Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Travelogue: CDO Rafting

The last time I was here was more than 10 years ago and even then I fell in love with this city. It wasn't too large nor too small for my taste. And even now even with more traffic it still offers the perfect mix of city and outdoor living. You get many shopping malls, an active night scene but still enjoy fresh air and cool breezes. Just a few minutes commute and you have beaches, rivers, mountains and streams.

During the years Cagayan de Oro City "the City of Golden Friendship" has become a tourist destination. Among it's more popular draws are the longest dual zipline in Asia and the white river rafting. Technically both aren't located in Cagayan de Oro but rather in the adjacent province of Bukidnon but CDO serves as the staging point having the nearest airport.

The white water rafting is a must for those visiting CDO. There are already about 6 rafting organizers that you can contact. During our visit, we made arrangements with Kagay. There are 4 levels of rafting difficulty you can choose from: beginner, advanced, and 2 high level options. They differ in the roughness of the rapids. Even if it is your first time I strongly suggest that you skip the beginner and take the Advanced course.

Kagay offers the Advanced course at P1300/head which includes transportation to and from the river. If you are travelling in a party of less than 6, I suggest you make your reservation in advance and schedule it during the weekends since there has to be a minimum of 6 persons on a raft. The Advanced course consists of 24 rapids along a 16km stretch of the Cagayan River which will take you about 4 hours to complete. For an additional P300 you get an additional guide to serve as a photographer - this is highly recommended because you'll want to have many remembrances of this experience.

Make no mistake, this isn't a sightseeing boat ride. This is an authentic rafting experience and even though every safety precaution is taken, expect the possibility of minor injuries or bruises especially if you fall off the raft, or if your raft capsizes... and expect to get very wet and cold. (Of course it wouldn't be as memorable if no one falls off).

The tour starts with a short briefing on what to do if you fall off the raft, when to paddle and other instructions. 2 guides go with your group on the raft while the photographer (which you really should get) takes a kayak and goes ahead.

This alone makes it work the trip to Cagayan de Oro and it would be a sin not to experience this if you haven't been rafting before. I should know - I fell off the raft and I now know how important "Don't Panic" really is when you're in the water.

PS: for maximum enjoyment go during the rainy season when the river swells and the rapids are larger and the current stronger :)

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