Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental: Braving the Great White Rapids

by - 12:20 PM

Cagayan de Oro City is the heart of northern Mindanao and is the best start-off point to other adventures since it is situated near Camiguin, Bukidnon, and Iligan. A friend also nicknamed Cagayan as the “unsung gem of Mindanao” since Mindanao is, more often than not, linked to Davao more than any other city, town, or province.

I’ve always thought that Cagayan de Oro is a province in itself but when our plane landed in Laguindingan Airport, which is about 46 kilometers away from the city (an hour of travel time), I realized that the City of Golden Friendship is the capital of Misamis Oriental province of which Laguindingan is also a part of.

And what better way to enjoy Cagayan de Oro than through the White Water Rafting Adventure? Oh, yes!

Braving and enjoying the great white rapids of the Cagayan de Oro river.

White Water Rafting is an extreme adventure sport that is the prime tourist attraction of this humble city. There are a lot of tour companies to choose from and we booked ours with Kagay, one of CDO’s established and experienced outfitters.

Kagay's jeepney service. Those rafts on top are the ones we used during the adventure.

Since we reached the city at around 9 am, the tour company advised us to join the afternoon batch instead so we’ll have a few more hours to rest and the sun wouldn’t be too harsh by then. They promptly picked us up at around 1 pm and we joined a few other groups composed of Filipinos and foreigners alike to an adrenaline-filled afternoon.

 Tourists busy browsing through the stuff being sold at a souvenir shop at the jump-off point.

Going to the jump-off point of the course we chose took about 3o minutes of travel time through the mountainside’s cemented and rough roads. As we inched closer, I could already hear the gentle but steady sound of the great river of Cagayan along with my heart’s pounding drumbeat.

High five, guys! The group's paddle high five after going through a challenging rapid that almost overturned the raft.

There are two white water rafting courses to choose from, namely:
Beginners Course. The Beginner’s course will take 3-4 hours of adventure with 14 major rapids  (Class I or II) through 13 kilometers of the great Cagayan de Oro river. This is ideal for the first-timers or for those people who don’t know how to swim or who are not strong swimmers.
Advance Course. On the other hand, the Advance Course is perfect for the experienced and daredevil sorts who are in for an adventure that will take 5-6 hours with 22 major rapids (Class III and IV), minor, and major rapids stretching to 19 kilometers of the golden river.

It's like riding nature's roller coaster!

And being the thrill-seeker that I am, I chose the Advance Course, of course! Not. I don’t know how to swim so taking that course is like a form of suicide for me. Lol!

Prior to the ride of our lives, the guides gave an orientation first on the guidelines for a fun yet safe adventure. Everyone should help in paddling at his command and should know what to do when he shouts “Lock your feet!” when approaching the rapids.

Being one of the youngest in the group, my boyfriend and I were placed at the front of the raft while three middle-aged women who were in Cagayan for a conference were seated comfortably in the middle. It freaked me out a little knowing that we’ll be the first ones who will brace the impact of the strong rapids and there’s a higher chance we’ll be thrown off the raft. One of the older women tried to assure me by saying ”Kaya mo yan, hija” (You can do it, kid) while I took a deep breath and accepted the challenge.

Round and around we go!

The start of the entire adventure was easy-peasy at first since we were just going with the flow and letting the river's current propel us down the stream but when I saw the water slowly becoming "white" from a distance, I gripped my paddle so hard that even my hands turned white. Lol.

One, two, three, jump! 
The group playing around and having fun on the calmer parts of the river.

After battling the first rapid, I was actually looking forward to the succeeding ones. I was on a high with the adrenaline-pumping activity that I was literally grinning the whole time! It is also surprising to note that there are calm waters in some parts of the river where the guide allowed us to jump from the raft and let us swim to our hearts' content.  

Taking a break from all the paddling (and screaming). 

What I appreciate most during the whole trip was how the guide entertained us with funny anecdotes and nice-to-know facts of the great river that traverses Cagayan. One of the funny stories he shared was how foreigners kept on asking him of the flora and fauna species found along the river which he has no idea of. So he found a way of naming birds according to their color and just attach the word "Philippine" to its name - such as: the Philippine Black Bird, the Philippine Blue Bird, etc. Very clever!

The Snake Wall.

Along the river you will also find a wall made of stone where snakes are believed to be living. Lucky enough there were no snakes lurking around when we paddled near the wall or else everyone would have jumped off the raft. 

The entire group taking one final pose before going home.

White Water Rafting Adventure is not for the faint-hearted. You'd be experiencing a lot of different emotions - from happiness to excitement to fear to euphoria - in just a few seconds and there's no better place to experience the thrill than in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental.

Kagay White Water Rafting Adventure
Basic Course: Php 700
Advance Course: Php 1,000

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