I was really excited to do something ACTIVE after spending a few days being the only person on the island of Utila who wasn’t diving..! I had read up about the Jungle River Lodge in La Ceiba and decided to go there straight after I got off the early morning ferry back to the mainland.
The taxi from the port cost 50 lempira and brought me directly to the Banana Republic Guesthouse in La Ceiba on Avenida la Republica, which is a sister hostel to the Jungle River Lodge. From there, I arranged to go rafting that day and was brought out to the jungle by jeep free of charge. The rafting trip would take 2 and a half hours and the cost of that, including a night’s stay in the jungle lodge was $40.
After about 25 minutes in the jeep, we arrived at the lodge which is situated right on the Río Cangrejal with stunning views over the river and jungle. The lodge was pretty quiet, with only a few other guests and I was told that while the dorm was being cleaned I could have a bite to eat and the rafting trip would go ahead that afternoon, as there was an American couple there who would also go on the trip but they were ziplining in the morning.
It actually worked out that I had the dorm room with bathroom to myself that night (I think it was a ten or twelve bed dorm), which was great! There was an American couple and two girls from Canada staying at the lodge but they both had private rooms. The lunch was basic, just rice, beans and vegetables ($5). The dinner later that evening was a lot nicer, with fish, avocado and rice with veggies ($7). They basically have you over a barrel here food-wise as there is nowhere to buy food nearby so come prepared!
After a relaxing morning, just after lunch we got ready for our river rafting adventure! Myself, Jason and Nicola got kitted out in helmets and life jackets and after a brief (!) safety talk from our guide Juan, we were ready to hit the rapids!
Firstly we jumped on the back of the truck, tied the raft on top and were brought about 2/3 of the way upriver. The truck then brought the raft half-way down where we would meet it later as the first half of the tour we hiked upriver! It was quite the adventure, climbing over boulders and swimming through parts of the rapids (almost flying downstream) and then rock-jumping! I had read in some reviews that this was involved in the tour, but I wasn’t really ready for it! The places where we had to jump off were slippy and quite high, our guide Juan basically would say a few words to us such as ‘Okay, we’re going to jump off here and make sure you don’t jump there (pointing to a space in the water RIGHT beside where he told us to jump) otherwise you’re going to hit rocks and really hurt yourself, okay, GO!’
Needless to say, I had visions of slipping and cracking my skull off the rocks below, only to fly downstream through the rapids. But Jason and Nicola were great and very encouraging so they definitely helped me overcome my fears. I drew the line at one of the highest points, where we had to run and jump off the rocks, and as I was already slipping just standing still waiting to jump, I decided to crawl down to a lower point and jump off from there. Had to be done! Once we were finished with hiking and jumping, we then floated downstream, climbing out at certain points and jumping off again to float downstream, all the while trying not to inhale water as we slid down the rapids. Phew!
At the halfway point, we finally reached the raft and got into the business of actually river rafting! It was so much fun, I had only done it once before (ten years ago!) in Salzburg, and I really enjoyed it so I was excited to get into the raft. The rapids ranged from level 2 to 4 and were pretty steep in parts, but thankfully noone fell out and had to be rescued. As we reached near the lodge, there was a final rock jump adventure. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do it, but as the others were all going for it, I thought what the hell! It was about an 8 metre drop (!) and again, our guide Juan, briefly explained to us that as it was such a steep drop we couldn’t dive in as we would seriously hurt ourselves on impact so we had to ‘just step off!’. He made it look SO easy.
Obviously, I was the last to jump, being that my legs wouldn’t stop shaking in enough time for me to go before the others! Finally at the top of the rock, Juan counted to three and I just went for it! Naturally, I went down ass-first and got quite the slap when I reached the water. OUCH! It was fine though, and save for a few bruises on my thighs (!) I was just delighted I managed to do it!
We rafted further downriver for a bit until we reached the end of our adventure. It was a great experience but scary! I had actually read in my Lonely Planet that a few deaths had been reported from that tour operator (!) but I had thought that this was associated with what they called their ‘aggressive ziplining tour’. Jason & Nicola had done the ziplining in the morning and according to them, the rafting was MUCH scarier and a lot more dangerous than the ziplining. Oh well, at least we didn’t become another statistic!