I got my very first taste of white-water rafting almost two years ago in the warm, tropical waters of the Rio Pacuare, Costa Rica. Since then, I’ve been countless more times in Nepal and Ladakh. While the basic act of rafting is pretty similar in all places–put on safety gear, follow the guides’ instructions, paddle hard, get wet–each location offers a different experience. Enjoying the landscape is at least half the fun with white-water rafting, and this obviously differs between locations. And while I love rafting in Nepal, the waters here are a bit colder than my first experience in Costa Rica. So I was happy to find that white-water rafting on the Cagayan de Oro, in the Philippines, was pretty similar to rafting the Rio Pacuare: warm waters, medium-sized rapids, exotic jungle and plenty of time for swimming.
Cagayan de Oro in a city in northern Mindanao, the southern-most main island of the Philippine archipelago. It doesn’t get very many foreign tourists at all, due to an isolated Islamist insurgency in parts of the island. Yet I found the places I visited (the city of Cagayan de Oro and Camiguin Island) to be very safe and comfortable. Camiguin Island is a beautiful and adventure-filled destination in its own right, although Cagayan de Oro city is not overly interesting in itself. Yet, about 30 minutes’ drive from the city is the put-in point for rafting trips along the river that shares its name. If you’re passing through Cagayan de Oro, then it’s worth stopping in Cagayan de Oro for a night so you can go rafting. It’s one of the best places in the Philippines to do so.
There are two options for rafting on the Cagayan de Oro:
- the shorter beginner/intermediate course that I did, with smallish rapids (nothing larger than a Class III) that lasts around 3 hours;
- a full day trip that includes some larger rapids, and is better suited to more experienced rafters.
I would, of course, have liked to do the longer trip, but we had quite a few first-time rafters on our trip, and had limited time.
Since my GoPro sank to the bottom of the Bhote Kosi River back in April, I haven’t been able to document my rafting trips myself. Luckily, we had a professional photographer accompanying us while rafting on the Cagayan de Oro. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
I was a participant on the Rivers to Islands Post-BEX fam trip, after the TBEX Asia Pacific Manila 2016 Conference. All of my expenses in Mindanao were covered, including white-water rafting on the Cagayan de Oro, but all opinions are entirely my own.