Yogyakarta is not known for its beaches, waterfalls or mountains. Tourism here is primarily focused on the cultural and historical heritage of Java; there is, however, one natural attraction that is gaining much popularity in this exotic city, river rafting. Rafting in Yogyakarta is as thrilling as when done on the best river rafting venues around Indonesia and Asia.
Whitewater rating is not for everyone. It could be scary and outwardly dangerous to the inexperienced. But for those who have the heart to do it, they are in for a real treat since the river just outside Yogyakarta is surrounded by mountains that make for a very picturesque backdrop. The best time to go whitewater rafting in Jogja (another name for Yogyakarta) is during the rain months of November through April when the river is higher than normal. The higher the waters run, the whiter and more challenging the ride becomes.
The most frequently visited river is Elo River in Magelang, about 40 minutes by bus from downtown Jogja. The water here is fun and safe for beginners, which is why it is very popular. Most visitors here are families. The river is Grade II, which means it is safe for beginners and even for children. It is a very long river, about 13 km, and the ride takes around 2½ hours. The sheer length, beginning from Blondo Bridge and finishing at Mendut where the Progo River begins, makes it enjoyable and challenging. Along the way are big sharp rocks. It is also very scenic and relaxing as rafters could hear and see a number of birds singing. The ride takes a break somewhere halfway to allow the passengers to have a quick snack.
Near Elo River are the Borobudur and Mendut Temples. A visit to these temples after the river ride is not a bad idea at all. The area is also perfect for hiking and trekking. Needless to say, Borobudur Temple deserves a visit since it is the biggest and most important Buddhist Temple in Southeast Asia. It is one of the most mystical ancient structures in the world.
Whitewater rafting on the Elo River costs 130,000 Rp per passenger if there are six passengers on the boat. The admission fee includes safety equipments, bottled water, snacks and a meal.
Progo River rafting is the next stop but this one is only for the experienced rider. Progo is much more dangerous than the Elo River, especially during the rainy season. Meanwhile, Serayu River in Wonosobo is also just for the experienced. This river is Grade III to IV.
While rafting in Yogyakarta is truly a memorable one-of-a-kind experience, the ride normally comes along other fun outdoor activities. When in Jogja, tourists must try one or more of these outdoor activities: bird watching, spelunking, mountain climbing, volcano watching (there are many active volcanoes in Jogja), trekking, fishing, forest trail, golf, horseback riding, camping, and visiting wide rice fields. Most of the major hotels know about these and could arrange transfers and reservations. These fun activities are of course in addition to what Yogyakarta is most famous for – heritage landmarks and ancient structures such as palaces, temples, and museums.