Travel Guide Water Rafting

White-Water Rafting in CDO River: Things You Need to Know

Thursday, June 28, 2012Ryan Mach

 If you’re a sucker for outdoor adventure, then a white water rafting in the wild rapids of Cagayan de Oro River should provide the thrill you’re looking for. The river boasts more than 20 rapids that range from easy to difficult, from smooth to turbulent. River rafting is an adrenaline pumping experience but can also be a little dangerous especially when the rapids get extra wild. 

Here are some tips to ensure a safe and fun white-water rafting adventure:
Listen up. There’s an orientation done at the riverside before the rafting tour. You must not skip this part. Granted, you’ll be excited to hit the river after donning your rafting suit but hold your horses, please, and listen to everything the tour guide says because believe me, you don’t want to be rafting like an excited fool. Guides are experienced rafters but they might not be able to save you if you’re hard-headed.
Wear your gears properly. If you want to get off the raft in one piece, then you must wear your gears (helmet and life vest) properly. These gears are provided by the rafting company you availed of and they fit small to large frames so there’s no reason you shouldn’t wear one. The vest will be strapped pretty tight to your body and helmets come in different sizes. Needless to say, these gears are lifesavers. You know, in case you accidentally hit your head with a paddle or fall off the raft and hit your head against the rocks. It helps too if you let one of the guides check your life vest and head gear to make sure you’re wearing them properly. 

No slippers. You’ll be walking barefooted on your way back to the hotel, that’s for sure, if you wear flip flops while white-water rafting. The guides will be checking out your footwear and if they saw you wearing flip flops, they'll ask you to remove them. You still have the right to say ‘Yes to slippers!’ but don’t say we didn’t warn you. You can leave your valuables at the jeepney. They will be taken care of by the driver.

Swimming skills will barely help you. If you fall into the water, that is. Some guides, when they sense that you’re ready for more adventure, will deliberately make you fall off the raft. When this happens, don’t swim. It will be just a waste of energy. You see, the rapids will pull you to its direction so it’s important that you literally go with the flow. Glide through the rapids as calm as you can, although you may find yourself panicking like hell. This is a natural reaction, but you need to pull yourself together. Put your legs up to avoid bumping against the stones. Anyway, when you fall, your life jacket will automatically let you float in approximately 5 seconds - a comforting thought. 
Each raft has two guides and one of them will have your back. They’re trained on how to rescue a fallen rafter. They’ll throw you a rope, grab you by your life vest or jump in the river to join you. You have to offer your back so the guides can pull you up easily. Mimicking a climb to pull yourself up will prove more difficult, both for you and your guides.

Fall or elseThe raft, having to glide through different intensity of rapids, is an inconsistent little thing. It will tumble and fall, toss and drop, whirl and twist – practically all kinds of stunts so the chances of you falling off are high. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Just allow yourself to fall when you're out of balance. You’re likely to get injured when you force yourself in staying inside the raft when you know you're falling. The result - some muscle strain or dislocated bone. 

Push down. When the raft flips, you’ll be trapped underneath it, then it will be a total darkness for a few seconds. Again, don’t panic and bring yourself out by pushing yourself down and pulling yourself up away from the raft. Getting out from under by trying to push the raft over your head is not going to work. The trick is to push down so once the raft has move away from you, you can resurface with nothing to block you.

Don’t bring your camera unless it’s water-proof. Don't worry, you can have your rafting moments captured through the lens by availing the add-on in your tour package. Just focus on your paddling. You'll easily spot the camera man on a kayak. 

Bring something to eat. You’ll be tired, hungry and dehydrated during the 4-hour rafting adventure. There’s no sari-sari store along the way and lunch/early supper will be served after the rafting. I believe you can stuff a box of yummy pastel at the corner of the raft – I’ve seen people from other boats do it. And you may want to choose a rafting company that offers meal package because you’ll surely want to eat after the tiring trip.

Don't wear white shirt. It’ll turn into a muddy piece of clothing at the end of the tour (although that may not be the case during summer months when the water’s clear.) 
Have fun, of course! Guides have some tricks up their sleeves. Don't be a buzz-kill. Follow whatever he says. When he says 'high-five,' raise your paddle and chant. When he tells trivia, listen and respond accordingly. When he tells you to fall, fall. And paddle like crazy.

You can read about my white-water rafting experience here.

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