Did I hear that right? I thought to myself when my friend first suggested it. White water rafting in Bali? I suppose it makes sense. They get a lot of rain every year and there are many rivers and waterfalls so why shouldn’t there be white water rafting.
I watched a couple of videos and read a couple of reviews and became convinced it would be good fun and agreed to go with my friend. We signed up for the Telaga Waja River Rafting and Waterfall Tour which included a 2.5-3 hour rafting experience followed a ‘traditional’ buffet lunch and ‘tour’ of the waterfalls including Tukad Cepung Waterfall. The main draw for this tour was the length of the tour (16km) and the 4 metre drop at Bajing Dam which looked pretty cool.
We were picked up at 8 am and chauffeured to the starting point. We were provided with waterproof shoes, life jackets and helmets. Our belongings were taken by our driver who would meet us at the other end of our journey. My selfie stick for my GoPro had broke the previous day so with no other alternative, I clipped it upside down to my safety jacket and hoped for the best. In hindsight I should have clipped it to the safety jacket of my friend since she sat up the front of the raft. In the end it didn’t really matter since it ended up going flat about half way through the trip.
My first sign that this wasn’t going to be my most favourite experience happened as soon as I saw the raft. The raft we were put in was rather old and the only thing that seemed to be holding it together at this point was copious amounts of duct tape. In fact, on at least 3 separate occasions I saw our guide trying to secretly pump up the raft with a hand-held pump he had slipped into his back pack.
The second sign came as I looked from the raft to the river. To put it lightly, the water to rock ratio was not great. On too many occasions to count we became stuck on the rocks on the bottom of the river because it was so shallow and had to ‘jump, jump jump’ to dislodge our boat. Due to this there also wasn’t much ‘rafting’ be be had. Our guide did the vast majority of the work and any paddling that we did was purely for looks. I think we were both expecting to be working much harder than we were.
The final sign came a bit later on when our guide decided that my friend and I were a bit too quiet for his liking. I think they are used to having larger groups who are maybe more loud and talkative than my friend and I. We were much more interested in taking in the scenery, and this coupled with the fact that we had expected to be working pretty hard on the raft (you know, doing rafting stuff) we weren’t very talkative. To try and make it more exciting our guide started uses his paddle to grab our life jackets and pull us backwards off our seats before laughing loudly. I actually really hated this mostly because it was something I wasn’t expecting and sometimes it hurt. I tried to share this but I don’t think he really got it.
The four metre drop was kind of cool and the scenery was beautiful (I mean, most of Bali is stunning so this was to be expected) but to be entirely honest, I was glad when the rafting came to an end. Overall the experience hadn’t been a lot of fun and was actually quite boring. The traditional buffet lunch was quite nice, as was the warm shower provided at the restaurant. In many ways the waterfalls we visited afterwards were actually the high light for me purely because we weren’t rushed by our guide and he gave us tips and tricks to avoid the crowds as much as possible.
This was actually a tricky post to write because I really didn’t enjoy the tour enough for me to feel like I can genuinely recommend but I don’t want to take people’s livelihood away from them. While I never felt particularly unsafe given I have done this before so I knew what to expect and the water wasn’t very deep, the fact that our raft needed to constantly be pumped up throughout the journey and I have my suspicions that my helmet was a bit dodgy, it does make one question the safety of such an activity.
Personally, I don’t think whitewater rafting in Bali is worth it. However, if you are travelling with a larger group and you want to see some nice scenery from vantage point of a river, give it a go, just don’t expect much of an adrenaline rush.