Forget trekking in Bali’s tropical heat. Rafting the gentle Ayung River is a much more comfortable way to experience the lush landscape and natural beauty of ‘the island of the gods’. You can do the half day Bali Adventure Rafting tour as a day trip from pretty much anywhere in Bali but we stayed at Aria Villas Ubud for a couple of nights to avoid the two hour transfer each way.
While this didn’t save us any money as transfers are included in the cost of the tour, it did save us from an early morning wake up call. Any concerns we had about safety were quickly forgotten when we arrived at the slick rafting reception centre and saw the equipment. All of the gear was modern and well maintained and the cheerful local guides were confident professionals. If you are a rafting novice or travelling with older or younger family members, there is no need to be worried about the ‘vortexes of swirling and funneled waters, natural ramps and sudden drops in elevation and adrenaline pumping action’ mentioned on the website.
While there were plenty of small, fun rapids to keep us entertained, this was more of a relaxing float than a heart thumping adventure tour. After getting fitted out with helmets, life jackets and paddles, we walked down a flight of the stairs to the rafts which had previously been prepared by the guides. The Ayung River is the longest river in Bali and travels 75 km from the northern mountain ranges down to where it meets the ocean near Sanur. The tour covers just under 10 kms of its length and takes around 2 hours.
Despite the ongoing tourism development in and around Ubud, it’s not hard to imagine you are back in the ‘Bali of old’ as you float down the river surrounded by nothing but jungle. You don’t need to do much hard work as the river gently takes your raft on its journey. The only time we had to use our paddles was for steering down a few of the larger rapids and a little bit of paddling here and there. I wore thongs on our three hour tour but sports sandals or even some (old) sneakers would have been better as you have to get out of the rafts and walk near the beginning of the trip which was a little tricky in my slippery thongs. Another tip is bring some water into the raft with you as it can get hot out on the river in the sunny sections.
As you can see in the photo below, our family had an absolute ball. We got to cruise down the river and enjoy some beautiful scenery along the way. There was also time to have a quick swim, play under the waterfalls and look at some fancy resorts as we floated past them. We got to meet and have fun with other travellers from around the world too.
At the end of the rafting trip we stopped at another slick building, this time right beside the river, where we handed back our gear for cleaning and then walked up another set of stairs back to where we started. At the end of the tour you get a hot buffet lunch (included in the tour cost) at the restaurant above the rafting centre. If you think you’ve ‘done Bali’, this unique rafting tour might just change your mind.
Disclosure: The writer and her family paid for their rafting tour.
We’ve got plenty of hints and tips for travelling in Bali and also some great hotel and resort suggestions. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, we’ve reviewed the Ritz-Carlton Bali Resort, Peppers Seminyak Resort, Apurva Kempinski Bali, Bulgari Resort Bali, Aria Villas Ubud, Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort, The Mulia Bali, Merusaka Nusa Dua, Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort, Anantara Seminyak Bali, the InterContinental Bali for couples and those travelling with kids. We’ve compared the Singaraja and Club rooms at the InterContinental Bali and found the best luxury family hotels in Bali and the best honeymoon hotels in Bali.