riding the whitewater

tired of walking endlessy inside malls? not getting enough kick out of roller coasters and other thrill rides? bored of going to the beach on a Sunday? why don’t you try riding the whitewater! and i know just the place for you here in the Philippines – Cagayan de oro.

riding the rapids of the Cagayan de Oro River is quite a thrilling experience. the entire run is replete with moderate to wild rapids coming in 10 to 15 minute intervals. scream in delight as you are tossed on 2-3 foot long waves, bounced and bumped on rocks and boulders, and get dizzy as the power of the churning river makes you feel like you’re in a washing machine. now don’t be afraid. most of the time the raft will stay upright even through the most untamed rapids. in between you could take a dip into the river’s cool waters and just float on your back. think you’re brave enough? you could try jumping into a relatively safe rapid and swim to a boulder in the middle. and if you’re lucky, you might also see monkeys jeering at you along the riverbanks. now don’t stick your tongue out to them or they might throw a banana at you.

i’ve tried out whitewater rafting on the Cagayan de Oro River twice already. let me assure you that it is very much worth it. there is that unmistakable extra beat of the heart if it’s your first time. the tension and the excitement within you builds up from one rapid to the other and you will surely be wanting for more once you’ve tasted your first rapid.

it is uncommon to fall off the raft during a run in the rapids but sometimes you just can’t tell. one time a rogue wave strayed directly into the path of our raft while we were still maneuvering only moments from the starting point causing the raft to pitch wildly off the water! we were caught off guard by this that my cousin and tita went splashing into the raging water back first. hehehe.. . DON’T PANIC! the guides are professionals, plus you have your protective gear on you. and if you were listening during the briefing you’d know what to do in situations like this.

if you’re at the front of the raft you will be at the mercy of the incoming waves plenty of times. watch out. a good many section of the rapids have big waves that roll out over the raft and slam towards you as the raft dips into holes that are created in between waves. the unwary paddler will surely get knocked back into the raft.

other times if your group don’t paddle hard enough you’ll get slammed into the river’s rocky walls, or you’ll get stuck in between large rocks jutting out in the middle of the river. so paddle, paddle, paddle.. .

now don’t go thinking twice about trying this exhilirating ride because of what i’ve told you here. it is all part of the experience and the fun after all.

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Whitewater classification

Whitewater rapids are rated on a scale of one through six, indicating the difficulty of each rapid at “normal” water level. The scale is a subjective one. While rapids are individually classed, rivers are given an overall classification that takes the whole stretch of river into account. As an example, the wilderness section of the Cagayan de Oro River has lots of Class IV rapids, but the overall classification is Class III and III+, indicating that a rafter with strong Class III skills would find the challenges within his/her abilities.

  • Class I – These rapids are small and have slightly fast moving water. There are hardly any dangerous spots and those that are dangerous are easily spotted and avoidable. The risk to swimmers is small and can be corrected by self rescue. In other words there is nothing to worry about in a class I rapid.
  • Class II – With some basic training the obstacles in this class are easily maneuvered around or avoided. The swifter currents of water, channels, and rapids are easily noticed with some forward scouting. Swimmers will probably not get hurt in these rapids. It rarely occurs that someone may need outside assistance to rescue themselves.
  • Class III – Accomplished whitewater skills and/or training are needed for these rapids. Constant changing rapids, harsh currents, large obstacle, and tight channels are prevalent. Larger rapids and currents can be seen but avoided. Risk to swimmers is still minimal and can re rescued by group or individually.
  • Class IV – These large and predictable currents require very strong boating skills. Some large waves, holes, and currents may be unavoidable. Quick thinking and fast skills are a must. Depending on water conditions the risk to swimmers can be high.
  • Class V – Expert only. These rapids put the boater into extreme danger. Large holes, rocks, waves, and currents are violent and all have an added danger. Rapids are longer and much more intense. Swimming is dangerous and not recommended.
  • Class VI – These rapids are unpredictable and may never have been run before. These rapids should only be run by professionals in perfect conditions.

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Notice: This article was published on November 18, 2006 and the content above may be out of date.