Fun in the waters of CDO

Zest Magazine heads to CDO to discover its whitewater rafting.

Cagayan de Oro City (CDO) – dubbed as the “city of smiles” – is known for, among other things, seafoods (though many of them coming from the smaller towns dotting the shorelines when heading towards Iligan City); pineapples (though many of them coming from nearby Bukidnon, where some multinational corporations have plantations that extend as far as the eyes can see); Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach (LOL!); and yes, the warmth of the locals (thus the tagline).

But perhaps (still) not as widely known is that CDO is actually also a good venue for the more… adventurous; those who want to have fun via (relatively) more extreme activities. And here, braving CDO’s waters comes to mind via whitewater rafting, a good way to: 1) discover the fun that can be had at the outskirts of the city; 2) enjoying being one with nature; and 3) be somewhat more audacious.

Must-know things re whitewater rafting in CDO:

  1. There are tour companies that specialize on this (e.g. Kagay Outdoors and Great White Water Tours). What you – as a tourist – do is, simply, to call them and make the booking. Everything will then be arranged by them – e.g. transpo to and from the rivers, chow, et cetera.
  2. The price of the booking is, obviously, dependent on various factors, including: if you’re getting add-ons (like photography, meals, and so on); the class (that is, the difficulty of the rafting) you’re taking; number of hours in the water; et cetera.
  3. The tour operators have long divided CDO’s waters for rafting into three (major) classes – i.e. the higher the class, the more difficult the rafting is.
  4. There are from 14 to 24 rapids per ride, so – no matter the class you end up taking – you’re bound to get soaking wet. Meaning, bring extra clothes (and towel/s) with you.
  5. There are two (main) courses of rafting – i.e. the basic (Mambuaya to Cabula; takes two to three hours of actual river run) and the advanced (Uguiban to Cabula; takes three to four hours of actual river run).

The tour starts with you getting picked up at Divisoria (in downtown CDO). From there, you join other tourists (with the jeepney picking up tourists from hotels), and then be taken uphill (to Mambuaya or Uguiban).

When you reached the river, you are given the gears (helmets, life vests and paddles will be provided). You are then going to be “trained” – i.e. to listen to the guide, when to paddle, what to do if someone falls of the raft, and so on.

And then off you go… to brave the waters, and see CDO’s largely untouched parts. It’s fun, yes, trying to steer the raft so it won’t hit the rocky formations, and then be swallowed by rushing water – all the while trying to smile because there’s a photographer there somewhere taking random shots of everyone.

There are lulls now and then (in between rapids), and these provide opportunities to appreciate rural CDO – e.g. there are hanging bridges connecting mountains, makeshift modes of transportation used by locals to cross the raging rivers, water buffalos hiding in forests (as if no one owns them), cliffs that house rare flora… There’s beauty here for sure.

To end the day, there’s a chance for everyone to take a dip in the waters just before the rafting is wrapped up. If –as in our case – none fell off the raft while braving the rapids, the lesson of how to get someone back on board comes handy this time around, as you help your company board the raft again just before the sun starts to set.

Replenishment happens (for those who pay extra) before the tour ends, with some chow (NOTE: nothing great here) waiting for the tourists in a kubo cum resto where the jeepneys are waiting to take everyone back to the city.

This is fun, indeed; and a good change to just staying in “civilization”. Because – truly – now and then, being one with nature is the way to go to appreciate real beauty. And here, CDO’s whitewater rafting more than suffices…

The rafting costs from P1,200 per head, plus the extras.
You may reach Kagay Outdoors at: (088) 852-1021, 0917-712-2442, 0922-388-6200 or 0917-712-2323; while Great White Water Tours may be reached at (088) 851-7856, 0917-706-0677 or email


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