Whitewater Kayaking in San Jose
While most would choose to sit out the rains and heed to PAGASA’s constant warning of looming tropical storms and depressions, Tarlaqueños or those lucky enough to know about this rainy day tradition goes whitewater kayaking in San Jose, Tarlac.
Luckily, we’re one of those fortunate ones.
Roughly 30 minutes outside the city proper and just a few kilometers before reaching the famed Monasterio de Tarlac, my friends and I assembled at Rapidstream’s headquarters in Brgy. Iba, San Jose at around 9 in the morning.
There, we were given a brief talk on the basics of paddling, a run-through of activities throughout the trip and of course, some safety precautions for when we get in the water.
If you still don’t know scrap about what you’re getting yourself into, fret not. Before hopping in the raft and after a short jeepney ride to the jumpoff point, you will each be assigned a guide to look after you and paddle for you even after your arms have decided to give up.
It started out as an easy cruise along the scenic river with just the clear skies above us and the mountains welcoming us to an embrace. Some occasional rocks but overall the mood was calm and relaxed.
A few minutes later, we were holding on for dear life! With the river in constant mood swings, we were riding waves upon waves of whitewater praying hard not to capsize. After a while we got the hang of it, wished for more rapids even!
Halfway through the trip, we stopped by for our light merienda (inclusive of the package) and tried our hands on stone jumping and surfing. Yes, surfing! It’s where you go against the current and paddle for your life with the goal of staying in that same spot for as long as you can, fighting off the incoming whitewater. Trust me, it will DEFINITELY test your upper body strength!
Have I peeked your interest yet? Here’s a short highlight video of our trip just to give you an idea of what you can expect from the trip.
When can I schedule a trip?
Unfortunately, kayaking in Tarlac is seasonal. They run trips mostly during the rainy season when water level in the river goes up and rapids go wild. Best time to schedule a trip would be right after a storm or after/during a rainy week.
What is the minimum and maximum number of people that they can accommodate?
Rapid Stream entertains trips for a minimum of five people to a maximum of 35.
How to get there?
Going there via public transport can be quite tricky since the site is not in the city proper. Luckily, pickup at the bus terminal can be easily arranged for an extra charge by coordinating your trip here. All you have to do now is to hop in any northbound bus heading for Baguio, Dagupan or Bolinao and go down at Tarlac City.
If you’re going there via private transport:
View Driving directions to Rapid Stream in a larger map
If at one point you get lost, just ask the friendly locals for directions to Barangay Iba where the kayaking site is. Signage is a little small but the dirt road leading to the site can be found on the left side literally right before a bridge.
The standard package costs Php1,800 inclusive of gear and equipment, guide, a light snack and an all natural lunch. A 10% discount can also be availed for groups of 10-35.
Further discounts apply for Tarlaqueños! Inquire here.
What do I need to bring?
You will be kayaking during the day so it’s best (and most important!) to bring a sunscreen to keep you protected. Also, you might want to bring:
- Wet gear i.e. clothes and shoes you wouldn’t mind getting drenched;
- Hat for sun protection and;
- Waterproof bags for your cameras, gadgets and other important things.
How strong are the rapids and is it safe?
Kayaking in San Jose with it’s Class I to II rapids is perfect for beginners. More advanced adrenaline junkies or those who’ve gone through the initial tours are welcome to test the bolder rapids in Mayantoc, a town right after San Jose.
As for safety, no worries. You will be given a set of safety gear and instructions prior to getting on the boat. Also, you will have a guide dedicated to watching over you, just you. Unlike other kayaking trips where you ride and paddle as a group, they use inflatable rafts that are designed to hold a maximum of three persons, including guide. So basically, the ratio of guest to guide is 1:1 to 1:2 which ensures maximum safety since manong has only you to keep track of.
Warning though, your boat might capsize and you might just like it!
Other important things you should note:
- Parking – For those bringing private vehicles, parking is available on site.
- Walk-ins – Trips are by appointment only so walk-ins will not be entertained.
- Reception – Cellphone reception tends to fluctuate around the area so it’s best to notify your loved ones and friends beforehand.
For more details and inquiries, click here.
All photos and video posted are property of Russel Patalinghog.