One of the adrenaline filled activities I have always wanted to try is white water rafting. Near Cairns there are a few roaring rivers so I decided to book myself on a half day trip with Raging Thunder. This company has a pretty good track record, reflected in the fact that it was voted 'Best Tour/Activity in Queensland' by the TNT 2015 Golden Backpackers.
There are three different types of Rafting Tours available:
- Extreme Full Day Rafting
- Full Day Rafting
- Half Day Rafting
Or in other words...Rafting for adrenaline junkies, rafting for the brave and rafting for the wimps....needless to say, I fall in the latter category.
Aside from the fact that I wanted to get my feet wet (pun totally intended) before attempting the more extreme option, I also didn't have a whole day spare and with a duration of approximately 3-4 hours, the Half Day trip is the perfect activity for those days where you fancy doing something fun, but are on a tight schedule.
For more information on the Extreme & Full day tours head over here.
My Half Day Tour ($133) started at 2:00pm, when the Raging Thunder Bus picked me up from outside my Hostel. This is when I met my guide and hero for the day...Ben. After a warm welcome and taking care of standard paperwork, he gave us all a quick briefing on how the tour was going to go and within a 20 minute drive we arrived at Barron River.
We were provided with the necessary gear - life jacket, helmet & paddle. (NOTE: If you have a GoPro bring it along! the helmets have the necessary attachment. I didn't know this and left mine at home, which was a real shame.) You are also required to wear closed shoes, if you don't they have crocks you can rent at an extra cost.
We were divided into groups and headed down to the river bank where Ben got us into the raft and demonstrated basic rowing moves. After a little practice paddling around we were ready to hit the rapids!
Fortunately I was asked to sit at the front..if you can, I would recommend that you do that. You get unobstructed views, the most fun and the best pictures ;).
The rapids in this tour are of grade 2-3 so nothing too intimidating but enough to get your heart pumping! Most of the the time we casually paddled forward whilst Ben kept us entertained with stories and terrible jokes ha ha. When it was time to approach the more turbulent areas, Ben gave us plenty of notice and instructions on what we had to do. The drops and bumpy areas are what transform the tour from a simple leisurely paddle to an adrenaline filled activity - It was SO MUCH FUN...
If you follow your instructor's directions, you are unlikely to fall out of the raft but you will get wet so wear clothes of a material that isn't too uncomfortable when wet. You also have the opportunity to jump in the river for a swim, DO IT! it is all part of the experience.
WARNING: The second time I jumped in I was particularly thirsty so decided to drink up half of the river's contents...All jokes aside, even the areas of the river which appear calm have a very strong undercurrent. Your life jacket will ensure that you float but I was pulled under for a good 10 seconds which was long enough to get me a little panicked, so always be alert ladies!
Not having brought my own GoPro, I was happy to learn that a photographer is strategically placed along the River to take pictures of you screaming in a panic when you brave the drops. The pictures are available for purchase at the end of the tour for $30 (on a USB stick)
Once back on dry land, you are provided with Tea & Coffee to warm you up. You are also able to get changed, so unlike me, make sure to bring a change of clothes and a towel so that you don't catch pneumonia by sitting on the bus ride home in your soaking wet clothes.
We were dropped back at the hostel by 5:30pm, drowned like rats but still excited like children returning from the playground.
I really enjoyed the tour and I really appreciated the good service I received. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to a friend (would especially recommend Ben as a guide) and I am even playing with the idea of braving the Full Day Tour....maybe after a shot of Tequila for confidence.
Until my next adventure,
Disclaimer: I did not pay the full cost of the tour but the above review is a reflection of my true experience and options.