• Angella Berarey

Rio Grande Valley river rafting

Updated: Jan 28

A scenic drive from the San San area back towards Port Antonio and you will see the signs pointing you in the direction for Berrydale and the river rafting starting point. Your vehicle starts to climb into the hills, hugging the bends. Once you head down into the valley, you start to get glimpses of the river.

Once you arrive, go straight to the office and pay for your booking. You will be given a wrist band and an official ticket. Your rafting captain, wearing a yellow shirt with his raft number on the back, will be registered, licensed & insured and selected in line (for fairness towards all) and will come from the water side, ONCE you have paid. There will be an office attendant issuing you with a life jacket and they will assist you onto the raft and ensure the licence plate is attached.

There may be guys sitting outside the building of the office once you get out of the car, please ignore them and continue inside as above. They are not wearing the yellow shirt ‘uniform’ with their raft number and they are not waiting with the official captains, in line for the next raft. You will always get a longer, safer, more relaxed journey by going with an official raft Captain, licensed to operate on that day with the rest of his colleagues. You may be told that you are getting the same thing for less. I can assure you, you're not!

My other piece of sharing for today is, do not be persuaded that a moonlit night rafting trip is a good idea in the Rio Grande Valley.

OK, back to the good bit…..

I wait in the shade of the office building as the sun is brutal. I need not have worried that it might rain and was thankful for my thoughtful boat captain having a large umbrella. No sooner was I offloaded from the attendant’s responsibility, the umbrella was up and the boat captain introduced himself to me as Leroy. Mr Miller had captained his first raft on this river at the age of 12 and he is going to be 74yrs old next month!

As I settled in beneath my umbrella, I just knew he was going to captivate me, regaling his stories, gathered from those many years of experience. What a gentle man, is Leroy. 74yrs young and looking fitter and younger than some 30 & 50yr olds, respectively. How could I have passed up the opportunity of giving this man some earnings for the day?

Each time a story began, Leroy was well into it before I thought of getting the video started. I could have listened to him every day for years. I have included a few clips, for you to get a sense of his experiences with his grandfather who he says started the rafting and then followed by Errol Flynn etc, it was all so very interesting.

The scenery is breathtaking and you are invited to get off and swim at any point along the way. There was a man selling beer and another selling soft drinks, but I was excited to get to Belinda’s cook shop. Belinda is the daughter of Betty who cooked for me on my 1st & 2nd visit to the Rio Grande rafting in 1990 & 1994. I didn’t get to meet her on my visit here last year and so was pleased to chat with her about my memories of her Mother.

The only thing Belinda brings pre-prepared to the river side is the boiled ‘peas’. Everything else is done on the open fire. She comes down at around 9am and starts the cooking. Today’s offerings were curry goat, fried chicken, rice n peas, breadfruit, fried dumplings & green veg. She did tell me there was something else that she had run out of. I think that’s a substantial menu from the side of the river. After we left Belinda and had travelled quite a distance, Leroy pointed way up into the hills and let me know "that’s where Belinda lives”. I found a new level of respect for that lovely lady. It’s one thing to walk down and up that mountain each day, but to carry all the ingredients to create a delicious menu as well?

Leaving Belinda’s, Leroy informed me that we were approx 2 1/2 miles from the end of the tour. The beauty seemed to increase as the river widened and I felt myself almost in a trance until the sound of a digger dredging the river, with no less than six lorries in the river with me for company, broke the serenity. I am told that they are not supposed to be there and I have to admit that it does rather spoil the end to an almost perfect 3hr plus journey along this incredible stretch of river that is the Rio Grande.

Please stop dredging the river and ruining the natural beauty surrounding you!

Love, peace & freedom from Jamaica💚

If you would like to see more beautiful videos of this amazing trip, click the link below!

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