I’ve always loved being in and around water. The river near where I grew up, The Cotton River ran alongside Linear Park in Bangor, mind you it wasn’t one to be swimming in. Though Belfast Lough and the Irish Sea nearby were both decent spots for waves and summer dips. Fast forward to January 2011 and I was staying with my mate Rodrigo in Sao Paulo, the biggest city in Brazil (if not the world). The option came up to head way out of the city one Sunday to a remote mountain village by the name of Juquitiba to go white water rafting! I was in like Flynn having totally enjoyed my white water rafting experience three years earlier in Bled, Slovenia.
It was an early start. Around 5 am I think we met at the Cultural Centre in Sao Paulo.
Rodrigo’s mate Jonah (wearing the Brazil shirt above) was the driver of our car, and we would have 3 cars for the day, for the 2 and a half hour drive out to Juquitiba. This was actually the final adventure on my 3 month jaunt round South America so it was a very enjoyable and fitting end to a blissful time of travel for me. Indeed after Antarctica itself, South America and Africa would be joint second in my travel trip highlights thus far in life.
There were 5 of us in Jonah’s car, including myself and Rodrigo. I cannot remember the names of the other two guys. Sao Paulo is of course a “monster” and even navigating our way out of the city took time. There was time for a quick well needed coffee stop until we entered sparse Brazilian countryside.
I probably drifted to sleep for some of the car journey, which saw us arrive at a place called CANOAR, the name of the company we were rafting with. All this happened in a place called Juquitiba.
The Canoar entrance in Juquitiba.
The rafts and canoes at Canoar.
Early morning loading up the rafts.
Our group for the briefing. Everyone loves football in Brazil – even 2 shirts in our small group. Given, everyone was from Brazil and I was the only foreigner in our raft.
Reception. Portuguese may not be as hard to learn as you think!
We had to sign in and sign our life away to Canoar for about 6 hours…
My attire was just shocking! A Parramatta Eels top, Northern Ireland football shorts, grey socks and cheap black plimsols. Not one for a fashion contest, but I was raring to go.
The tropical nature of Brazil. Banana trees growing in the dense forest by the river.
A bus took us to the starting point, some 7 – 8 kilometres away I think.
There was also the chance to play volleyball which we did for a bit on our return. Volleyball and football – national obsessions in Brazil. The world’s greatest footballing nation (5 World Cups and counting…)
The murky brown river we would be rafting down, back to base.
Another view of the river at the end point. After this I locked my camera away (luckily!) and we got a cameraman to follow us and take photos. For this reason none of the photos below were taken by me, but I’m in a fair few of them. For once on this blog, there will not be a lot of writing, here’s the pictures of the amazing white water rafting in Juquitiba. By the way in case you are wondering, the river was also called the River Juquitiba!
There were over 50 rafters that day in different rafts and starting at different times. There wasn’t actually much clashing once we got in the water. It was well organised I have to say.
Couple more shots from the briefing. I’m in there somewhere.
The bus that took us from the lockers and changing area (and finishing point later) to the starting point.
Fixing the rafts ready for action.
Our raft team of January 2011 having fun down the rapids!
The Juquitiba River is just perfect for rafting, more rapids here as we veer down these mini waterfalls.
Nobody was speaking in English of course, as we are in Portuguese speaking Brazil so I had to know the basic words in Portuguese that were relevant to the rafting…
“French” (as its pronounced) means forward. It is written “Frente” so that was an important one to know, pronunciation was key, spelling was not.
“Peezo” means duck (as in duck down rather than the bird – important for dodging stray branches of trees and the like!). I think it may be spelt Piso.
“Segura” means safety, similar to the English word secure so that was an easy one to remember.
When the currents were strong and the raft was turning there was a need to row backwards. So I picked up the word “hot” to mean row backwards. It was a mixture of hut and hot in terms of pronunciation.
It was also essential to be able to count to three as we had a team command line! Something like one, two, three, go our team! Maybe it was uno, dos, tres, amigo equipe! (or something like that).
Enjoying the currents. This was better and stronger than the river in Slovenia.
Oars up for our team salute.
View from our raft.
More exciting rapids and yes we got soaked so leaving the camera behind was a great idea. I was sure I would bring it, but Rodrigo told me not to and he was right.
This section, again all photos by our photographer was probably the best bit – a spiral of a few quick drops!
A nice distanced shot showing the immense forest and trees in behind. Aside from the rowing and rafting on the river, the landscape was exotic and wonderful.
Getting drenched ready for the steepest drop of the day!
I just love this photo as the rest of my team are all hidden underwater or in the waves and splashes. I was at the back of the raft for most of the trip and you can see I was the last one to get wet, Just after this was taken I was also right in the cool waters of the Juquitiba River!
We’re all wet now!
Rafting in Slovenia near Lake Bled, the temperature and climate was cold and I remember we all had full wet suits that day. Here T-shirts and shorts were enough. It was hot and the cool waters were refreshing rather than shivering! There were a few similarities though such as hard hat, life jacket and straps for your feet.
Towards the end.
Our team relaxing.
Swaying from side to side.
I think we capsized just the once – this may have been in. Swimming in the water was very refreshing even if I did wonder what sort of animals lived nearby. Snakes and crocodiles being the two scariest ones for me.
The photos are fab, thanks to Rodrigo for organising to send them on. You can see how much fun we were having!
We safely made it back to base – the last stretch of water was very calm and smooth but still with a slight current. It also started to pour down on our way back adding to the wonder of the rainforests in behind.
Our team! Of the seven in the photo, I only know that second left is Rodrigo, second right is Jonah and I’m at the bottom right.
Our team poses by a sign at a tree. I didn’t understand it so stared at the camera instead!
Down the final stretch.
And Bam! That was it. We arrived back at the base where we began (i.e. where we got the bus from)
And the final group photo. Says it all – a fantastic day. Thanks to Rodrigo for the invite, to Jonah for the drive up there, Canoar for their organisation and Rodrigo again for the amazing experiences in Sao Paulo, and in particular this day out to Juquitiba!
Who Went – Jonny, Rodrigo, Jonah, Andrea (a girl from the other group I remembered) and a host of others
Nationalities Who Went – Brazilian, Northern Irish
Languages Spoken – Portuguese
Strange Currencies – Brazilian Reals
My Videos –
DRIVING FROM SAO PAULO TO JUQUITIBA FOR THE WHITE WATER RAFTING PART 1:
DRIVING FROM SAO PAULO TO JUQUITIBA FOR THE WHITE WATER RAFTING PART 2:
GETTING READY FOR THE WHITE WATER RAFTING AT JUQUITIBA:
DRIVING THROUGH SAO PAULO BY DAY AFTERTHE WHITE WATER RAFTING:
SOMEONE ELSE’S VIDEO OF RAFTING IN JUQUITIBA:
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About Jonny Blair
I'm Jonny Blair, a travelling Northern Irishman. Since leaving my hometown a decade ago I have managed to visit over 100 countries and over 600 towns or cities across all 7 continents. Along the way I have worked in countless jobs! Join my journey on Don't Stop Living - a lifestyle of travel as I provide you with tips and inspiration to live your travel dreams! Safe travels! Follow me on Jonny Blair Google Plus