CAGAYAN DE ORO, MINDANAO – CDO White Water Rafting was my birthday present to myself. This was my first solo trip in the Philippines outside of Luzon. This was also the shortest. A weekend flight in and out of Cagayan de Oro. Flown in Saturday morning and flown out of CDO Sunday afternoon. I have done it with a very cheap fare.
So the itinerary was simple. First day: reach CDO, commute to the city proper, check-in at the hotel, roam the city on foot, eat, sleep. Day two: Breakfast at the hotel, check-out, get fetched by the white water rafting operator, go to the white water rafting site, do white water rafting, change clothes, go to the airport and then back to Manila.
From CDO airport I decided to ride the jeepney going to the town proper without knowing a single word of the local dialect. This experience in Mindanao taught me to trust people and follow my gut.
It was still early to check-in at D Budgetel CDO. I was also already hungry at that time. I have eaten lunch in Gaisano City Mall, walking distance to my hotel.
Staying in at D’ Budgetel Cagayan De Oro
The hotel was cheap and clean. The room was small with a single bed. Nothing to ask for with that kind of overnight rate. The breakfast was just okay. Good enough to fill you for the day.
Other Cagayan de Oro hotels you can check out:
Visiting Plaza Divisoria Night Market
Going to the Plaza Divisoria Night Market, I was amazed by CDO’s local tricycle version. The numbering on them made it easy to recall which one you have used.
There were many food stalls in the Plaza Divisoria Night Market. You can see sinugba dishes, rice cakes and other local delicacies. This was my first time to see a “puso,” cooked rice wrapped in palm/coconut leaves.
It was raining that time hence I decided to eat inside a restaurant along Plaza Divisoria.
CDO White Water Rafting by Kagay
I have chosen Kagay due to the favorable reviews I have read about them online.
Their service was pretty straight forward. I have booked it in advance and included in the service was the pickup in the hotel and the CD copy of all the pictures taken throughout the activity.
I was picked-up in the hotel on time. When I arrived in the meeting area for other participants, I was grouped with some Dutch nationals. A Filipina was married with one of them and she was living in The Netherlands for quite a while. The group was in a vacation; avoiding the winter in Europe.
They were quite happy to adopt me in their group. I was alone anyway and really need to join a group.
When we reached the start of the CDO white water rafting adventure, I needed to leave my bag in the jeepney that brought us there. The same jeepney will then travel at the end of the river downstream where our rafting will end as well.
It will all start with a safety briefing. I would suggest that you listen carefully and take in all the details especially for tourists you may not feel comfortable in the water.
Another necessary check was to make sure your equipment (e.g. vest and helmet) are well suited and comfortable to your body type.
The guides explained thoroughly the whole activity. We were informed of the notable sections of the river, some of the strong rapids that we need to prepare for, opportunities to get out of the boat and enjoy the calm current and of course to look out for their photographers stationed along the way.
Rafting was a very physical activity. This was more so for the lead rower. I opted out not to be one. Somehow I just wanted to enjoy the whole experience.
Despite being with the “foreign” group, our team was awesome. We get to enjoy being competitive with the other boat. Even the boat guides were able to crack jokes in English.
Our CDO white water rafting ended in a riverbank with a restaurant on it. You can buy souvenirs here. I saw our jeep, got my things and showered and changed clothes in the shower rooms provided by the restaurant. Our group decided not to eat lunch there.
Going back to Manila feeling some love and hospitality
What I did not planned for this trip was my experience with complete strangers.
They asked me if I want to have lunch with them. And they even assured me that they will just bring me to the airport. My flight was in the afternoon.
I did not expect this kind of hospitality. I have told them my story. Traveling solo on my birthday. Our lunch was not spectacular or anything (they are not expecting visitors anyway) but I enjoyed it really much. I was welcomed to their home. A vacation home they have built in CDO.
Their children were also all grown ups and already living on their own in The Netherlands. Somehow I have felt the love they give to their children. It was a very heart-warming experience indeed.