The main reason why we chose to go to Cagayan de Oro for our next trip is mainly because its biggest attraction, white water rafting.
According to the RaftingAdventurePhilippines website, whitewater rafting in the Philippines started as a hobby of outdoor sports enthusiasts back in 1995 and from then on explored and identified the different channels and rapid levels of the Cagayan river.
Cagayan de Oro City is dubbed as the “adventure capital” in the Philippines. The Cagayan river runs in between the city of Cagayan de Oro (to river left) and Bukidnon (to river right). The name of the city Cagayan comes from the word kagay which means river. To translate, Cagayan de Oro means “river of gold”.
Our day began early at 8am when our tour guides Kagay picked us up from the hotel in a jeepney loaded with our boats on top of its roof:
After that it was a 30-40 minute drive away from city, with a stop at Macahambus Adventure Park to zipline, to the beginning of the course.
There are four course levels in the river – Expert I, Expert II, Advanced and Beginners. The Advanced and Beginners courses are for the non-pros and beginners, while the experts levels are for the more experienced and adventurous.
In my previous trip, we took the advanced course, which was a six hour run through the river, passing through twenty-three rapids, ranging from levels I to IV, the ceiling of most manageable white water rapids.
For this trip, the package is inclusive of a beginners course. Rates and packages vary per rafting organizer. The beginners course runs through fourteen rapids, ranging from levels I to III. The beginners course is included in the twenty-three rapids of the advanced course and takes only about two to three hours.
- Eat something before you go. This is a three hour ride. The advanced course, given that its 6 hours, sometimes has a break for lunch and snacks in the package.
- Wear water proof clothing as getting wet is a guarantee – rash guards and board shorts are the best outfits for this.
- Wear long sleeved clothing and long shorts. You will be under the sun for quite a long time and are bound to get a nasty sun burn if you don’t.
- Wear shoes with straps so it won’t necessarily get lost in the trip.
- Leave cellphones at the hotel, unless you have waterproof pouches (but you won’t be using it anyway).
- Use waterproof cameras. But its okay if you don’t bring one as most tour organizers have official photographers where you can purchase a CD of your pictures at a cheap price.
Once all of us were in our gear, we headed to the waters edge for a briefing with our tour guides for safety while on the tour:
The day was simply perfect for a run along the course as it was breezy. The water levels were also high since it rained in the mountains last night. I thoroughly enjoyed the course along with our guide Clint who regaled us with stories of the river.
During the course you can also take a dip in calmer waters and drink from a fresh spring. Since the sun was out, our tour guide dutifully showered us with water over our heads to prevent us from dehydrating from the sun.
There are also families living in the area with the kids waved at us before resuming their play.
I haven’t been here in five years but there were actually a lot of changes in the course. Some activities on the tour, like the mini cave where you can float through the rapids is now closed due to falling rocks from the mountains, and the graduation rock has been damaged due to the floods from Typhoon Sendong. Bridges that help the people of Bukidnon cross have also been damaged in the typhoon.
Its nature at its best and we were just awestruck with its beauty.
Some tips during the trip:
- Always listen to your guide for instructions if you want to prevent falling into the water.
- Take the time during the calmer parts to take in the sights.
- Paddle, paddle, paddle!
- Don’t forget to shout High Five and raise your paddles at the end of a rapid.
- Don’t panic.
Three hours later, we survived the trip with happy smiles, ready to conquer the advanced course on our next trip: