Friday, January 05, 2007

Iligan: Part 4 - White Water Rafting in Cagayan de Oro

On the LAST day of 2006, me and my wife together with Nick's family had our FIRST white water rafting adventure in Cagayan de Oro. They started offering white water rafting adventure in 1995. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo experienced it in 2003. Now it is our turn. We left Iligan early and by 8:00 AM we were in Plaza Divisoria. Our expert river rafting partner, Kagay, arrived a few minutes later.

Tip: If you are bringing your car, park it where it will not be towed once the Night Cafe starts in Plaza Divisoria. Towing starts around 4pm or 5pm.


It was a 45-minute drive from Plaza Divisoria to our starting point. We passed by Cagayan de Oro - Lumbia Airport and Macahambus Adventure Park. In Macahambus Adventure park you can cross a 154-meter long skybridge, slide down a 120-meter long zipline and go rappelling for 500 PhP per person. The gorge where the skybridge and zipline is located is 170 feet deep. These experience will take around 15 minutes so if you're interested it can be part of your adventure before you start white water rafting. We skipped this offer though and just took pictures here and there.



The final part of the drive to the starting point was on very rough roads. It's not a good idea to bring your beloved vehicle here.


Being new to this kind of adventure, we picked the river run from Mambuaya to Kabula which local rafters call the beginner's course. It is a 12.3 kilometer stretch of Cagayan de Oro River where you will pass 14 river rapids in a span of 3 hours with rapids ranging from Class II to Class III. Experts can try the longer river run which starts more upstream and will cover as many as 25 rapids including Class IV rapids. It will take 6 hours to finish this course.

Here is a short lesson on international river rapids classification taken from

  • Class I - Very relaxing. Gentle, moving water. Very small waves requiring little or no maneuvering.
  • Class II - You may get splashed. Regular waves, easy to see, may reach 3 to 4 feet in height. Avoiding rocks, river bends or other obstacles may require simple maneuvering.
  • Class III - You will get wet! Large, continuous series or sets of waves, some in excess of 6 feet. "Holes" or "hydraulics" may be present, and can be run or avoided. Small drops, ledges or waterfalls may be present. Scouting the rapids is suggested for all but the most experienced of river persons.
  • Class IV - You'll get soaked… like a 9 or 10 on the "fun scale"! Confused and erratic waves or holes. Large obstructions need to be avoided in what are referred to as "must moves". Risk of injury if swimming without benefit of a raft! Very difficult and scouting is required.
  • Class V - Adrenaline junkies only! For most people, class V goes off the "fun" scale and enters the "kinda scary" scale! Very challenging for even the most experienced river persons. High risk of capsize or injury. Limit of navigation and scouting is essential.
  • Class VI - Niagara Falls in a barrel! Virtually non-navigable, or navigable only at particularly favorable river levels.

As with any extreme sport, everybody who will go white water rafting is required to sign a liability waiver before starting.


At the starting point we put on our gear: helmet, life vest, paddle and sunblock.

Tip: don't put sunblock in your forehead because when you perspire, it will go to your eyes.

We placed our cellular phones, cameras, wallets and other valuables in Glad Zip-Lock bags that Chickoy brought. Our spare clothes and bags were left in the jeepney. It was taken to the end point in Kabula to wait for us there. Our Zip-Locked valuables, bottles of drinking water and food were placed on dry bags and loaded to the rafts.

Tip: You can ask your river guide to prepare food for you. In the case of Kagay, it should be arranged a day before so they can buy fresh ingredients to cook. If food arrangements are not made in advance, you can just buy food in McDonalds or Jollibbee located near Plaza Divisoria.




Young kids can join the river rafting. See the little brave kid below that we met at the starting point. The youngest adventurer that our guide remember is a 2-year old child. The oldest was a 75-year old man.


We were then given a short orientation about white water rafting, how to lock your feet in the raft to prevent from falling off when in the rapids, how to maneuver the raft, what to do if you fall in the water, how to rescue someone near the raft using a paddle, how to rescue someone using the lifeline, and how to make our group high-five after crossing the rapids.

This is Team A (Chickoy, Nico, El-el and Nick). They were assisted by two guides.


This is Team B (Lilia, Chester, Corrine and me holding the camera). We were assisted by three guides.


'Eto naman ang red team


We experienced various ways of crossing the rapids. We crossed some head-on, sideways, standing up and with the raft rotating. It was great! Too bad I don't have pics of us in action because the ride in the rapids are rough and there are parts where the raft suddenly dives down steeply and the water hits you directly. You will really get wet so we kept our camera in the dry bag while in the rapids.

Tip: if you want pics while in the rapids, bring your underwater camera gear for waterproofing your camera. You can then place it in the pocket in front of your life vest for easy access. You'll be busy taking pics in rough waters while holding on to your paddle and keeping yourself inside the raft. Good luck and may the force be with you. One option is to set the camera in video mode and record everything while the camera is in your life vest front pocket.



After each crossing, we did a high-five by lifting our paddles over our heads then slapping it hard on the water to make noise and tell everybody that we made it. On the still waters between rapids, you can take a dip then float downstream. The river is pretty deep in the still waters.



Enjoy the scenery. The left river bank is Cagayan de Oro and the right riverbank is already Bukidnon. The boundary is Cagayan de Oro river. You will also see wild cows. Our guide explained that the wild cows are very dangerous. If any of the them are taken, the farmer who owns them becomes "wild" with anger - thus the name "wild cow." See how small we are in our raft as compared to the surrounding landscape. We are at the lower left corner of the picture below.


After an hour and a half of rafting we stopped for lunch.




Then we were off to another hour and a half of white water rafting adventure.


We survived all 14 rapids and by 1:00 PM we already changed to our dry clothes and was on our way back to Plaza Divisoria. The weather was cloudy the whole time we were in the river so we did not have a problem with sunburn. Great weather for a great experience.

Tip: Bring a tent - even a kiddie tent will do. It will be a big help when changing your clothes since there are no changing room anywhere - just the jeepney, wild cows, short grasses and your guides and friends.


We passed by Lim Ket Kai and had binignit (ginataan) and casava cup cake with bukayo filling as merienda before going back to Iligan.



This is definitely not the last river rafting adventure as Chester, Nico and El-el were already asking Nick and Chikoy for another run. A must adventure for anyone visiting Cagayan de Oro. Here is the contact details of the white water rafting team who guided us. Rates are 1,200 PhP per person for the beginner's course but if your group is big, you can ask for a discount. If you will ask them to prepare food for you, it is an additional 200 PhP per person.

#21 Pres. Aguinaldo St. Cagayan de Oro City
Landline: (088) 856-3972
Cell#: 0915-863-5480

Two of our guides will be competing in Korea in mid 2007.
Good luck to you guys!!!


Jay Lagat said...

hello po! wow, ganda ng mga photos. namiss ko lalo ang cagay-an! white river rafting was not really known when i left in '96 and only makahambus cave was famous back then.

divisoria, magsaysay park in particular (in-front of dunkin' donuts) was our favorite hang-out after class in xavier.

they say maganda na ang opol ngayon. have you been there?

thanks po for the posts!

JO said...

wow! ang saya naman!

just blog hopping from pining.

pining said...

Hi Hermie! Nakakainggit naman ang adventures nyong mag-anak.. lalo na ngayong miserable ang weather dito sa Britanya. I'm missing the Philippines a lot..

RT said...

Hi Hermie,

It looks like a lot of fun, but I'll never be doing it. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy stuff like this, but I would be doing it alone. My wife and her siblings don't do anything that's harder than walking! Heck, my wife won't even go on carnival rides.

Balong said...

wow! 'tsada kaayo da! i hope to be there in 3 yrs time, lo!

tina said...

I have not yet tried the rafting sa CDO. but i think i remember seeing it on TV.

when we were about to go to camiguin. We were supposed to at least try it and drop by. My lil bro chickened out. kaya un. haha. -_-

pictures dont load. ill drop by again and see if it will next time.

chino said...

how cute the pics!!

Sayote Queen said...

Wow! Excellent photos! And what an adventure!

hanne said...

ingit ako. sobra. sana makapag rafting din ako one time

z!Rg said...

I happened to stumble upon this blog because i'm doin a bit of research about the places to visit in CDO. I really really want to go whitewater rafting there!
any suggestions as to what's the best month to go whitewater rafting there? thanks!

Dingexx said...

I do blogging also about cagayan de oro and I done the advance course of the rafting in several times..If you have time and know more about cagayan de oro you can visit it here.Thnx..:-)

rafting cagayan de oro said...

It is indeed whitewater rafting adventure is a unique exhilarating experience. It is also a great way to spend some bonding time with friends and families. An unforgettable adventure!