“Here we go!” I yelled, as my raft was pulled towards a gushing waterfall in the middle of the jungle. My stomach lurched, as it careened off the four-metre drop and landed with a thud.
This was the biggest fall of my three-hour rafting trip and a massive rush.
I woke early that day and headed into Ubud for a morning brew. The charming village was just beginning to stir and it was looking beautiful in the morning light. Cultural restaurants and intricately adorned doors line the streets. Dotted with stone monkey statues and market stalls. I stopped often, to gaze down winding jungle passageways and into countless temples and shrines.
A friendly local then picked me up and we headed to the Telaga Waja River in the Village of Mancun. The drive took around an hour and a half, passing through some stunning rural scenery and forestation.
I was handed a small helmet, lifejacket and paddle. After a quick safety brief at the river mouth, we were ready to set off.
The rapids were a level 3-4 and nothing too extreme – aside from that giant drop. This comes half way down the river, where you will stow the paddles away and hold on tight. Once we set off, I quickly fell into a steady rhythm with the paddle and started to appreciate my incredible surrounds.
The clear river was hedged by thick tropical rainforest, separated only by the occasional rice paddy field.
“Boom boom,” the guide called out, as we approached a large boulder at full speed. I held on tight as we crashed into it - getting stuck halfway. With a bit of manoeuvring and jumping, we were able to move on. This characterised the next hour of the trip, as we navigated the river. Dodging countless rocks, rapids and even bamboo bridges – which forced us to lay flat to pass under.
The river was roughly 18km long and about a three-hour trip all up. We hit the halfway mark and stopped at a wide plateau. After grabbing a quick drink, I set off to explore the forests edge. I stopped at the mouth of a large cascading waterfall to take some photos. I made my way to the base of the fall, letting it wash over me. After my refreshing shower, I was ready to jump back onto the river.
For the most part, it was less a matter of paddling and more manoeuvring, as the river pushed us along. After the main section was over, we floated into a wide space of deeper water. The guide flashed a cheeky grin and made a flipping motion. As we hit the far wall, the group leant over, flipping the boat upside down. I held my breath and surfaced quickly.
As we neared the end of the river, large storm clouds begun to roll across the sky. I watched in awe as a range of colours drifted over the rice fields. We missed the downpour by moments, touching down at the base of a large hill. I then grabbed some well-earned Balinese lunch, a drink and said cheers to yet another incredible experience in this vibrant country.
Scott Bidmead is an international journalist, travel TV presenter and writes for lifestyle and news outlets.
Instagram: @scottbidmead Twitter: @ScottB
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