Chasing White Waters in Cagayan de Oro

White Water Rafting in CDO

Experiencing the great outdoors of Cagayan de Oro will never be complete if you haven’t tried white water rafting.

In fact, if you are touring around Northern Mindanao, this is a must-do adventure activity that offers a thrilling yet ultimately fun experience even for beginners.

River trekking

CDO’s white water rafting is done in the waters of Cagayan de Oro River or formerly called the Kalambaguasasahan River. Its headwaters are from the Kalatungan Mountain Range and Kitanglad Mountain Range in Bukidnon. Serving as the boundary of Iligan and Bukidnon, as well as Bukidnon and CDO, the river is a 90-kilometer course down Macajalar Bay in CDO. The waters traverse down from the mountain range and pass through Bukidnon’s municipalities namely Talakag, Baungon, and Libon before going down to Macajalar Bay in the province of Misamis Oriental. It also passes through tributary rivers such as Kalawaig River, Tagite River, Bubunaoan River, Tumalaong River, all of which are in CDO.

Before white water rafting became an attraction for tourists in CDO, locals have already been rafting along the river using bamboo trunks and inflated tire tubes as a form of transportation and leisure activity. Eventually, as they discover a potential tourism attraction that with its heart-thumping white-water experience, many travel organizers and professional groups are encouraged to arrange tours and other activities for guests. These organizers underwent rigid training from the Philippine Red Cross, the Department of Health, and the Department of Tourism for health and safety practices.

Conquering rough waters

Beginners can opt for the three-hour river run with 14 rapids
Beginners can opt for the three-hour river run with 14 rapids

But white-water rafting is not designed for the afraid. Although the adventure can be for first-timers and non-swimmers, the activity requires a good sense of discipline, and braveness all while having fun.

From the jump-off point in Barangay Mambuaya, a 30–40-minute ride from the city proper, first-timers can opt to take the river run for beginners—a three-hour rafting experience with over 14 rapids to go through. Advanced rafters can go for the 4-hour long river run which has 24 rapids overall.

Enjoying the calm waters
Enjoying the calm waters

Before embarking on the inflatable raft, instructors give a brief background about the adventure and lays down the dos and don’ts of the activity. For first-timers, instructors are clear on rules that they have to follow their lead, especially when they are already dealing with high white waters. It is important to listen and put their trust on their instructors who are professional and well-trained in the outdoor sport.

Listening, following instructions, and doing what the leader says especially when you are about to tackle big, rough waters are vital for the group’s safety. The instructors will tell you when to pump hard and paddle, when to stop during high-intensity rapids, or when it is time to safely rest or swim in calm waters.

Rafters oftentimes commanded to stop paddling during high-intensity rapids
Rafters oftentimes commanded to stop paddling during high-intensity rapids

While is it normal to face fear when you are about to deal with rough waters, this can be replaced by an exhilarating feeling after passing through each rapid challenge. As the water velocity increases, it is imperative for rafters to match it with double the paddling power for your group to reach a safer and calmer surface before facing another.

In between these white waters are a few minutes of calmness. It is a perfect opportunity to swim, take pictures, explore nearby caves, trek through the riverside, and just observe the wonder of nature in the massive flora and fauna surrounding the Cagayan River.

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