I'd always wanted to tick white water rating off my bucket list, and thanks to a very persistent street vendor in Kuta I finally had the chance to do so. And for $35AUD including return transfer (an hour each direction), shower and lunch at the end of the rafting, it was hard to pass up. There are several companies that operate along the same river, I opted to go with Bali Discovery Tours.
And I had a great time. The 12km river was challenging enough for a beginner like me, but not challenging to the point where I was too stressed out to have fun and soak it all in. There were plenty of hair-raising rapids, but also a few spots where the water was a bit calmer. I could see it being a little dull for those who have done it before. Still there were many spectacular views to take in on our two hours on the water including lush forests, tranquil waterfalls, monkeys jumping around in the trees.. Oh and the sight of several rafts colliding at bottleneck spots along the river. Luckily no one fell out of the raft except for this klutz reviewer, but everyone is equipped with a helmet and a life jacket so it's not overly dangerous. In fact it was quite hilarious!! The guide did a great job at pulling me back in asap. And to top off a wonderful few hours on the water, the several metre drop at the end over a dam wall. It was exhilarating. Check out the photo I attached with this review to see my reaction, and be glad that there's no audio to go with it... ;)
That's another positive of Bali Discovery Tours, they have photographers littered along the river snapping away. Yes, you do get to stop off at various points along the river for a quick drink and photo opportunities, but there's no way of getting photos of you in the midst of your white water rafting action, so having the opportunity to purchase photos at the end of the tour was a very pleasant surprise. And in my opinion they were reasonably priced - Around $15AUD for a disc containing roughly 20 photos of your adventure.
Despite having a very memorable day out, there were a few downers. The first one was a harsh reminder that you're in a third world country. There were children bathing alongside the river at two different occasions. Not something you really want to see when you're sharing the same water and will inadvertently swallow some of during the rapids.. But you're a guest in this country and that's just how they do things over there, so not much can be done about that. It's their way of life. Secondly was practically being begged for a tip at the end of the tour by the guide. I will tip if the service if great no matter where in the world I am, but don't respond well to being asked to tip. To have the guide share his sob story for a good few minutes as we were making our way back to the van to guilt us into slipping him a few thousand rupiah wasn't appreciated, and did put a slight downer on the day. Two of the girls in the group brought absolutely no cash with them as they had already paid in full and didn't want to lose anything in the rapids - a very valid reason to not bring money - and he had the nerve to call them tightarses under his breath. I'm sorry but that's not appropriate. He also expected us to buy him a beer or two at one of the pit stops. This might all sound a bit harsh, but it's something I feel that needs to be pointed out.
The previous paragraph aside, it was a fantastic day and something I encourage everyone who wants a bit of excitement to try out. Oh and just a forewarning to those considering to do this tour, there is a very steep climb at the end of the rafting. Roughly 200 steps up to an area where you can shower and enjoy lunch before you set off to climb another 150 odd steps to where your transport back to your hotel awaits. So be sure to conserve some of your energy from the rafting for this hike!!