepy. As the guide was explaining the different kinds of snakes there we couldn’t help but visualize and think that these could be crawling inside the wall at that moment. That was when the guide suddenly shouted, “snake!” and threw a rope at one of our companions which made us jumpy and some even screamed because we all thought the rope was a snake. Hahaha. This is a spoiler; so in case you do the white water rafting in CDO, don’t tell your friends about what the guide’s surprise.
After about 5 hours, I was famished. We hopped out of the rafts somewhere in Barangay Lumbia, Cagayan De Oro City. From that point, we walked for about five minutes to Cabula River Resort to have lunch and shower. But little did I know, another fun adventure was waiting for me in Cabula River Resort — the pool zipline. Read about it here.
THE RED RAFTS RATES:
Basic Course: Php700 without lunch / Php900 with lunch
Advanced Course: Php1,000 without lunch / Php1,200 with lunch
THE RED RAFTS
Cagayan De Oro River Tours Corporation
Corrales Avenue (fronting Consuelo’s Steak House), Cagayan De Oro City
Phone: (088) 8577238
Mobile: 0917-8556983 / 0922-8973175
Email: [email protected]
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The Cagayan De Oro experience was part of the shoot I did for the travel show I host “I Love Pinas” aired in the Philippines and abroad. Special thanks to the show’s staff and The Red Rafts’ river guides for helping me take photos.