Rapids, rafts, and more rapids: Going on a Real Adventure
When someone says “river rafting” or “tubing adventure”, most people would think of places like Kalinga, Cagayan de Oro City, or Davao. What most of us don’t know, however, is that there is also a river in Real, Quezon—oftentimes overlooked and outshone by other nearby tourist destinations and by other towns in Quezon Province.
Along with fellow PHILTOA Quezon and Rizal Fam Tour Participants, we left Binangonan, Rizal early, and headed to Real, Quezon.
This is the story of my adventure in Real, Quezon, an old-fashioned, elegant coastal paradise in the middle of the urban world.
I originally did not intend to join the River rafting adventure because I was previously underprepared and sleepless. I was, however, pressured because I was the only participant who wanted to skip the rafting activity the following day. Being pressured, and being the traveler and adventurer that I am, I changed my mind last minute. And I don’t regret changing my mind one bit.
When the group arrived in Real, we all proceeded to barangay Tanauan, our assigned jump off point to the river banks. We had to trek for 10 minutes downward from the highway. The trek down was not too difficult, as the path was already paved, probably because the path was frequently used by locals, alongside the trees.
When we got to the edge of the river, we were warmly welcomed by the locals, who gave us a short introduction to the rafting adventure, as well as a quick rundown of safety rules. We were not given paddling instructions (unlike most white water rafting adventures), and we were told that all we needed to do was “effortlessly” sit on the raft.
Each raft was able to accommodate a total of five people, including two local paddlers who also served as our lifeguards and tour guides. There was one paddler at each end of the raft to control and tame the raft during the ride.
With that set aside, we all got to our respective boats and hanged on tightly, and breathed deeply as we slowly trekked down the river!
What I found rather unique about that adventure of mine was that it was not exactly rafting, where the participants were the ones paddling. It was not exactly tubing either, where the participants are required to sit on a tube or an inflated tire. My adventure in Real was more of like a combination of rafting and tubing: inflated tire tubes were tied together in a wooden frame to make an improvised floating device, while all we needed to do was sit down, hang on to the wooden frame, and go to where the rapids took us!
While we participants were hanging on for dear life and screaming and laughing, our paddlers and tour guides calmly told us the history of the river rafting adventure in Real. We were told that the improvised rafts were originally used to transport illegal timber but after a destructive flood that hit barangay Tanauan in 2004, they stopped the illegal logging practice and decided to make a livelihood that was pro-nature. And thus came the Real Adventure we were in. It was nice thinking about how these former kaingeros decided to change their ways in response to nature’s wrath. I was glad to know that there’s hope for everyone to change.
After the rapids and bumpy, curvy, splashy ride down the river, our raft eventually slowed and calmed when we reached the shallow waters. It gave us a chance to appreciate the beautiful scenery as we gradually moved forward.
In the middle of the rafting tour, our tour guides stopped us at a junction, at a connecting river mouth. We were given the choice to trek to the “nearby” Bagumbong Falls. Visiting the falls is an optional package, and it wasn’t originally part of our itinerary for the day, but when our tour guides told us that the falls was “just 10 minutes” from the river mouth, we were all gladly convinced. After all, we might as well make the most out of our trip.
We agreed to make the “short”, “10 minute” trek… but we learned our lesson: when the locals say that the trek is “short” or that the trek will just take “10 minutes”, they say that because they are already used to the trek. In all actuality, the trek did not last for just 10 minutes, and it was not, by all means, “short”!
Nevertheless, we all enjoyed our fun trek to Bagumbong Falls. Our stay in the falls was very brief, but we got to play in the rock pools, swims, and got a massage from the heavy waterfalls!
After “shortly” trekking back to the river mouth, we headed back to the river bank. We got ourselves some fresh coconut juice before continuing with our unfinished river adventure.
We encountered four wild rapids on the way. It was fun hanging on, and even if the sound of the gushing rapids were louder than our screams, awes, and laughter, it was a very fun boat ride down the river.
Our river rafting adventure lasted for about 1.5 hours and ended at Tignoan bridge, where we all felt so successful for surviving the rapids that we had to scream our lungs out like children.
Our tour guides told us that the river is wilder during the months of July to January, but the rapids are generally enjoyable even during the summer. I can’t wait to experience the river rapids again come rainy season, where, we were told, the rapids are the wildest.
If you’re looking for a wild adventure and hate long bus rides or expensive flight tickets, then Real Quezon should be your best pick.
How to get to Real Quezon?
Real Quezon is just three to four hours from Manila. If you want to travel using public transportation, your best choice should be Raymond Bus in Legarda, which travels from Manila to Real Quezon and vice versa.