A guide to white water rafting rivers in Bali: Ayung or Telaga Waja?

Which river to choose?

If you are planning a trip to Bali, or you’re already there, you don’t want to miss going white water rafting!! It’s honestly one of the best experiences of being on this beautiful island and I’d like to share some general information with you about what you can expect, as well as a guide to the 2 main rivers: Telaga Waja and the Ayung Rivers.

Rafting in Bali, Indonesia, review of Telaga Waja and Ayung rivers

General advice when going white water rafting in Bali

With all the things I’m going to tell you, only one thing is for certain, and that is that every trip will be completely different. This will depend on a number of things, such as the time of year and the company with which you decide to go, as they all have different starting and end points.

However there are some things that will be similar, such as:

Time: pick up time is usually from 9:00-9:30 (from Ubud, this may be earlier if you’re in the South). The time of actual rafting will be between 2-2.5 hours. End time is about 14:00 and you’ll get back to Ubud by 14:30-15:00.

Distance: the length of the river that you’ll get to see is usually about 12-14km. This will vary from company to company as they will choose which bit of the river they can take you to.

Lunch: lunch is always included and consists of some fruit, rice, a vegetable dish, a noodle dish (usually vegetarian too) and a meat dish. Very basic and local food, but tasty anyway.

Rafting in Bali, Indonesia, review of Telaga Waja and Ayung rivers

Views: you will see stunning jungle views in both the Ayung and the Telaga Waja rivers. I honestly can’t say which one I prefer as they are both gorgeous! Both rivers have waterfalls falling into the rivers and at the right season they can be lots of fun as you may be allowed to swim under one or just stop and get a little “shower” 😉

Your guides: the guys who will take care of you during your trip are awesome and very safe! You will usually have a group of 2-3 boats, with 4-6 people and a guide in each one, sitting at the back. He will be doing the main steering and getting you out of trouble (because you will get stuck at least once haha!). They are usually hilarious and will entertain you throughout the entire journey.

Your stuff: your main bag will be left with the driver, your small bag of essentials can be taken on the boat, but it will be placed into a waterproof bag. You can take it out during your 10 minute break. Flip flops will be tied to the boat until the end of the journey. You will be given a paddle, a lifejacket and a helmet at the start and you will carry it to the boat and back.

Anya rafting in Bali 2006, Ayung river

Your kids: will love it! Both of the rivers are very safe and you always see kids of all ages on the boats (well maybe not younger than 5). As long as they can walk and follow basic instructions, they will be fine, please read my recommendation below for which river to chose for younger children. You don’t even need to know how to swim, everyone gets given lifejackets and for the most part you will stay in the boat.

Cost: It depends on where you’re booking it from, usually between 300,000-400,000IDR (around $30-40).

Telaga Waja river – rafting in Bali

Telaga Waja is personally my favourite river to go to because it is a little bit more exciting than the Ayung river. It is quite bumpy all the way through, with many mini waterfalls. What makes this route even more fun is that at the end, there is a 6 metre waterfall – don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe, the paddles will be taken away from you and you will be asked to sit in a specific way to avoid hurting yourself.

I would recommend the Telaga Waja river if you are up for a little adventure. However your arms may get tired after a while as there will be more work involved in steering the boat. Also, there is no swimming on this river as far as I know.

Surprisingly, I don’t really have photos at the Telaga Waja, but the views are very similar at the two rivers.

This one is usually marked at a slightly higher price, but you can always haggle.

Ayung river – rafting in Bali

The Ayung river is, in my opinion, the better choice if you are travelling with younger children or those who just want a more relaxing ride down a beautiful river. The waters are more calm here, with many rapids but no large waterfalls to go down.

Anya rafting in Bali 2006, Ayung river, cave waterfall

You may find a nice cave with a waterfall to swim in at the Ayung River.

There is also usually a chance to swim in this river. Sometimes the guide will stop you in a nice spot with a waterfall and let you swim around it, or other times if you’re floating in a safe area, you can just jump out and swim alongside the boat for a while.

Anya rafting in Bali 2006, Ayung river, swimming

You can swim at the Ayung River, but not so much at Telaga Waja

If you have chosen this river, do prepare yourself for a looooong walk down several hundred stairs down to the river, and a long walk up. I don’t think you can escape it, I’ve been on the Ayung river with several different companies, starting at different locations, but the walk down was always the same – gorgeous, but my legs hurt for 2 days afterwards haha! Well worth it though!

Walking down to Ayung river, rafting Bali, Live Love Raw

Walking down to Ayung River

Depending on the route you take, you may see a beautifully carved wall along the side of the river. It was done around 2005 I believe, but it looks ancient and you may get a chance to stop and take photos with it.

Anya Andreeva on Ayung river, Bali, white water rafting, carvings wall

What you should bring with you to go rafting in Bali

If you have diving boots or strapped sandals, those really help as flip flops can fall off and will be taken off you, and occasionally if there’s a block in the river, you will be asked to walk a little bit through the jungle, barefoot.

You WILL be getting wet, no question about it, so bring spare clothes (you will be asked to leave your main bag with your driver and take only essentials with you). I would recommend wearing things that you don’t mind getting wet, such as surfing pants / swimming trunks and a tshirt.

Anya rafting in Bali, Telaga Waja river, waterfall

Rest stop to see a waterfall at Telaga Waja river. Dress code: diving boots, short sarong and a strap top.

If you have a waterproof camera or better yet a Go Pro that you can attach to your helmet, that will be a fun thing to take with you.

A ziplock bag for your phone, wallet and keys may be a good idea. They give you a small plastic bag for this stuff that they will later put into the large waterproof bag, but it’s always nice to keep things together and zip-locked.

Some companies give you a towel and some don’t – better take one just in case, you can just leave it with your driver.

If you have specific dietary requirements, it may be a good idea to take a snack with you. The food options at lunch are very basic and I can guarantee you’ll be hungry after the long trip!

Here’s my video of rafting at the Ayung river:

What you should not bring with you to go rafting in Bali

Personally I always leave my big camera at home, everything you take with you gets put into a bag anyway so there’s really not many opportunities to take photos. And even though your stuff is stored in a waterproof bag, the contents will still bump into each other for 2 hours.

Don’t take hats – you will be asked to wear a helmet, and you may want to leave any jewellery or things that can easily fall off during the ride or get caught in your lifejacket.

Leave your good clothes at home, you may get mud on them.

Same goes for trainers, unless you really don’t mind them getting wet – you will either wear them or have them strapped to the boat, they will not go into the waterproof bag.

Have I missed anything?

Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear your adventures 🙂

About the Author:

Anya is a raw food chef, writer and an artisan chocolatier. Get her book with healthy vegan recipes here. Anya is also a relationship and tantric coach, helping individuals and couples worldwide (in-person or through video chat). She writes articles covering a broad range of themes, such as: love and tantra, natural health and spirituality and nutrition, as well as raw food recipes recipes! Anya is also passionate about travel and you can find her travel articles here.

5 Comments

  1. Karel September 14, 2018 at 10:23 am - Reply

    Hi Anya, great article! What are the best (and worst) times of the year to go rafting in Bali?

    • Anya Andreeva September 14, 2018 at 5:59 pm - Reply

      Hmm… I’ve been at all times of the year, during the wet and the dry season, I personally didn’t see much of a difference to be honest. However, during the wet season it may be less picturesque if it happens to rain whilst you’re rafting as it becomes foggy and pictures won’t come out as good, but it clears up pretty quickly too. Dry season is from about April till September more or less.

  2. Dinosaur River Expeditions July 17, 2018 at 3:54 am - Reply

    Liked your article! Thanks for sharing the pieces of advice, it will really be helpful for those who are planning to river raft.

  3. dr manoj vasan January 26, 2017 at 7:19 am - Reply

    hi..Anya, good tips..we will go for telaga waja river..thanks.

  4. Made April 15, 2016 at 5:23 am - Reply

    Hi Anya, I voted for Telaga Waja River instead Ayung (shallow water) !

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