White Water Rafting down the Ayung River in Ubud – Too much Fun!

This should be illegal – or at least immoral. It is simply too much fun.

I’ve always been a fan of white water rafting – particularly in hot climates. The water in the rivers that have rapids are generally cool, the shade of the canyons welcoming, and of course – it’s a hoot and a half to boot.

There are 3 downsides to taking a white water rafting trip – the price (sigh – always the US$ – even in Bali), the hike down to the river, and the hike back up. But overlooking those 3 issues – this is a total must do if you have the opportunity.

Diana found me a 2 hour rafting trip for a fairly reasonable price – downside – it started early. We had to be at the rafting ‘headquarters’ at 9:00 AM – which meant leaving home at 8:15. Oh how I suffer to have fun.

The name of my rafting group was Sari Profit Rafting – and they were really full service. Their ‘headquarter’s’ had changing rooms, showers, and lockers – I got into my bathing suit, threw everything except my trusty iphone (aka Camera) and my Tilly Hat into the locker and jumped into a 7 passenger van for the quick trip up river to the jumping in point. We were going to be rafting for 1 KM on the Ayung River – described as having 28 Class II and III rapids – and being suitable for ages 5 to 65. Oops – I’m 66 going on 67. Oh well – they didn’t ask my age at headquarters – and I only fessed up after we started the trip.

The starting off point was in a beautiful rice field and a ‘shed’ filled with rafting supplies – tons of floation vests, paddles and helmets. I guess in season they are planning on a lot more rafters – we are just 2 boats of 6. In my boat are 4 friends from Vietnam (total weight of maybe 200 lbs) – a tall thin German fellow – the guide – and yours truly. We suit up and head out – across the rice fields and then into the descent into the gorge. It’s 350 meters pretty much straight down – about 1/2 of the descent is on cement steps, and 1/2 is a scramble over mud steps, tree roots and the occasional rock. Nothing horribly difficult – but enough to slow me down to the point that I’m not the last of my group to arrive – I’m the last of both groups.

Sorry people.

The rafts are already down and full of air – carried down on the heads of Balinese Women – proudly wearing t-shirts that proclaim – ‘Porters’.

At this point our guide is a tad concerned about my ability to do the rafting (66 years old, seriously slow walking down) – and decides to put me on the back right – what is best known as the safety seat – least bouncing, less important for paddling. Who am I to argue – I am 66 – and I am never going to be a strong paddler! My idea of a great rafting trip – grabbing tight to a rope tied securely to the raft and going – “Whee”.

A quick lesson on paddling – in English – which only I can completely understand – (Guide’s English isn’t great – and it’s no one else’s first language!) and we’re off.

He has taught us some key words – Forward, Backwards, BANG (we’re going to hit something – brace yourself), and Stop. That’s enough for our group – I guess we’ll figure anything else out on a ‘Need to Know’ basis.

This is the tail end of rainy season – good news actually. the rapids are at best level II and III – and generally pretty easy. That said – I’m still having a ball as we bounce down the river – hitting rocks that jut out into our path with great abandon. The advantage of rubber rafts – you definitely bounce! One of my fellow passengers quips – these are like the roads of Bali – an observation I must agree with – rubble rapids complete with the occasional pothole! Only major difference, no motor bikes. Instead we get to dodge the occasional other raft full of people!

Our guide takes us to 3 different waterfalls each at least 100 to 200 meters high – and allows us out to swim in the falls before getting everyone back in the boat for another series of rapids.

I opt to stay in the boat – I’m not sure I could get back in if I flung myself out over the side! Certainly not in deep water. So the guide gets out and drags our raft (with me inside) under the water fall. Hey – I need to get the experience – right? Its pummeling – but fun! And wonderfully cooling.

The scenery is outstanding – vertical cliffs tower above us on both sides – interrupted by water falls, rock falls – several other rafting trip starting points – and at one point – a magnificent hotel – the Royal Pita Maya. Oh my – what a magnificant looking place to stay. We wave at the guests as we paddle by on our way to the next set of rapids.

We drift past a huge rock out-cropping that has been carved with images from the story of Rama Sita – featuring among other things – a huge crocodile. This is the only time my camera makes it out of the water proof bag – so enjoy the image below!

At the 1/2 way point – we take a rest at a beach. Ladies with drinks are at the ready to provide sustenance – with a cheerful – no money – no worries – you pay when you get back to headquarters… The best part of the break – a rock out-cropping over a very deep pool. Our guide does a back-flip and roll into the water – and the rest of us gradually get up the nerve to make a least a belly flop into the water. I’m happy just letting my self get caught up in the current, swept down stream a bit – then paddle back and do it again. So much fun – and so totally refreshing!

Eventually we must paddle on. I’ve finally earned the right to sit in front – which is fun too. We play splash the other rafters – race a team down a quieter path – and generally just laugh and have fun.

All good things must end – even rafting trips. So we arrive – get out of our raft – and begin the long hike (only 250 meters as per the guide) back up. How do the rafts get ‘up’ you ask? Balanced on the heads of the female ‘Porters’ who have magically appeared here.

Surprise Surprise – when we reach the top – we’re at Headquarters! No car ride required. That never happened to me before.

Nice Showers, Hot towels, and a free lunch complete the experience.

Oh was that fun.

** Keeping with the ‘find something to appreciate challenge’ – I really appreciate having the health to make it down and back up so I didn’t have to miss doing the White Water Rafting here in Bali.**

Signing off to find something else that is this much fun to do – The Soup Lady