The Telaga Waja River in East Bali is a favourite ‘class II and III’ rapid that is perfect for those looking for adventure in the Bali outback, with moderate difficulty and various natural and cultural highlights along its 14km course. It is a great way for families and friends to spend a day out on inflatable rafts carrying up to four, and to experience a different side of Bali. This course lets you immerse yourself in the green valley surroundings of Rendang village with fresh mountain air, occasional sightings of wild exotic birds and pure excitement.
The river is a two-hour ride from Kuta and Denpasar, located amongst a hilly region in the Karangasem regency. The name of the valley and river, Telaga Waja, means ‘steel pond’ in Balinese, owing to the once steady flow of red-hot lava resembling molten steel from the past eruption of Mount Agung. The name aptly fits the current day rafting, as Telaga Waja is indeed Bali’s most challenging river course. The solidified volcanic emission transformed into an assortment of magnificent boulders now scattered over its paddies and riverbeds.
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Various tour companies operate along this river, each with different starting and finish points. Generally, you start early in the morning towards the base at Rendang village, just before 10:00 when your expedition kicks off. Concealed from the main road, the valley is down a narrow flight of stairs. Upon arrival at the base of operations, you are divided into groups of no more than four each, and a professional guide will hand out all your rafting equipment for the day—helmets, life jackets and paddles. A safety briefing and paddling practice session ensues.
As in any paddling sport, you are an effective part of the crew, working as a team under the command of the guide who mainly navigates at the rear end of the raft. Everyone paddles. Our guide told us the basics. Commands, shouted over the roar of rushing water, include “Forward!”, “Back-paddle!” and, “Stop!” Along the way, the raft encounters certain obstacles. “Duck!” requires everyone to lower their heads to avoid log and thatched bamboo bridges or rogue branches along the way. A boulder in the stream occasionally lodges the raft in mid-action, bringing all to a complete halt. In this case, the command is, “Shake your bon bons!” or “Rock the boat!” Of course everyone enjoys shouting along to Ricky Martin’s tune.
Telaga Waja Rafting
- Location: Telaga Waja River, Rendang Village, Karangasem, East Bali