REVIEW: Bali River Rafting (Telaga Waja)

Our resident blogger Yeni R takes a trip down Telaga Waja River, Bali’s most exciting river rapids

One fine June morning in Bali, my sister and I were picked up from our Canggu villa for a day in the jungle. We had signed up for a river rafting trip at Telaga Waja River, one of the two major rapid systems in the “Island of the Gods.” (The other one is the Ayung, which is supposedly more family friendly).

Located in Bali’s centre-East, it’s more convenient to get to the starting point of Telaga Waja from Ubud. Thankfully, our cheerful driver Ketut of Trip Guru didn’t mind picking us up from Canggu further south. A bit annoying, though, that he went in what felt like completely the opposite direction to pick up 3-4 Chinese ladies before we actually went up to Kabupaten Karangasem, where the river rafting is located.

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Not sure how many minutes / hours that added to our journey, but we flagged it with Trip Guru later on. However, they got back to us saying that if our group isn’t full, that’s the best way to bring tour costs down for vendors and ultimately customers: to carpool. That made sense in terms of economics, and as well on fuel saving and congestion-avoiding.

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The river jumping off point marked north east of Ubud

Jumping off point

We finally made it to the starting point, where we were offered a few local snacks, coffee and other drinks. I had to rent sandals with straps as I was warned my flip flops might fall off in the rapids and just contribute to litter on the river. Plus, I wouldn’t have anything to walk in afterwards, so I just bit the bullet and rented a pair. If you don’t want to shell out any extra costs, you have been warned! Wear waterproof footwear with straps!

Also, wear quick-drying clothes as I had gone in a bikini with denim shorts, thinking I could do just the whole thing in a bikini. However, everyone else was in rashguard and beach shorts, so I didn’t want to look naked under my lifejacket in a flesh coloured bathing suit. I wore the denims, which quickly got damp and heavy as soon as we started paddling down the rapids. 😦

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On the rapids

We got a briefing and crash course before being handed our equipment: helmet, paddle and life jacket. The paddles were quite long and if you’re not careful you may hit someone else, or even yourself walking / paddling around with it in hand!

The scenery around the river was absolutely gorgeous, in a wild kind of way. It was a great way to see Balinese countryside, floating down one of its life sources. Rice paddies, foot bridges, dense jungle… and on a hot day, it’s especially nice to be all cool and splashing around on a raft rather than baking on, say, a hike.

We got paired with a nice young Chinese couple on our raft, making us 5, including our guide. The trip was the right amount of adventure and chill, there’s just something so  fun about getting whirled around while paddling like crazy along with your whole team. And holding on to dear life literally by a rope knotted to your raft. And leaning this way or that to avoid overhead branches or big stones on the riverbed. Our kind of fun!

The vibe along the river was light because everyone was enjoying. Expect splash fights to ensue!

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Lunch with a view

By the end of around 13km of river, we were done and HUNGRYYY. We ended up in a restaurant overlooking the above pictured rice fields. The buffet spread of Indonesian / Asian comfort food more than satisfied us, after kind of not eating anything the whole day until around 1pm.

Can you shower before / after eating? Yes at some makeshift backwater showers. The opposite of luxurious, but we made do! Bring some toiletries, towels and a change of clothes if you want to feel fresh and dry by the end of the day 🙂

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View from our lunch spot

Would we recommend it?

Yup! Especially when there are no waves to surf, on hotter days, and just as a break from being in a car / the city / shopping / eating. As adventure junkies, we love active holidays, and this rounded out Bali with a nice adrenaline rush.

Check out www.morenatravels.com to find out more about the author, a world wanderer from Manila based in Hong Kong, and soon, New York. 

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