White water rafting : Paddling towards an adventure
Donning a life jacket, wearing a helmet, picking up a colourful paddle, my family and I joined two Netherlanders, Eric and Anita and their guide Sarath on a white water ride down the Kelani river in the Kitulgala area.
With a briefing by our rafting guide Raja (an experienced lifeguard trained specially for rafting) our boat was in the water. We being, novice rafters had to follow our guide’s instructions carefully: “Hard paddle! Right side back paddle, Forward” he droned.
Our course included several rapids ‘Killer falls’ (not a single life had been lost here) and ‘butter crunch’. It is a name given by Channa Perera, the owner of Rafter’s Retreat to make the visitors more curious.
“Forward. forward,” called Raja as we rowed in forward strokes. We had been instructed to hold onto the thick, strong rope on the side of the rafts when the “Hold on” instruction was given and we had to keep aside the paddle and cling on to the rope at the first sound of the words.
We came to our first rapid… We bounced up and down for several minutes (with the water pouring in and the heavy sound of rushing water in our ears.) Within a few minutes we were in a calm stretch of water. Next we came upon ‘butter crunch’ and ‘killer falls’ with some members of the group, who had swallowed a lot of water when the boat bounced up and down, laughing somewhat triumphantly at the accomplishment of having reached this far.
Then we came to a calm stretch and continued our journey downstream stopping at the site of David Lean’s classic film ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ film (1957). Thereafter, we passed a swing bridge and came to the pick up site on the banks. Within a few minutes, we were at Rafter’s Retreat, the organisers of the white water rafting.