Rafting on the Hantangang River

As of June the weather is now hot in Seoul!  The weekend was humid and muggy so we decided to head out of the city and enjoy a day of rafting.  We joined a group that was headed to the Hantangang River in Cheorwon.  This river is about two hours north of Seoul.  It is possible to get to the river using public transportation and a taxi but the easiest way for a group to get to the river is to charter a bus.  Many rafting companies do, however, require advanced booking.

In addition to Hantangang River, you can go rafting on Naerincheon Stream in Inje or Donggang River in Yeongwol.  The majority of the rafting takes place by the DMZ.  The season is from April to October. The water in early June was warm enough to swim in comfortably.

 Our group chartered a bus for the day.  About 40 people attended the trip. The sun was beaming and it was about 90 degrees.  It was the perfect day for a rafting trip!

  Generally the rivers around South Korea are relatively tame.  Currently there is a small drought so the river was very low.  The current was strong enough to keep us moving but it was not the wildest ride.  We still had a great time and enjoyed our day on the water amongst new friends and nature. The topography of South Korea, with its many hills and mountains, lends itself well to beautiful rivers. The steep terrain channels water that cuts deeply into the banks of the rivers exposing beautiful craggy rock formations that rise high on either side. This has the effect of sinking the river below everything else and making a rafting trip very secluded and bucolic.

            After being equipped with life vests, helmets and paddles we all headed to the water.  Our group was made up of six rafts.  As we paddled our way down the river the view was beautiful.  Cliffs, trickling waterfalls, brush and small sand beaches lined the shore. 

Our boat had two instructors in it, the owner of the rafting company and a younger instructor who was still training.  They both spoke little to no English.  Many times when we were instructed it was a little bit of a guessing game as to what to do.  We were able to figure things out though!

 The advanced instructor encouraged us to raise our paddles before each rapid, put them together and then chant “fighting.”  We loudly counted our strokes to keep in sync.  Any time another boat was near it was an instant splash battle, which allowed both parties to cool off and made for some fun on the water.

Half way into our rafting trip we came to a large boulder.  Everyone was encouraged to get out of the boat and jump off the cliff, into the water.  I am not a huge fan of jumping from heights, but the water was so inviting that I had to get back in it one way or another.

At the end of our rafting tour we all raced our rafts back to the pickup point at camp.  Our team won!  We were all promised a beer for our victory.  The entire rafting trip lasted about two and a half hours.

When we arrived back to the rafting camp there were cold showers available to freshen up.  After getting the river water off, we all sat down to a Korean barbeque.  Cold cucumber soup, Korean hot dogs, and barbeque pork was served along with many of the typical barbeque side dishes.  We also had some delicious watermelon!  I was stuffed.

After finishing lunch, we had a small amount of time to enjoy the sun.  We played some Frisbee and then headed to the bus.  Many rafting companies also offer additional sporting events such as ATVing, paintball, and bungee jumping which you can partake in for an additional fee.  Our round trip bus fair, rafting and barbeque lunch cost us about $45.00 per person.  Rafting trips alone start around $25.00.

If you would like more information about how to book a rafting trip you can visit  http://www.dmz155.com.

This article was also published on the cover of Stripes Korea on July 4th 2013.  View it now at http://korea.stripes.com/travel/rolling-on-river

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