Location: Davao del Norte, Republic of the Philippines. Date: July 04, 2014. Author: Liz.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” ― Helen Keller
Davao Wildwater Rafting
I get a bit excited having the chance to write about this because the bruise at the corner of my right eye near the brow line is still fresh. Yes, I got myself accidentally hit by a paddle when our raft capsized during the third to the last rapids of Davao River's 13km stretch. I didn't see that coming! Good thing it wasn't that serious. So beware and take extra care if you are about to do this activity.
The warning sign at Base Camp shop flashed back to me and it reads:
"River Rafting is an extreme outdoor adventure activity with inherent risks and hazards where serious accidents can occur."
Safety First. Rafting 101. Check for yourself the conditions which are not fit for this outdoor activity.
God is good!
I am still thanking God this is the only thing that happened to me. A couple of weeks prior to our Davao trip, there was a reported casualty (first ever in commercial rafting) in Cagayan de Oro River. The girl was reported to be missing for three days before her body was found.
"Her body was lodged underneath a boulder in what rafters call an undercut — a section of river where rapids hit a large obstruction creating a vacuum which in this case is about 14 to 20 feet deep. Guides had to clear and scoop out other debris before they were able to find the body, first finding the helmet which had gotten loose." (Read more: Inquirer.net)
It was Thursday back then at Davao Crocodile Park, while we were enjoying our third day in the city when we inquired at Davao Wildwater Adventure, Inc. (which is just located inside the compound) about their wild water rafting schedule as we included it in our next day itinerary. However, the earliest they have at that time was Saturday. We nearly panicked. It was a good thing that a Base Camp Davao ad caught my attention upon our arrival at the airport and I was able to take a photo of it through my phone.
Alvin immediately made contact with them while we're on our way to Eden Nature Park (on the same day) and they graciously replied and accommodated us for their next day's rafting. Many thanks to Jack for his patience in connecting with us via SMS. His responses were prompt and he arranged everything smoothly. We both feel relieved. God is so good! He's there with us all the time making sure we'll have the most of our 5-day stay in our Davao trip. He made us land with a better option (less expensive rate and a more accessible shop). I didn't even mention yet about the weather, did I? It was supposed to be rainy during the week but through all His mighty glory, He made all our plans happened with the sun smiling right at us.
Wildwater Rafting Business
Davao River ranks seventh amongst the largest river basins in the Philippines and its rafting season is all year round. Currently, there are only two commercial companies managing the wild water rafting in the city.
Davao Wildwater Adventure is the first river rafting company to operate in Davao. They started in 2005. A few years later, Base Camp Davao emerged as the 2nd river rafting company in the city. The former currently charges PHP 1,700.00 while the latter's charge is at PHP 1,500.00. They both offer a shuttle service from each assembly point into the rafting area in Barangay Tamugan in Calinan District and then back to their respective shops. The fee is also inclusive of individually packed lunch, bottled drinking water, documentation CDs, safety gears and river guides. Base Camp Davao offers free pick-up if you're staying within the downtown area.
We arrived early before 7 am at the Base Camp Davao Shop in Madrazo Fruit Complex.
The ALventure begins...
We were joined to another group since there's only the two of us. We were briefed about the how to's of wild water rafting upon reaching Tamugan River. We were trained on how to put on our rafting gears, how to use the paddle, what commands to follow and which paddle strokes to use.
Then we had a safety drill on the rafting site. We were asked to jump into calm flat waters and learned how to drift and how to rescue someone who falls from the raft.
The Rescue Operation
The next thing we knew was that we were all paddling our raft through the rapids of the river. "Easy forward, easy forward!" our cool river guide Coycoy yelled out as he was commanding us to move the raft.
Look at that!
Conquering the rapids
Going through those series of rapids, one after the other, for two hours was really exhilarating. Conquering the "double drop" spot was so much fun and thrilling. The water was above normal level since it's been raining the other day so we missed to see the spot which they call "the washing machine".
As I have mentioned earlier, our raft have flipped right over left and this happened on the second drop of what they call "drop and suck" and we all soaked and drifted into the strong current of the river.
The good weather is an added bonus but the real appeal is the landscape.
Aside from the thrill of the rapids, the lush greenery of trees and undergrowth along the river banks are worth sight-seeing.
Coicoi said that monkeys show up around the area sometimes, however, we didn't see one at the time we did the rafting there.
We also saw what the locals call "The Vanishing Falls" which gives a cascade of falling water during rainy days otherwise it has no water at all.
Our rafts also passed under a hanging bridge at the calmer water portion of the river.
Eat and Run!
After 2 hours of paddling our raft, we were all treated to a lunch at the Take-Out Area in Barangay Lacson. They served rice, fried chicken, pancit guisado, and hard-boiled eggs.
After eating, we headed back to the Base Camp shop where we viewed the onsite photos and videos of our wild water rafting. We laughed at each other reminiscing what happened back there at the river.
All of us were very much thrilled on this activity. It was absolutely fun! Something worth remembering as time puts wrinkles on your skin and paints gray on your hair. A great story to share in this TravelBook.
And if you happen to be visiting Davao City, make sure to include this in your itinerary. It is well worth it! 😉
Special Thanks to Base Camp Davao, especially to our river guides Coicoi and Mark; Igi for the safety training and of course, we will not have these great photos without our action photographer, Onin. Kudos, mates! We salute you. Thank you all for keeping us safe.
Book your wild river adventure at Base Camp Davao.
- Address: Door 77 Madrazo Fruit Complex, C.Bangoy Street, Davao City, Philippines 8000
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Below was our ITINERARY for that day.
0700 - Assembly at Base Camp Shop (Madrazo Fruit Complex)
0830 - Departure
0930 - Arrival at Put In area, Barangay Tamugan
1000 - Start of Rafting
1200 - Arrival at Take-Out area, Purok 8, Barangay Lacson / Lunch
1300 - Departure for Base Camp Shop (Madrazo Fruit Complex)
1400 - Arrival at Base Camp Shop (Madrazo Fruit Complex)
Whitewater Rafting Checklist
- Rash guard or light weight sweater (wear the most comfortable for you)
- River shorts/Dri-Fit leggings
- Sun block
- Ball cap/sun visor
- Paddling/biking gloves
- Sunglasses or prescription glasses with string or strap (optional, the shop offers non-branded shades which you can use, or you may use your expensive glasses at your own risk)
- Old Sneakers, neoprene booties, or river shoes (or any footwear that is not easy to come off)
- Waterproof Camera (optional, there will be an onsite photographer)
- Energy Bar for the river
- Water or Energy drink and snacks
- Towel or towels
- Plastic Bag(s) (for wet things such as sneakers)
- Extra Clothes
- Personal toiletries
Need a Refill?
After your wild water rafting adventure, you will surely get hungry. Fresh fruits and sweet delicacies of durian, mangosteen, pomelo and mango variations are available at the stalls just outside the complex so you'll have the chance to take a pick and buy some sweets which you may have longed tasting or wanted to bring back home for your loved ones to try.
You may also drop by at Chavez Street in Davao City and treat yourself with Davao's local lechon. There's a number of lechon houses to choose from and you might want to try the original lechon in Davao from Naty's. Served with Kurat vinegar for a very affordable price. Get a delectable plate for two at around PHP 112.00 only.
Naty's Lechon House
Address: 836 Gov Chavez, Davao City, Philippines
Contact Number: +63 82 221 8570
Now I remember, I'm hungry... See you all next time! 🙂
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