White Water Rafting Telaga Wara, Bali

Check it out, I went white water rafting in Bali.

Not something I’d imagine myself doing but there I was, in my t-shirt and shorts, buckled into a life jacket, strapping a helmet on tightly. We had travelled 2 hours to get to the rafting centre by mini bus, where we will be rafting down the more challenging river Telaga Waja. We were the first group to arrive so we sat around and waited while the staff started pumping air into the inflatable boats.

I’ve never rafted in my life, in fact, I rarely do anything more exerting than click furiously on the mouse at a zombie. But it was during a conversation with a publisher who was sharing her Bali stories with me that I got inspired to try rafting. She told me to ask for river 4, which was apparently the most challenging of all rivers, and said it was safe enough to get on, even for a novice adventurer like me. Lucky for me, the girls were pretty game and we signed ourselves up for this rafting tour.

my paddle buddy.


Within the hour, more buses arrived and the group soon grew to about 50 of us. they split us to 4 a boat plus one boatman each. we were all handed paddles and without much ceremony, we were soon marching to our boats. We were paired up with a Spanish couple who sat in front of the boat. the boat man taught us simple instructions; forward paddle, back paddle and BOMBOM, which means DANGER WATCH OUT!

my partner lost one of her shoe in the river. by the end of the trip, she lost the other shoe.


I must say I didn’t regret this at all. according to the girls who rafted before, the other river Ayung is so calm that even grandmothers could paddle down that river, a true yawn. Telaga Wara has more obstacles and rapids so it was rather exhilarating without being dangerously so. at certain points, there were bamboo bridges built so low across the river that we had to lie flat on our backs as the boat glided underneath it. our noses were an inch from the bottom of these bridges! There were times where I held my breath as we cruised under the bridge, as if breathing might make my nose bigger than it already is.


there were 3 boat companies that used the Telaga Wara river so we met many other boats from other groups. there was a lot of good-natured splashing about as we deliberately paddled water into the faces of others. one of the boatmen in front of us sneakily splashed water at the back of his customers, pretending that it was our boat. when one of the girls whipped her head around to see who the culprit was, we all squealed and pointed at her boatman. so she started splashing water at his face in retaliation.


my girlfriend and I were very obedient paddlers. we did everything the boatman told us to do. at one point, the couple in front of us took a unplanned break and were chatting with each other while the both of us idiots continued to paddle furiously. I turned to my girlfriend and said in mandarin whether did the couple think they were on a river cruise or something, and that they had better start paddling soon or I will flip them off the boat.


Our boatman, Wayang. he was a really good boatman. not much of a joker like our friends’ boatman, who kept trying to toss one of them out of the boat by grabbing her life jacket from time to time. but our boat kept getting stuck among the rocks and he kept having to jump out of the boat to move it. one point, his paddle slammed into the rocks and his hand got caught in the paddle and there was an angry red mark on it. we gave him a very large tip after that.


the view from the top of the mountain.


close to the end of the ride, they suddenly stopped our boats and took our paddles. the boatman tucked the paddles away and made us sit at the bottom of the boat, bracing our legs against the sides of the boat. he made us hold hands and grab the ropes of the boat tightly. that was when he announced that we were going over a waterfall. WATERFALL? THEY DIDN’T MENTION ANYTHING ABOUT A WATERFALL IN THE BROCHURE?! so we braced ourselves, our boat being the first to go over. you can hear the waterfall as the boat floated towards it. it’s this huge roar of water and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. one minute you’re floating, the next, you feel your boat tipping ever so slightly, and all of a sudden, your heart lurches and you are FALLING AND SCREAMING and SCREAMING. before I could even complete my scream, the waterfall ended.

oh. that’s it? I asked, slightly embarrassed. at the bottom of the waterfall were other people waiting for us. I hope they didn’t realise who the screamer was.

soon the journey came to an end. they pulled our boats ashore and we got out. the boatman then told us we had to climb 300 steps to the top where lunch will be served. 300 STEPS?!?!?!?! THAT WASN’T IN THE BROCHURE EITHER!!!


I swear I almost died on this climb. before this, I was telling myself I gotta come rafting again. Half way up those 300 steps, I told myself no way am I doing this again. not unless there’s a helicopter ride at the end of this. close to 3/4 way, I saw white spots and i had to sit on the steps, lest I tumbled down the stairs and had to climb it back up again.


We made it! I climbed 300 steps! I think that was a bigger achievement than white water rafting.

A word to those who wish to try this. There are many companies out there that offer white water rafting tours, both on the Ayung and Telaga Wara rivers. My advice is to try the latter as it’s definitely more worth it than the grandmother cruise. Also, take the more expensive tour USD50 as it also includes insurance. but if you don’t really care, you can go for the cheaper option USD35, which was the one we went for.


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