Thursday, July 4, 2013

What's Italian for Whitewater?: Rafting the Lao (7/1/13)

Urvi and I rafting away!

Trip: Lao River
Distance: 12 km (245 meters of vertical drop)
Time: 1:40:00
Sights: Pollino National Park, Papasidero, Canyons, Waterfalls/Fosses/Slaps

Perhaps the two biggest things I’ve always wanted to do that I have never done are whitewater rafting and skydiving.  In nearly 40 years, I’ve always said, I want to go rafting and in nearly 40 years everyone has said, yeah, we’ll do that sometime.

Well, Urvi was willing to actually do it rather than just say yeah, we’ll do that sometime.

In the beautiful National Park Pollino in the mountains outside Scalea, the outfit Rafting Yahoooo runs great trips: Medium, Advanced, Family and All Day.  Urvi and I signed up for “Medio” which requires you be at least 8 years old.  Well, we have the ability and courage of 8 year olds.


Rafting Yahooo picked us up at our hotel and drove us 30 minutes up into the mountains.  We got to the camp area and the driver had to go wake up the guides… Once they got there and we made a change into wetsuits, we were off for another half hour drive even further into the mountains and the National Park.  We helped carry the raft into the water – right on a rushing rapid.

The stroke of rafting is very similar to the dragon boat stroke rather than say a canoe one: extend the body forward with the paddle vertical.  Then sit up as you pull the paddle vertical through the water.  Stephen, our guide-driver, spoke very little English.  Mainly: “forward”, “backpaddle” and “stop.”  With the professional guide and the fast river, it isn’t as much paddling as kayaking or canoeing.

But it is like an interval workout.  You go through reasonably quite bits, almost just floating, admiring the beautiful canyons and mountains and trees of Italy’s largest national park.  Then WHAM! a rapid approaches and Stephan is saying “Forward!”  and madly Urvi and I are paddling for a minute or so.  The boat is bounding through the waves and dips and splashing us and the boat.  Then on the other side: “STOP”

Back to admiring beautiful canyons and mountains and trees of Italy’s largest national park.

Even with stops at beautiful waterfalls and the floating through nature – it was still finished all too quickly.  Thanks to Urvi for indulging me and Rafting Yahoooo.

Chasing waterfalls

Now, who’s up for some skydiving?

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