Beginner’s Guide: Survive Cagayan de Oro’s Whitewater Rafting

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On an ordinary weekday in February 2020, we booked our Cagayan de Oro plane tickets. Departure was the next morning of Saturday, 4:45 a.m. We were late for our flight, so we almost didn’t make it. We arrived 15 minutes after the check-in counters had been locked.

Luckily, we checked in online hours before the flight, which serves as our gate pass — without the need for a tangible boarding pass.

We began our 2 Days Cagayan de Oro– Bukidnon trip with a Whitewater Rafting Adventure and we exhilaratingly completed it last summer with the Kagay Outdoors team. This truly was a “one for the books” experience.

It’s been two (2) months since we had this extreme sport in the “City of Golden Friendship” and I could still visualize how we and the other couple enjoyed this adrenaline-pumping adventure.

Cagayan de Oro River Facts

Shallow Water Cagayan de Oro Whitewater Rafting
In the summer, shallow water reveals more rocks.

We thought you would be also interested to know some information about the Cagayan de Oro river before plunging into the adventure’s specifics, so we put it in.

  • The river’s original name is “Kalambaguasasahan Channel”, owing to the existence of the Lambago trees along the banks of the canal. But when the Spaniards came, they switched it to Cagayan River — meaning “a place with a river“.
  • The Cagayan River acts as the natural border between the cities of Bukidnon and Iligan, and between Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro.
  • The Cagayan River is known to be the longest river in the region and is one of the rivers that drain north of central Mindanao.
  • The Northern Mindanao Mountaineers Society (NORMMS) started whitewater rafting according to Factura. The group only climbed the mountains twice a year, so they had nothing else to do for the rest of the year.

Here’s a beginner’s guide on how to make the best of Cagayan de Oro’s Whitewater Rafting and what every rafter should anticipate.

Booking a Whitewater Rafting Adventure in Cagayan de Oro

Service Vehicle Cagayan de Oro Whitewater Rafting
Service vehicle carrying guests, inflatable raft, and safety gears.

There’s a handful of competing Whitewater Rafting Outfitters in Cagayan de Oro that you can choose from. And a pre-booking is required as a standard policy since there are no offices on-site at the jump-off sites. Typically, the outfitters will pick up their guests at certain locations and take them to the rafting adventure jump-off site.

Personally, we choose Kagay Outdoors for this trip as suggested by a friend. They do have outstanding Tripadvisor ratings. You can contact them through the contact info available on their Facebook account.

In addition, there are other prominent outfitters in Cagayan de Oro, such as Great Whitewater Tours, Red Rafts, and CDO Bugsay River Rafting.

Whitewater Rafting Outfitters, Rates, and Inclusions in Cagayan de Oro

Raft Get Stuck Cagayan de Oro Whitewater Rafting
Our rafting guide has always thought of our safety, particularly when our raft gets stuck on the rocks.

Cagayan de Oro’s local authority has regulated the rafting outfitters’ prices. These operators are offering various packages, variations, inclusions, and promotions so better contact them in advance.

There are three (3) sections where the Whitewater rafting activity can be performed. It varies in the number of rapids, complexity, and rates.

Kagay Outdoors Whitewater Rafting Rates

We picked the Advanced Course consisting of 24 Class III-IV rapids, four (4) hour river runs and was priced at Php 1,800 per person. That rate already includes the following:

  • Rafting Fee
  • Rafting Guide
  • Pick up from City Proper to Jump Off point and vice versa
  • Inflatable Raft
  • Life Vest
  • Helmet
  • Paddle

What to Wear in Whitewater Rafting Adventure

Swimming Time Cagayan de Oro Whitewater Rafting
Wearing of rash guards is a no-brainer. We were allowed to go for a dip and have finished scratch-free.

Well planned outfits will make a huge difference when you’re on a whitewater rafting adventure. You’re going to get soaked and maybe scratched, so it’s necessary to wear the right clothing.

You’ll be grateful that you’re wearing clothes that will dry easily, no matter what the weather. Rafting experts will warn you that cotton fabrics are likely to get wet and stay wet, and it also adds weight. Therefore, it’s a no-brainer to use rash guards. Not only does it shield you from the searing heat of the sun in the summer, but it also protects you from minor injury in case of collisions, particularly rocks.

For footwear, it is essential to wear one that has a strong grip in wet environments. Avoid wearing flip flops, a simple pair of sports sandals (with a heel strap) would do well.

Ironically, one of our companions in this adventure ripped her flip flops when she slipped on the rock. Fortunately, she didn’t have any injuries.

Whitewater Rafting Jump-Off Points in Cagayan de Oro

Briefing at the Jump-off Point Cagayan de Oro Whitewater Rafting
Fundamentals of Whitewater Rafting orientation led by our rafting guide at the jump-off point.

Cagayan de Oro Whitewater Rafting outfitters typically include the transport to the jump-off sites in their rafting packages. The jump-off point varies depending on the chosen package.

Together with another rafting couple, we were taken to the jump-off point near Uguiaban bridge. It was an easy 40-minute jeep ride to the mountainous area of the city, next to us on the jeep was the raft and protective equipment to be used.

At the jump-off site, we were given an orientation on the basics of rafting. Things like the right way to hold the paddle, when to paddle, and important safety precautions, etc.

Things to Bring in Whitewater Rafting Adventure

Rapids Cagayan de Oro Whitewater Rafting
We could have lost any valuables if we carried them in the midst of violent rapids.

When you’re going for a Whitewater Rafting adventure, it’s always advisable not to carry things you don’t need during the activity. Such as wallets, watches, keys, or smartphones in particular.

For Cagayan de Oro Whitewater Rafting adventure, if you really need to carry things, you can leave them to the driver of the service vehicle. If you put it in a dry bag, make sure to seal it properly and tie it to the raft.

Additionally, it’s always fun to carry an action camera and record the whole Whitewater Rafting course. I had a GoPro mounted on my chest from start to finish. However, with the over-movement of my upper body, the camera was also hampered by the life jacket— I had to adjust it.

Whitewater Rafting Expectations in Cagayan de Oro

I’ve known Whitewater Rafting as an extreme sport and an adrenaline-pumping activity. Before we went to Cagayan de Oro, I visualized that this activity was going to be non-stop paddling and relentless falling. But that wasn’t the case.

When we were there, the river was shallow enough to expose more rocks. The rapids were less violent and the paddling wasn’t really hard. Nonetheless, this experience has given us a little bit of adrenaline rush, relaxation, and has allowed us both to reconnect with nature.

Next time, if you’re going for Whitewater Rafting in Cagayan de Oro, the following can help you prepare:

  • Whitewater Rafting in Cagayan de Oro is a good year-round activity. During the dry season, from January to May, the water is clearer and the runs are less complex. And a fast, brown, murky water reaches the river during the rainy season between June and July.
  • The standard Whitewater Rafting experience in Cagayan de Oro could last up to three (3) hours, which will take you through 14 runs of Class II-III rapids and some Class IV rapids for the advanced course.
  • Whitewater rapids are classified according to the degree of difficulty and danger according to the International Scale of River Difficulty (ISRD). The rapids are all manageable during our Advanced Course. It was just Class III and below, I guess. In fact, none of us fell off the raft while navigating the rapids. There were moments when the raft was stuck on the rocks, and our guide had to get down to dislodge it.
  • The Advanced Course has a total of 24 rapids spread out along the river. Expect quiet times to admire the majesty of the river and the tranquility of nature.
  • In addition to the adrenaline pounding fun that you’re going to get from this trip, you’ll also (allowed) have some time to swim in the crystal clear waters along the way. You certainly won’t note the time.
  • You don’t have to be a swimmer to go for whitewater rafting. All you have to do is stay calm and afloat if you fall off the raft. Never swim against the raging water, you’re going to be drowned. Instead, wait for the guide to throw a line at you and pull you back to the raft.

Whitewater Rafting Expense Breakdown in Cagayan de Oro

Riding the Final Rapid Cagayan de Oro Whitewater Rafting
Riding the final rapids of the Advanced Course.

In addition to the Whitewater Rafting fee, we also paid Php 700/USB for the optional documentation service. The other guide who was with us was taking pictures and videos of us during the course.

Here is a list of the expenses of whitewater rafting in Cagayan de Oro:

  • Php 1,800 – Whitewater Rafting Package
  • Php 700 (Divided by 4 Pax) – Documentation Service (optional)
  • Php 100 – Rafting Guide Tip (optional)
  • Total Expenses: Php 2,075/ Pax

Also Read: Our 2-Day CDO & Bukidnon Trip: Guide, Itinerary & Tips

Afterthoughts

Cagayan de Oro Whitewater Rafting Pinterest

Indeed, Whitewater Rafting in Cagayan de Oro is really a must-have experience. Prepare the rush of adrenaline to fill your body as you glide over the raging rapids.

If you think we’re lacking something, let us know by leaving your comments below. High five!


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