What to expect from a white water experience in Bali -
“Here we go!” I yelled, as my raft was pulled towards a gushing waterfall in the middle of the jungle. My stomach lurched, as it careened off the four-metre drop and landed with a thud. This was the biggest fall of my three-hour rafting trip and a massive rush.
I woke early that day and headed into Ubud for a morning brew. The charming village was just opening its eyes and looking beautiful in the morning light. Cultural restaurants and intricately adorned doors line the streets. Dotted with stone monkey statues and market stalls. I stopped often, to gaze down winding jungle passageways and into countless temples and shrines.
A friendly local then picked me up and we headed to the Telaga Waja River in the Village of Mancun. The drive took around an hour and a half, passing through some stunning rural scenery and forestation.
I was handed a small helmet, lifejacket and paddle. After a quick safety brief at the river mouth, we were ready to set off.
The rapids were a level 3-4 and nothing too extreme – aside from the giant drop. This comes half way down the river, where you will stow the paddles away and hold on tight.
So, I fell into a steady rhythm with the paddle and started to appreciate my incredible surrounds. The clear river was hedged by thick tropical rainforest, separated only by the occasional rice paddy field.
“Boom boom,” the guide called out, as we approached a large boulder at full speed. I held on tight as we crashed into it - getting stuck halfway. With a bit of manoeuvring and jumping, we were able to move on. This characterised the next hour of the trip, as we navigated the river. Dodging countless rocks, rapids and even bamboo bridges – which forced us to lay flat to pass under.
The river was roughly 18km long and about a three-hour trip all up. We hit the halfway mark and stopped at a wide plateau. After grabbing a quick drink, I set off to explore the forests edge. I stopped at the mouth of a large cascading waterfall to get some snaps. Climbing over the slippery outcrop, I made my way to the base of the fall. The water was powerful, so I resigned to the edge. Lying back on a rock and letting it wash over me. After my refreshing shower, I was ready to jump back onto the river.
Not long into it, we rounded a corner and entered a thin hallway of sheer cliffs. I spotted two rafts sandwiched against the far wall. One raft had come in at full speed and wedged itself between boat and rock, causing it to tip. Guides scrambled to separate the boats and someone seemed in trouble. Finally parting them, I saw a woman nursing an injured leg. She lay back in her boat in agony. A nervous looking guide massaged her as I watched on helplessly. Luckily enough, after a few minutes she was fine.
It was less a matter of paddling and more manoeuvring, as the river dragged us along. Throwing the raft through a variety of different intensity and complexity levels of rapids. After the main section was over, we floated into a wide space of deeper water. The guide flashed a cheeky grin and made a flipping motion. As we hit the far wall, the group leant over, flipping the boat upside down. I held my breath and surfaced quickly.
As we neared the end of the river, large storm clouds begun to roll across the sky. I watched in awe as a bruise of colours drifted over the rice fields. We missed the downpour by moments, touching down at the base of a large hill. I then grabbed some well-earned Balinese lunch, a drink and said cheers to yet another incredible experience in this vibrant country.