Tarlac for me, and probably for many Manileneos has always been “that place along McArthur Highway you pass to get to Baguio.” It never occurred to me that in that big expanse of land between Pampanga and Pangasinan would be the potential for adventure spots yet undiscovered. One such adventure is Whitewater Kayaking.
I first became aware of this just a few days ago with a Facebook message from my niece suggesting we try out. She led me to this page on FB https://www.facebook.com/RAPIDSTREAM. From there I sent them e-mail and quikly got a reply. I made a booking for party of five which included my sister, my two nieces, and my grandnephew.
Here’s a quick look at the salient points in their e-mail to me:
The Rapid Stream whitewater kayaking package is PHP 1800 per person and includes equipment rental, river guide fee, snack and native organic meal.
Typically, groups will meet at our site (also the take out point) in San Jose, Tarlac at 9am where we then do a safety briefing. From there we take jeepneys up to the put in site in a small mountain town called Maamot (about 30 min drive). It takes us about 3 hours to kayak the 12.5 km stretch of river. Lunch is then served upon our arrival at the Rapid Stream site.
8 years old is our minimum age. No maximum weight. Payment can be cash on arrival.
Note: This day was just totally awesome. I took some really fantastic pictures with my waterproof camera… of which I could not share with you because the camera is somewhere at the bottom of the Camiling River. Photos here are from my iPhone. More on this later.
We booked ourselves for the 9am trip. We left Manila at around 6:30am. My sister and I were contemplating the trip as it was raining in Manila at around 5am. Using the simple logic “just because its raining here, doesn’t mean its raining there” along with “just because its raining now doesn’t mean it will be raining later” and of course a quick check of the weather on the internet. We decided to push through with it. And incidentally, the weather, though overcast, was great.
It took us just an hour and a half to get to Tarlac City, finding Rapid Stream was a bit of a challenge. Apparently the Bing Map on their Facebook “Location” wasn’t to Rapid Stream itself, but to a meeting point where someone was supposed to wait for us guide us through. Nonetheless, we spent the next hour driving straight with the help of a phonecall and some directions.
We got to Rapid Stream just a little after 9am with the whole group already there.
After a while we go a jeep for the 30 minute trip to our jump off point where we would get on the boats and start the adventure.
Pictured above is me and my sister who didn’t do any paddling. She left the paddling to me and our guide.
If you are a novice, don’t fret. Each boat has its own guide, which means that you won’t be paddling by yourself.
The whole trip took around 3 hours from the time we started. The whole adventure was certainly simply awesome. While paddling we stopped at several spots where you could jump of rocks and into the river. As you paddle your way down the river one could appreciate the fantastic scenery of Tarlac… with Carabaos staring at you as you float by you.
I took several great photos along the way. But alas… I have none to show you. My waterproof Sony Cybershot was in my vest’s front pocket for convenience. Since the ride was tame enough. Then we reached a point they had named the “Washing Machine” where were given the option for the “safe route” or to go through Washing Machine itself.
All went well, but as we were traversing the “safe” route our boat hit a stalled boat and so we turned over.
The moment I got out of the water, I happened to glance at my chest and noticed that my camera (and my water bottle) were no longer on my vest pocket. (The photo above is that said location)
Oh well. Had I known, I would have secured the camera in my hands or in my pockets.
While we waited for the rest to come through the path and fall in in the process… I pondered over my lost camera. Not so much with the camera itself, but the photos of the day’s trip. “Sayang”
Making up for lost time… and photos, I carefully took out my iPhone from my drybag and took a few shots.
Above are my nieces Leah and Kitkat and my grandnephew Ziggy having a blast as the guides brought them through the washing machine. My niece Kitkat was wailing like it was the end of the world… she had fun.
That’s my sister in the distance in the middle of the pic. She had drifted a little further before being rescued by the guides after our boat turned over.
My niece had fun as she watched us turn over in the water… hehe
Me at “the spot”
Despite my loss… and I really didn’t feel to bad about it… it was an awesome day! My nephew uttered the words to his manong guide “BEST SUNDAY EVER!”
We reached the end. We landed just outside the Rapid Stream site where the cars were parked. We had a late lunch, then we headed back to Manila shortly after.
I’ll say it again… this was an AWESOME ADVENTURE! This is certainly a “must try” for the adventure seekers out. And if you want to do this. Do it soon… while its still there.
According to Christian Yap, one of the owners of Rapid Stream (during a brief time he took over as our guide) the government plans to put a dam in 2013. If that happens the Barangay where Rapid Stream will find itself and many other towns underwater. The price of progress I guess.
This was certainly an eye opener to me to some of the potential lakwatsas in Tarlac. This inspires me to seek them out. Keep your eye out for this new site (still being built) called Visit Tarlac (http://visittarlac.com) for list of other things to do in Tarlac.
For more information on Rapid Stream, look them up on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RAPIDSTREAM
Detail directions to the site are found in a map here: http://www.visittarlac.com/?p=183