Lakbay Norte 3 finally goes to Kalinga province to conquer the white water rapids of the Chico River. Already tried river kayaking in Tibiao, Antique … loved it a lot! but it was still my first time to experience white water river rafting.
I’ve heard raves about white water river rafting in the Mindanaoan cities of Cagayan de Oro and Davao. I haven’t tried it yet so I got really excited when I found out we were doing it in Kalinga.
Morning Drive to Tabuk, Kalinga
The long night travel from Nueva Ecija to Tuguegarao City, Cagayan Province afforded us a much awaited uninterrupted sleep. We arrived at our refuge in Tuguegarao, the Las Palmas de San Jose Hotel, at around 5:30am. Freshened up, boarded the jeeps, took a quick breakfast (c/o McDonalds), and continued our journey to Tabuk, the capital town of Kalinga.
Since a trip to the Cordilleras is not complete without “toploading”, we moved our trigger happy asses atop the roof of the jeep. Me and Angel sat at the front most part (above the driver’s seat). I was thinking it would be the best position coz then, we’d have an unobstructed view.
On the plus side, the views were really awesome BUT … our insides where shivering the whole time because the jeep was running very fast and it was really chilly that morning (aside from the fact that we were already in the highlands). Our eyes were also tearing up real bad coz we didn’t bring sunglasses or had any barriers in front of us to break the harsh wind. Poor poor tourists :|
Stopover along the Highway
One particular turn along the highway in Kalinga was met with our loud oohhs and aahhs. We just had to stop to take in the great view of the mountain landscapes. After this point, the beauty of Kalinga really started to take its form.
The beautiful mountain vistas were definitely enough to make me want to go back to Kalinga in the future. Hopefully, in a much slower place next time around.
Preparing for the River Rafting Adventure
Travel time from Tuguegarao City to Tabuk, Kalinga took around an hour and 15 minutes and then roughly the same time from Tabuk to the starting point of our river rafting adventure (in Pasil town). While the tour operator was setting up the rafts, we were also busy taking photos along the riverbanks.
We were briefed on basic safety instructions before stepping into the rafts. They taught us the proper way of holding and maneuvering the paddle, how to position ourselves while on the raft, and what to do (aside from not panicking!) if ever we fall into the rapids.
During the process of dividing us into sub-group, they asked for six people who weren’t afraid of falling off the raft … or rather, who among us were looking forward to falling into the wild rapids.
Me, Ed, Angel, James, Ivan H., and Ivan B. ended up being the brave souls who volunteered. We were assigned to the smallest raft so that we could fully experience the maximum impact of the Chico River’s untamed rapids.
White Water River Rafting, finally!
We started smoothly enough. Getting a feel of handling the paddle and properly maneuvering the raft to the right direction.
I took my point and shoot out (enclosed in a waterproof bag) as we were crossing one of the minor rapids but our guide told me to refrain taking photos because we needed the manpower to steer the boat and because it wasn’t safe.
I did get to take these photos while we were on the calm parts. There were a lot of these “chill” moments where we just sat on the raft or rested on the riverbanks while enjoying the landscapes along the banks of the Chico River.
Getting through the rapids was really exciting! I especially got a “kick” from of the many boulders, drops and ledges.
I didn’t expect that it would be so tiring though. I assumed the current would just naturally drift us downstream … into the occasional rapids and then allow the river to take control. We really did have to paddle our way through the river and since we were on the “extreme” raft, we literally had to chase the really big rapids. It was thrilling and a real good workout :D
The coolest parts were definitely: the adrenaline boost of paddling towards the big currents, the awesome moment of falling into (multi-feet) drops, and the alarming moment of getting pushed into big boulders.
grabbed from Ivan about Town
Got threw off the raft on one of the final major rapids. It was so much fun! Getting back on top for the raft was the hard (and awkward) part :p
On our final stretch, we jumped off the boat and drifted through the “floater’s rapids” up until our pick-up point.
Beautiful Chico River
In addition to the thrill of white water rafting, the scenery was really beautiful … especially the open area (beside the river) where the jeepneys came to pick us up.
Adventures and Expeditions Philippines Inc. (AEPI)
Adress: 29 Burgos St., Tuguegarao City; Contact Person: Anton Carag; Mobile: +63 (917) 5327480; Landline: +63 (78) 8441298