By Dian Hasan | September 19, 2009
Move over Amazon & Costa Rica, Indonesia is the new adventure travel destination. Rugged and unspoiled, awaiting the world’s adrenaline junkies seeking Extreme Adventure! Hurry, before the cat’s out of the bag!
It’s a mixed blessing for Indonesia that’s attempting seriously to develop itself into a formidable travel destination in the region, as tourism is a long-term development that requires deep long-term strategy of attaining the right balance between Profit, People, and Planet. Ensuring enough basic infrastructure investment and deep-pocket tourism promotional dollars spurned by the Government, would attract private investors to develop the facilities, while benefiting the local economy and not endangering the environment that tourism touches. For now though, let Indonesia shine through her greatest gift to the modern traveler: the planet’s ultimate adventure destination. And that may not be an overstatement. We’ll look at how others – mostly adventure travelers – are enjoying Indonesia, her intoxicating natural beauty, her oft impenetrable wilderness, and the indelible culture of her warm-hearted people. Here’s a look at Extreme Kayaking in West Java, as appeared in Playak.
OLAF OBSOMMER and a team of kayak celebrities traveled 3 weeks through Sumatra / Java in search of the wild.
I talked with Jared Meehan preparing the expedition: ” Man, we need jeeps… roads on Sumatra are no highways ! – Plus, there is not much known about rivers down here – I don’t want to end up hacking ourselves through the jungles for days or weeks – just to find out the river is unrunnable… so what we do ? ”
Then an idea came into my tropical sun-fried mind: ” Maybe LODI can help ! “- Lodi Korua is the manager from ARUS LIAR – indonesia’s most successful Whitewater Rafting Company – he’s the one who has seen most rivers in this part of Asia and always in for pioneering stuff. – Lodi was ‘ fire and flame’ for the expedition: ” YES, Arus Liar will support Your tour – how many Landrovers You need ? ”
Arrival in JAKARTA – perfect service from ARUS LIAR alias LODI
We were brought from JAKARTA airport to ARUS LIAR basecamp at CITARIK river in Westjava. While there’s just a handful of whitewater kayakers in Indonesia, Rafting has become a sport that is enjoyed by many Indonesians.
ARUS LIAR basecamp at CITARIK – lots of bamboo and other natural material is used for the campsite
Next day was the first of looong drives through remote parts of Westjava / Banten province. The river Lodi came up with is called CIBARENO – but more appropriate it should be CibaRAINo. The way down to the river took 45 minutes – half of it under burning sun, half of it in tropical rain… The weather changes extremely fast in tropics and with it waterlevels. Filming on that day was not possible but all paddlers came back with a big smile – for Tomass Marvic from Latvia is was the first time to paddle warm water.
The second river the team was to run was the CIMADUR – all information again was from Lodi who tried a couple of years ago to raft this river but gave up before a gorgesection. The evacuation of his raft and gear took several days with the aid of local people.
Good weather for a change, everybody in the best spirit BUT…
… as it turned out, CIMADUR also called out for the first victims of our expedition: Sam Sutton cut his finger with a machete while clearing a path, the blade slipping from the bamboo… 7 stitches in a local hospital – the expedition was over for him, – wounds heal very slow in these humid conditions. Toby Robertson fainted on the way out of the canyon – overheating and dehydration is a real problem in the tropics.
Next day: the team fit again and ready to go…
At least Toby could continue the next day to finish this first descent and jump the CIMADUR waterfall…
Just two minutes after the last of us had left the river, a flashflood swept over the rocks where we had been standing just a few minutes before ! Another reminder of how fast waterlevels in tropics can rise where the rain can start as sudden and heavy as nowhere else on the planet…
above: a few minutes later the flashflood would have swept Jared off the rocks…
Within one week the Big O – expedition paddled two rivers and had a look on a waterfall which turned out to be turned off – or so to say : the about 25 m high fall was just a trickle – not to think about jumping this fall:
We have been prepared that filming of kayaking in unknown territory including first descents of rivers would be timeconsuming. The weather in Java and rough roadconditions played their own part for delays. However, the exotic scenery of Java and the friendliness of the local communities we met on the way made the tour worth it. Another thanks / TERIMA KASIH to LODI at this point for his outstanding support and hospitality. SAMPAI JUMPA LAGI !
rice paddies in CIMADUR valley
What I did when the ‘ stars’ where fighting for their survival :
Text and photos: Halim