White water rafting on the Rio Manso, Day 85

white water rafting on the Rio Manso, Argentina

This is not my first experience of white water rafting, but what baffles me is why I continue to do it.  Be it in Maine (USA), Australia, or the Zambezi in Zimbabwe (which Christi and I did together), my experiences have had two things in common: class V rapids and long swims.  Perhaps today will be the day I finally get to stay in the raft, but I’m not comforted by the fact that, Christi aside, my team mates are all rafting virgins.

From Bariloche, it’s two hours by minibus along increasingly dilapidated tracks before we literally reach the end of the road.  Our base is fairly rustic, comprising a couple of rambling cabins, some outdoor toilets, and plenty of rafting equipment: wetsuits, windbreakers, helmets, life jackets, paddles, and of course the rafts themselves.  I’ve never worn a wetsuit while rafting before, so the water must be damned cold (another reason to avoid an unscheduled dip). Rafting Adventure – Video 

Christi and I are photographed in our new togs beside the stunning green waters of the Rio Manso and then we stumble awkwardly into our raft.  There are six of us plus our guide, Geronimo (his name, alone, sounds far too gung-ho for my liking).  Geronimo takes us out onto the water and we go through the various maneuvers we’ll need, including back left, front right and the unsettling hold on for dear life.  It’s 40 minutes to the first rapid so there’s ample time to practice – we generate a lot of foam, but not much momentum – and for the nerves to begin to tingle.  But then, as we get closer, we can hear the ferocious noise of the rapids and see the mountainous white water rise up in front of us, all the while Geronimo is screaming instructions as he attempts to navigate a safe passage despite our bumbling efforts to help.  The next 40 minutes is action time – mostly easy rapids, but there are three class IV rapids with suitably spine-chilling names: Deep Throat, Devil’s intestines, and Ecstasy (presumably it’s ecstasy if you survive it).  And amazingly, if you do hit the rapid correctly you shoot straight through with only a surge of adrenalin (and no lungful of river water) to savor.  When not shuddering through white water, the gorge of the Rio Manso and the surrounding misty, snow-capped mountains are quite spectacular.  It’s a thrill simply to experience nature at its most majestic – and to experience it all from the comfort of a raft – yay! 

Blog post by Roderick Phillips, author of Weary Heart – a gut-wrenching, heart-wrenching, laugh-wrenching tale.

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