We pulled up in a nondescript car park and jumped out of the bus. Across the road we could see glimpses of a river between the cars and scooters.
We climbed into boats – long, thin with stablisers on both sides and powered by a free moving engine with a long prop-shaft that served as propulsion and steering.
The river looked like many others – winding and slow moving, the banks covered by vegetation but with one key difference – the water is a bright green.
We putted down the river, pulling over at a fuel dump atop bamboo stilts.
Three young boys climbed the bamboo and dived into the water. They would swim under the boat, and surface laughing and checking that we saw the jump. Then they would do it all again.
We set back off and the river became a little more narrower, and the bends tighter.
The banks soon started to rise from a few feet above the water to far above us as we neared our destination
The river flowed into what looked to be the mouth of a cave, but what was in fact the entrance to the canyon. Here the river was narrow, but the now black walls towered above us.
We could not venture much further with the boats, and so we climbed out onto the rocks. These were worn smooth by centuries of flowing water.
We dived from the rocks into a pool of perfect water. So clear that you could see the bottom, even if you could not hope to reach it.
The canyon walls were covered with plants and greenery. If you turned onto your back and looked up to the ceiling, you could not see daylight.
What you could see were huge raindrops created by the miniature climate inside the cave. They looked to be falling very slowly, and your first instinct was to duck away so you would not get hit by them. However, so high up were they that you could simply watch as they fell to Earth. Each raindrop would catch the sunlight and be illuninated again the blackness of the cavern giving an impression that you were flying through space.
If you have ever seen the classic ‘starfield’ screensaver, or even watched Star Wars and seen the ship jump to hyperspace, than you will have a very good idea of what this looked like.
But to see this whilst floating on your back, with fast flowing water pulling you along an with the backdrop of the canyon stretching out before you is one of the most amazing things that I have ever done.
After negotiating a small set of rocks, the water suddenly picks up a current. This is because further upstream is a waterfall. Its output must go through a thin channel, that effectively turns the flowing water into a jet.
We swam up to where the water entered the pool. To go any further without protective gear would be dangerous. The water flows so fast, that you have to swim hard to reach the shelf. Should you stop swimming, or let go of the shelf, the water throws you backwards without difficulty, and in a couple of seconds, you find yourself halfway across the pool.
It is a lot of fun to swim in.
We hung around for 20 minutes or so, before reluctantly swimming back to the boats.
I’ve read since that at peak times upwards of 2,000 people a day will come to the river. The only people that we saw there were ourselves, and to have that place, for that that time to ourselves was magical.
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