RAFTING on the Martha Brae, just one of the fun things to do at Chukka Good Hope, is a great way to relax but, as LetsTravelCaribbean.com discovered, getting there is an adventure all in itself.
When we visited — a group of local and international media all tested and found free of COVID-19 — we were strapped into just-sanitised life jackets at the reception area then helped into an open-sided jeep. Attentive staff made sure we were all properly secured by our seatbelts and then we were off!
Thank God for those seatbelts! Earlier rainfall had transformed the rugged track to the river into a muddy mess so as the van slipped and slid along, we were often suspended in mid-air or jammed up against fellow riders.
Thank God for COVID-19 tests!
As we made our way to partake in the promised leisurely glide along the river, our guides told us about the lush foliage that constantly appeared as the sides of the truck whizzed by. Questions about why the ‘oranges’ looked so strange led to a mini lesson on the “ugly fruit”. This included a taste of the fruit freshly plucked from the trees and coaxed from its peel that looked to have been in the throes of a very bad acne outbreak. Luckily, it tasted far better than it looked.
After a few more bumps in the track, we finally saw water. We had arrived. There was another safety briefing that included an introduction to our rafters, then we were helped onto flexible yet sturdy bamboo rafts decorated with flowers. There was also a cooler on board with just enough rum punch for two, sipped as the rafter used natural limestone to provide a therapeutic foot massage.
As the rafters navigated the river they exchanged friendly banter, laughing good-naturedly each time one of them lost a pole or fell in the water, only to emerge sheepish and soaking wet. Turns out they weren’t the only ones needing a towel after the river adventure. The skies opened up towards the end of our session and everyone was drenched in warm rainfall. All part of the fun!
Maybe it was the rum punch, maybe it was how the van bounced along the slippery dirt track, but the return ride to the reception area was even noisier than the one getting to the river. Everyone had huge grins on their faces as they handed over their life jackets, all talking at once about the uniquely Jamaican adventure of rafting on the Martha Brae.