Few words from Jared Meehan about this trip:
Some people find fulfillment in travelling to some sparkly resort, drinking cocktails and sitting around the hotel swimming pool. Personally I couldn’t think of anything more boring. I prefer to book my flights without the add-on luxury holiday package and whilst this saves a massive amount of money it also sets you up to experience the country without the western wrapping paper. I know this rough and rugged way of travelling doesn’t appeal to everyone but if you want to visit these places in Indonesia it’s the only way you should travel. We went to some of the most remote areas of Indonesia in order to paddle whitewater. The rivers and culture we experienced there were truly mind-blowing.
Six of us embarked on this journey to Indonesia to hunt down some of the country’s finest whitewater on Java and Sumatra. Eight Days into the trip we were down to only four members of the expedition. With monsoon rains as a daily event, humid, sauna like temperatures, a flurry of different religions and a wild culture, this trip wasn’t for the faint hearted.
We were very lucky to have the help and support of the Java based raft company called Arus Liar. They set us up with some of their top guides, very well equipped 4×4?s and took us directly to the best rivers they knew about. In some kind of way we were exploring new possible attractions in the area. The manager of Arus Liar saw this as a positive progression for his range of activities and therefore gave his support without which, we would have been far up shit creek.
We managed to get a couple of rivers done in the first few days of the trip, which set us up well. This gave us a good idea of what this place had to offer and also quickly and luckily made us aware of some of the dangers of this hostile environment. The aim to arrive in Indonesia at the tail end of the monsoon season had been slightly miss-judged and we enjoyed a daily deluge at 2pm sharp.
We paddled aptly on the second river, called Cibareno and had almost finished the day when I noticed some fishermen on the riverbanks, waving at us with worried faces as they all packed up their fishing gear. It was raining pretty hard and we got off the water and realized what they where trying to say. They knew that the river would rise after that amount of rain, but what we saw within the next 30 seconds was unreal. A wave of water came down the river, which rose from 30 to 300 cumecs. All of us looked at each other with raised brows as if to say ?we would have been dead if that happened 10 minutes earlier?!
After losing two of our trip members we made our way up to Sumatra. Sam Sutton flew home with eight rough stitches after slicing open his finger while trying to portage through the jungle with a razor sharp machete. Toby Robertson had to fly home due to the stresses of travelling in a third world country. However the remaining four were in for some great paddling and surfing. I can describe Java and Sumatra as a great creeking destination. Whilst having many rivers, one particular big volume river stands out as a world class paddling destination. I had been lucky enough to enjoy this river twice before a few years ago but I was quickly reminded how great it really is. With more volume than I had seen it before, we charged massive holes, perfect waves and breathed frustrating sighs to be paddling such a great play run in our creek boats. With some big un-run sections there is something for everyone on this river.
The last part of this trip involved a boat trip on a rusty old fishing boat. We packed the boat with all our gear and headed off to Pulau Banyak Islands, that boasted good waves, fishing and some attractive wildlife that we wanted to capture on our cameras. I have to admit that when I woke up, seeing blue water around some tiny islands with coconut trees, made me simply speechless. Saying it was beautiful just doesn?t quite do it justice. We spent hours swimming, fishing, surfing, drinking from coconuts and got some great shots of the wildlife.
It sounds like heaven! But to be honest it was still not easy travelling. The Pulau Banyak Islands are a diamond in a rough. Islamic law, tsunami and earthquake prone, severe malaria, minimal medical help, little or no English speaking people or facilities for travellers, which all make for an adventurous time. They say fortune favours the bold and this is a quote you should recite before you travel to Indonesia or any country in fact. Forget the hotels and swimming pools, step outside your comfort zone and come home with some real travelling stories. I assure you that you will have a much bigger smile on you flight home.
There are many people who have helped us out to make this trip possible: adidas, Lody and Arus Liar, Halim and Sumatra Savages and all the team members who stuck it out.