White water rafting was something I had always wanted to experience. In our recent Camiguin trip, we tried to spend one day in Cagayan de Oro (since the airport was there) but, unfortunately, we couldn’t find a way to squeeze it in our itinerary so we just let it go and planned to come back to CDO in the future.
When the Poor Traveler found out that white water rafting was part of our Highland Adventure in Davao, I was surprised, pleasantly surprised. I didn’t know rafting was one of the activities the city of Davao had to offer. But we had to wait until the second day for this activity.
The day before, everyone in the group expressed their excitement to finally do this. All of us were rafting virgins (LOL). None of us had tried white water rafting before and none had a clue on what to expect.
On our second day, everyone was up as early as 6am. We had buffet breakfast at Microtel (part of the package) and then prepared our things. At 7:30am, we were all in the van ready to depart for Davao Crocodile Park where the office of Davao Wild Water Adventure is located.
When we arrived, the first thing we did was sign the waivers. Although it’s not really life-threatening because you will be fully equipped, there’s always that risk. (There’s always that risk whatever we do, lol.)
After that, the gearing up began! This is the time to look for and try on the helmets and vests. It is important that they fit perfectly because your life will depend on it. One of my friends actually slammed his head on a boulder accidentally while riding the rapids but he didn’t get hurt because of the helmet.
Important reminder: Bring a cap because the helmets have that weird, unpleasant smell. So if you don’t want that smell to stick to your hair, bring a cap.
Once the fitting was over, the orientation started. They showed thrilling videos — rafts capsizing, tourists bouncing off of the raft into the water, and more. It was scary at first look but in reality, you’d actually WANT to jump off to the water and just let yourself be drifted along by the waves. I’ll explain later.
After the orientation, we climbed into the jeepney that would take us to Davao River. I wasn’t able to estimate how long the travel time was because I was asleep during the drive. Hahaha. When we arrived in the drop off area, there was another orientation. This time, it was more specific and detailed and you would really want to listen. This was the point when we were told to wear the life vests and helmets and taught some basic rafting and drifting skills.
Note: Buddy system is implemented so you will need to find a partner that will be with you throughout the course.
We were then divided into smaller groups on a per raft basis. The usual number of tourists per raft is 4-6 but on our raft, we were only four. Hihi. Each group was led by a “captain,” who would give orders whether to paddle backwards or forwards, slower or harder.
And then, the drill. Before facing the rapids, you will be taught how to paddle, what to do when you get thrown off of the raft, how to pick up someone who gets thrown off of the raft and more. And then it begins.
The water was brown because it rained the night before.
You will find one guy kayaking all around. He’s called the “spotter.” Make sure you smile when you see him because he takes pics and videos most of the time. He also helps pick up people who falls out of the raft.
Many rapids await those who dare but it was really thrilling and enjoyable. Surprisingly, you’ll find yourself longing for more. And many times, your guide will encourage you to get off the boat into the water and be drifted by the current. Although it sounds scary, it was actually GREAAAAT!
Halfway, all rafts will dock at a sandy part of the riverbanks and distribute lunch boxes. Ours were rice, chicken adobo, fish fillet and egg. They will also provide water and orange juice.
After lunch, you will encounter the more challenging rapids. In fact, one raft from our group capsized. It looked fun. LOL. We tried several times to get ours capsized but it didn’t work. However, two members of our group fell out of the raft and were picked up by the raft following us. No, I’m not one of them. LOL. My feet were hooked well onto the raft.
The entire course lasted for 3-4 hours. The funny thing was, during the activity I didn’t feel tired. It wasn’t until we got back at the hotel when we realized we had lost all our energy and our arms, well, we couldn’t feel our arms. Hahaha.
Some Tips You Might Want to Consider
The Photoblogger of FocalGlass.com was one of the bloggers with us on this tour. On his blog post about this experience, he shared some really useful tips. Here they are:
- Don’t bring too many stuff. They may get “donated” to the Davao river
- Wear strap on sandals or shoes for wet occasions, slippers may get lost in the process (or you can have them strapped to the boat)
- Don’t bother using mobile internet or txting, there’s no signal. Live streaming, or tweeting #hulinghabilin #lastwill #deathwish are futile
- Wear long sleeves and hat, (or sunblock). Rafts don’t come with roofs
- Learn to swim, it helps when your in a strong current
- FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS- this could determine your chances in a life and death situation, don’t try to be a “hero”
- When swimming try using butterfly stroke. Freestyle and breast stroke are slow or almost ineffective.
- Learn to breathe properly, inconsistent panicky breathing WILL drown you
– The Photoblogger, FocalGlass.com (Click here to read the rest of his post)
Here’s a video of our group braving the rapids. Video by Yoshke!
Exhausting, yes, but it was all worth it! Don’t just believe me, though. Try it for yourself.