July 28, 2007

Getting my adrenalin fix in Cagayan

Our jeep

Yay I finally did it! I finally went white water rafting! I've been wanting to do this for way too long. The last two times I was in Cagayan de Oro there was no time for any adventure; the first time we we were just passing through on our way to Camiguin island, and the second time was for work so no time there. But yes, finally, there I was feeling brave and snug in a blue lifevest, a yellow helmet strapped under my chin and yielding my oar (or "padol", god I love their accent ) like a knight yields his lance before a joust. Yeah! Bring it on!

So after a quick briefing on safety procedures from Jojo, our guide, the six of us secured our positions on the edges of the raft (see grey rubber strip on the boat below). Jojo and one of his crew positioned themselves behind us, bringing up the rear. Here we go! I felt tiny people doing somersaults and cartwheels inside me. Soon the circus had come to town in my tummy. I love the circus.

Our raft

After a few minutes of easy rowing, we picked up the sound of gushing water, like that of a tall waterfall. As it grew louder, I could make out the patch of white water, a stark contrast from the jade green river water, as it glistened in the sun and foamed over big, menacing rocks. Those rocks had the power to capsize us. "Lock your feet!", Jojo shouted, and we obediently tucked our feet under those hotdog-looking things in the middle of the raft and braced ourselves, awaiting the next command. "Now hard padol! " and we began to paddle fast and hard. Or attempted to. The first splash of water shocked me out of my senses. It was freezing! My thought process went something like this:

"Omigod omigod, this is it!......Whheeee! ......ooohhh fun....hahahaha...heehee...gasp! what the?! it's cold !!...... aaaaaahhhhhh......oh wait, I gotta paddle...... shoot I keep bumping Michelle's oar.....wheeeeeeeee.....gulp!....think I swallowed water......ack big rock!......phew......I'm...aaaahhhhhhhhh.....I'm soaked!.......brrrrr.....ouch this strap is cutting into my thigh.......wheeee.....hahahahaha.....no one's rowing.....hey....omigod that was FUN!.....huff....huff...."

And that was pretty much how it went for the rest of the 19 rapids. Screams and fits of laughter. In between rapids, we conserved our energy and drifted with the current, enjoying the scenery on either side of us. The river serves as a boundary between Cagayan de Oro to our left and Bukidnon to our right - each side equally rich in natural beauty and wild life such as wild carabaos and wild goats (wild because if you touch them their owners will go wild, says our guide the frustrated comedian) and beautiful wild orchids - whose fragrance filled the air around us wherever they were present.

Lunch by the river

We travelled 16 kilometers downstream on the Cagayan river and traversed about 20 rapids in all, degrees of rough water ranging from category 2 to 4+, with 5 being the strongest. The entire experience lasted about three hours and included a stopover for packed lunch. Tupperwares of grilled fish, shrimp, pork chops, rice, water and Cokes were brought to us from the jeep that followed us to their shack on the riverbank and which would later pick us up at the disembarkation point.

Refueled and pumped up with renewed energy, we forged on to conquer more white water. We were getting good at this, even helping our guides steer the boat sometimes by actually using our oars. There was one particular hairy turn that he warned us about and for which he needed our help if we were to get through it in one piece. To avoid the huge boulder in the middle of the river, we had to quickly maneouver the raft to the left of the rock and under an overhanging cliff. We had to duck low to avoid getting our heads banged up and then immediately veer right so we don't slam into the wall in the process. It was tricky and the most challenging of all, but with cooperation and determination we emerged victorious.

After each rough patch, Jojo would shout "high five!", our cue to raise our paddles above us in a group high-five slap, and echo "high five!" as we did so. This was one of his instructions during the briefing and I wondered what it had to with rafting safety, even thinking it was a little cheesy but funny. Never did we high-five each other with such pride and sense of triumph after that last one. Even nearly knocking some teammates overboard in the process. Ok, I exaggerate, but it was such a great feeling! After that one, the rest kinda paled in comparison and I secretly wished they all elicited that same thrill and sense of danger that gets my adrenalin pumping.

Boy from the caves

At the disembarkation point, our jeep was waiting for us. While some rinsed themselves in the makeshift showers, the crew packed up the gear and mounted the raft back up on the roof of the jeep. We proceeded to Macahambus Cave, a very dark and small cave which you enter from the side of the road. It is a "thru" cave that leads to an exit above the river (below). The handsome little man in the photo above was our guide who assisted us in crawling through the tunnels without bumping our heads. According to the plaque at the mouth of the cave, it "served as the hide-out of Kagayanon soldiers and their families during the Battle of Macahambus Hill which marked the victory of the Filipinos against the Americans in the Phil-American war in this nation in 1900."

Looking out into the river from the cave

Next on the agenda was the canopy walk (or sky bridge) and zipline at the Macahambus Adventure Park . The kick-off point of the canopy walk is street level above the Macahambus Gorge, so there was no hiking involved (read here why this mattered to me). Once again the crew took great pains in making sure we were well-equipped with the safety gear: a harness and helmet. This canopy walk, though not really less thrilling, made me feel safer compared to my Kota Kinabalu experience because we were harnessed to a cable above us and the bridge felt less wobbly. There is something about walking amidst tree tops with nothing between thw wooden planks under you and the earth but 150 meters of air that is so amazing.


Canopy Walk

The highlight of my day was the zipline,(also known as flying fox or death slide, yipes), which I had never done before and the mere thought of which made me nauseous with excitement. Upon reaching the third platform, we ascended a tower to another platform where the zipline cable starts at a steeper slope. All the better to propel you at the speed of light to your death err... to the other side, my dear.

We let our friend Joey, who incidentally is the most fearful of heights among us, go first so he could take pictures of us as we land, because we're thoughtful and selfless like that. The poor guy had barely even recovered from the canopy walk and there he was, sweating bullets while his harness was being fastened to a pulley on the cable. The guide held him back, shouted "Go?!" and when this was echoed from the other end he gave Joey a light shove the way you would a kid on a swing, and let gravity do it's job. Joey's screams and nervous laughter did nothing to calm our nerves and 4 people later it was my turn.

I said a quick prayer to the heavens and pleaded, "please Lord let this cord stay strong and carry me through to safety", because I learned from The Secret that this is the proper way to think and not "Please Lord, don't let this cable snap so I don't plunge into the gorge and risk getting my limbs torn off and my neck snapped and spine crushed." On the second "go" I was off, zipping and flying through the jungle and it was awesome! It was freakin' awesome! Until I saw my landing pad.

There was no landing pad. Just a concrete slab by the stone shack where we started from and about three guys positioned to catch me. I felt no fear until this point. I'm gonna slam into that wall like a fly on a windshield, I was sure of it! To make things worse, it seemed I was picking up speed! Then I gripped the cord tight and screamed, my life was in their hands now. Aaahh! They caught me. Barely.

I will not attempt to describe the feeling of ziplining to any of you, I want you to experience it yourself. But if you want an idea, watch this video Joey took while he was zipping along and listen carefully as he is robbed of his masculinity. ;)

Note: The entire package cost P1,400 (about $30) which includes: hotel pick-up and drop-off, 20 rapids (other companies only do about 15 or 16), the cave, canopy walk, zipline and packed lunch.


Golden Friendship Whitewater Rafting
Contact: Vittal @ (088) 858-9007 or 0919-4924488

Ridgeview Chalet
Ridgeview Chalets, Xavier Estates
Airport Rd., Cagayan de Oro City
Tel. Nos. (088) 858-7929/30 & 858-8933/37


ajay said...

Galing naman. Congrats on your super-adventure. Wish I can do this too:)

wysgal said...

Hooray! I got to do this a few years ago and totally loved it. =) Cagayan de Oro is really so accessible, especially with the cheap flights available nowadays ... I only wish more people could do this.

rowena said...

Accch...I think my comment got sucked into cyberspace so I'll try this again.

This is the most AWESOMEST adventure yet but fact that it cost only $30 US is un-be-lievable! So cool Christine...you GO girl!

katrina said...

you did it! been reading about this and my bro jonby has been raving about it! cagayan (and palawan) will be in our wish list next year if and when cebupac throws its promo again.

kids allowed? heehee. feel like a such a delinquent mother for even asking!

christine said...

Ajay, why don't you? You'd really enjoy it. :)

Hey wysgal, yes I love how accessible CDO is, and I love the place we stayed in (Ridgeview Chalet), it's right by the airport and closer to the river. There are so many options now compared to when I went the last time while my brother was still living there.

Hi Rowena! Thanks. :) Isn't it such a great deal? I forgot to mention the lunch comes free, I'll edit my post and include that.

Katrina, Cebu Pac will have their promos for a long time to come. In fact, while in CDO we read in the paper that they've lowered their regular rates by up to 65%. Imagine that?! I love them.

I asked the guide about kids (because I want to take my 2 nephews there to do all that) and he said the youngest they had was a 4 yr old which they weren't very comfortable about. Now they set the minimum age at 10.

ScroochChronicles said...

Yay!! Galing naman!! I'm still recovering from watching your pal's video. And so affordable. Hmm....you makin' me think ha :)

nina said...

What a great adventure! And 1,400 lang per person for the package? Sulit ah! I want to zipline again!

Ginny said...

Christine, how fun!!!!! i couldn't stop laughing while watching Joey's video.

christine said...

Cookie, go go! It's really very affordable, and the place we stayed in which was beautiful and had a nice view was about P2,500 a night for the superior room. Not bad considering how charming it is and how accessible to the airport and river. :)

Nina, isn't it so much fun? I could do it again and again. I wanna take my nephews there someday, hopefully next year. :) I was thinking about them the entire time, knowing they would love every minute of it.

Gins, I've watched it like 20 times and it still has me in stitches! We gotta go with the kids! :)

joey said...

Fun! Glad you had a fantastic time! :) I had so much fun when I went...I'd love to go back :)

grumpyurbanslacker said...


wow, what a thrilling whitewater rafting adventure! And the way you wrote about it was so vivid that i felt like i was there :D galeng!

on an unrelated note, okay ba Camiguin?

AnneMac said...

hi. got in through wysgal's blog :)

White Water rafting is indeed an adrenalin rush! Haven't done the Cagayan River, but surived Davao's. Yes, they have one there, too! They call one area the washing machine. Go figure! I should go conquer CDO next.

Oh and the zipline? For me, jumping off the ledge is the most difficult stage. I did the one in Subic -- 3 ziplines through the mountains. Woohoo!

Nice blog! Will visit more often :)

christine said...

Jo, you should go back and try the rafting this time! Maybe we can go together. ;)

Thanks GUS! Camiguin is a lovely island. There's something for everyone - a gorgeous sandbar from which you have a great view of the island and volcano, hot springs, rustic resorts, great dive spots like the sunken cemetery etc, and even just a drive around the island will yield interesting discoveries. You're making me want to go back! It's been so long, over 5 yrs since the last time. Let me know if you go and how you liked it. :)

Hi Annemac! They also had funny names for each rapid on the Cagayan river and most were tongue-in-cheek. :) Wow 3 ziplines!! I would love that! Gotta try that next time I'm in Subic. Thanks for the tip and for dropping by. :)

Belinda said...

Oh my gosh, Christine! White water rafting, canopy walking...you really are a thrill seeker! You deserve that "Girls Who Rock" blog award without a doubt! I loved reading this post, and your photos, as always, are amazing, so beautiful. :-) I could really picture being there myself, although not actually "in" the raft! Yikes!

christine said...

Belinda, you are too sweet, thank you so much! :) Don't underestimate yourself, I'm pretty sure you would enjoy the rafting experience too.

shalimar said...

when i see these activities and fun it somehow make me think maybe one day I should move back to the Philippines.... one day!!!!

christine said...

Aww Shalimar, hope I didn't make you too homesick. Do you get to visit? When was the last time you were home?

dodongflores said...

I read your account thoroughly, and, oh my! That was quite an adventure!
I lived in Cagayan de Oro during my college days but tourism was not progressive then at that time. I had been away for thirteen years and may visit the place again and feel the taste of the same adventure that you had.
Thanx again for sharing...

christine said...

Hi Dodong, wow 13 years! It's definitely time to go back. And this time take advantage of all the adventures the province offers it's visitors. :)

Cagayan de Oro Guide said...

Glad you enjoyed your stay in Cagayan de Oro (CDO). If you need tourist information about the city, visit this website at http://www.cdoguide.com

I am not a travel agent or connected with any commercial establishment. Contact directly the numbers posted in the website :-)

christine said...

Thanks! I'll keep this in mind the next time we go. :)

Honey said...

I love this blog! Im planning a trip to CDO and Camiguin and so far i havent had any success re: responses to my query about whitewater rafting and canopy walk and how to go about booking a tour for two people. I will call the contact number you posted. Thanks!

christine said...

Thank you, Honey! :) I'm glad I was able to help. There is another outfit that you can contact called the Red Rafts River Tour. My cousins booked with them and they said they had a very good experience as well. Their number is (088) 857-7238, and 0917-8556983. Have fun! :)

Honey said...

Excellent! Thanks Christine! Now I'm wondering if you have any contacts in Camiguin ... someone who can refer me to a tour guide and car rental (other than Johnny's Dive or the tours the resorts offer). I'd really appreciate it if you could help out. Thanks again =)

christine said...

Ack! I'm so sorry Honey! I was going through my emails, and I noticed this one. I can't believe I missed it. But anyway, I don't have any contacts in Camiguin except for the people at Paras resort (they are family friends), which is where I stayed with my family a few years ago. This is their website:


contact details are:
Telephone: +63 (88) 3879008
Telefax: +63 (88) 3879117
Cell number: 09269443606

I hope this helps!

Russell Ri said...

Hi everyone,

For Cagayan adventure packages of whitewater rafting, zipline and other tours, please contact me at info@e-philippines.com.ph

We also have other adventure packages and destination tours.

explore. experience. explore. Philippines.

lesly said...

whoa! all i could say is whoa! and im getting excited now going to cagayan! me and my bunchers were going there this coming january! and as of now, i could feel the intensity of excitement and the trembling of each cells inside me! im scared!!!!! but i really wanted to taste the adventure! so CDO here i come!!!!! really loved your blog!

christine said...

Hi lesly! I can feel your excitement! :) You will love every minute for sure!

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rafting cagayan de oro said...

This is an unforgettable awesome adventure, I could never forget mine. I was fun and exhilarating, same as you guys felt, as you pass through each rapid. Will definitely try the advance level, great article, had fun reading it.

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