Editor’s note: Papa Luigi enjoyed white water rafting in Bali on his company’s retreats so much, he decided to take his kids (age 6, 8 and 10) on a recent (Aug 2015) Bali trip. He’s done some research too, and shares with us some tips on what to look for when booking a Bali Rafting expedition for the family.
On a couple of company retreats to Bali, my team had gone white water rafting at Ayung River. It was one of the funnest Bali activities I’ve tried. Decided I would take my kids to try out rafting in Bali if and when we visit Bali with the kids.
Fast forward to August this year (2015). With the 4-Day long weekend over SG50 (Singapore’s 50th Independent Day), my wife and I decided to take the kids to Bali for an R&R weekend. It was quite a last-minute decision, so not much planning (read: NONE) went into the trip. Which was fine.
Having visited Bali countless times, my wife and I just wanted to chill. No temple visits, no long hikes or bike rides, no squeezing with the crowds at popular attractions such as WaterBom Bali or the Bali Safari. We just want to relax by the pool, read and laze in a decent villa. We decided to base ourselves in Seminyak Bali.
There are many Bali Villa to choose from and we checked ourselves into a Disini D’Villa in Semiyak. It was exactly what we were looking for.
The room itself was not huge, but the dining and lounging area was. The in-villa pool was well sized and the bale a great place to read.
Breakfast cooked to order was delivered to us to our villa daily. My wife and I had our massage right by the pool – great, so we could watch our kids play.
(Editor’s note: Well, if your idea of a Balinese holiday with the kids involve more kids-friendly sightseeing, check out Ling Siew’s recommendation of 5 Bali Attractions just perfect for families with young kids!)
This Seminyak villa was also walking distance to Ku De Ta and Potato Head – great places to chill with a drink in hand when the kids clamoured for some beach action.
But I remembered how fun it was to go White Water rafting in the Ayung River, and decided we’d got to experience Bali rafting with our kids at least once.
I couldn’t recall the rafting company that took my colleagues and I on our trips, so it was down to browsing brochures.
Having never organised any of my previous white water rafting Bali trip, I learnt a few things about white water rafting in Bali.
Ayung River and Telaga Waja River. Ayung River, in Ubud, is the more famous of the two; it was where I had rafted previously. Telaga Waja River is located at the Karangasem regency, towards the east of Bali, and supposedly the more challenging of the two.
…and you can bargain with most of the tour sellers. Especially the “tourist information centres” you find dotted around town, in Kuta, Ubud etc. These are the travel agents and NOT the rafting companies. When booking and if you have in mind a Bali rafting company you want to go with, ASK them which operator they are booking you with. Do that too, if you are planning via Whatsapp or email with tour agencies.
Toekad seem to have a great relationship with these travel agents. Three out of the four agents I checked out, recommended them for our Bali rafting trip.
Of course you can book online too; the Bali rafting companies usually offer some form of discount if you book on their website.
Typically, the prices quoted will include: return transfer from your hotel, rafting equipment including life jacket and helmet, simple buffet lunch.
Each Bali rafting company have their own start and stop points on the river, so you will have a shorter or longer route down the river according to where the start-and-end points for the companies are.
To decide between the two rivers, I found this article by a Bali rafting agency very useful.
In the end, we booked our Bali rafting experience with Mega Rafting, choosing Ayung River over Telaga Waja River. Since my kids are only 6, 8 and 10, we thought it would be a safer choice, as I had been on the river twice. Felt safer that way!
Not sure how true that was, but we did start at a point ahead of most companies and saw several companies that started after us, but ended before us too.
I booked via Whatsapp with Bali Trip, and our family package for 2 adults and 3 children was USD 150.
It was fun – even my 6yo girl loved our Bali rafting adventure.
(Editor’s note: More river-fun with Ling’s post on River Tracing in Hualien, Taiwan. What is River Tracing? Check out the post for more information.)
The driver picked us up from the hotel around 8am, and it took us about 1.5 hour to drive through the countryside to their shop in Ubud. After registering, we were introduced to our guide, ushered to our locker where we kept our extra change of cloths and valuables. Then driven a short distance to the start point, where we began our long descent to the river to finally start out Bali rafting adventure.
We took about two hours to complete our route. The kids loved it when the guide goes “Boom Boom” – which meant to hang on to your rope when we reach a rapid. Frankly our guide did pretty much most of the work paddling and navigating us through the river. Our kids contributed little to the paddling, though my wife and I like to think we helped.
It was nice to break for a moment, to laze in the river and just admire the view all around.
The shower facilities after the trip was fine, not fantastic – I have had better (more to come). Lunch was alright, too – rice with simple vegetable dishes and curry chicken, and fried mee.
You can get a CD of your pictures at a fee; we forget and left without buying it – that would have been a nice memento of our Bali rafting trip. Next time, I suppose.
Overall I would say Mega Rafting provided good-value-for-money. You still get the thrills of rafting in the Ayung River, but the set up is not as elaborate as a couple of others.
We got back to our Seminyak villa by about 3pm and yes, spend the rest of the day chilling, only breaking out for dinner at a nearby warong.
Back from the trip, I checked back my old photos to check the companies I had rafted with. These are the two, for comparison:
Turns out this was the premium Bali rafting company.
It was a pretty fancy set-up. Their equipment were very well maintained, looked and felt new. Our team building event was very well organised, with over 20 rafts in our convoy. It was a lot more rough than my family’s trip – my colleagues and I were racing each other down the river! All of us had a life jacket on, some rafts overturned but no incident. Some of my colleagues didn’t know how to swim too, but they took care of us well and no one panic even in the water.
The toilet facilities were very good – clean and with individual lockers. The venue for lunch was stunning, the food was excellent but ours was a catered event so it might have been a better selection? I recalled from shopping around that they are the most expensive operator, and the travel agents I spoke with advised that Soebak is the one Bali Rafting operator that does not offer discounts.
Good to know my company didn’t sting on us
Used them on another trip, they were very good too. In fact I would say this was my favourite amongst the three companies I have now rafted with.
There were railings by the side of the stairs on the way down, which was helpful to some of my older colleagues.
The way back up was equally well-maintained.
If I had recalled the company’s name, I would have booked our Bali rafting trip with them. Online, they offer a family package for 2 adults and 3 kids at USD212. I would have been glad to pay the difference for the quality of gears + better overall facilities. It was a shorter rafting route down the Ayung River.
1. Bring some money on the raft if you think you’d like to buy drinks along the river. Better yet, bring your own bottles of water.
2. Shop around – you do get what you paid for. Having experienced three Bali Rafting companies I’d have to say it’s true. The difference is in the equipment and facilities etc, it’s still the same river.
3. The company will usually provide you with a dry bag for your belongings. We took our mobile phones thinking we will take more pictures. We only used it during the drink break.
4. If you have a Go-Pro camera, bring it along. Some of the helmets have Go-Pro monts left on them.
5. Wear swimwear for the rafting trip. Board shorts, swim top etc. Bring along a change of clothes to change into after the rafting trip. All three companies I went with had lockers for us to keep our belonging, and shower facilities. All provided towels.
6. My 6yo handled the trip well. I think kids over 5 year old should be able to manage. They won’t be helping much with the paddling though. Inform the company you are going with well in advance if you are going with kids, so they can assign you guides who will be able to handle the “extra weight”. Our guide was a strong 30-plus year old, seasoned chap.
I’d like to take the kids again sometime. Maybe, we will try Bali rafting at Telaga Waja next. Looking forward to the 4m drop!