IT'S HAPPENING. The snow and ice have finally begun to thaw. Winter retreats, and that makes way for a whole host of springtime activities. Whether you plan on staying close to Seoul and taking a swan boat out on the Han River, or you'd like to stretch your legs past city limits, don't neglect Inje (인제) a budding recreational town in northeastern Gangwon-do.
I've always been a huge fan of Seoul Hiking Group. Its main guide, Warren, hosts a number of fantastic, affordable events throughout the year, planning everything from hiking to biking to weekend getaways on Jeju-Do. His planned white water rafting trip on the Naerincheon River out of Inje was no exception. We arrived on the gravelly shores of the river to find the rafting company completely decked out for us: in addition to rafting, there was also ATV rides, zip-lining, paint-balling, and the highest ankle-brace bunjee jump in South Korea, at 207 ft/63m (We'll round up).
My friends and I opted solely for the white water rafting option, but other members of the group disappeared up the bungee jump tower--some in solemn silence, others kicking and screaming. We all watched comfortably from the ground with phones ready and documented the entire free-fall experience, when shrieks of terror turned to whoops of joy.
Our guides ushered us to the rafts. In a group this big (40 people) there's always a couple who speak both English and Korean, and that person was positioned in the back near the rafting guide. From the picture of the river above, you can see that conditions looked calm and a little on the shallower end--that gave the guide ample time to direct our raft to as many rapids as possible. It's a Class II ride, with nothing enormously big, but on a gloriously sunny day, there's no constraint on time, and plenty of opportunities to plan a sneak attack on unsuspecting rafting neighbors. Our guide pulled in by a large ten foot high boulder, perfect for a little cliff jumping into cool, deep waters. We swam our way back to the raft and paddled on, ricocheted through a tight bottleneck, and powered through a giant foamy rapid near the end, spray blowing in our faces. The entire rafting trip was around 3.7 mi/6km, and took 1.5 hours.
A bus was waiting to carry us back to the main beach, where we spent a relaxing afternoon eating in small coffee shops and exploring the banks of the river, while zip-liners soared over our heads. There's definitely something here for everybody, from extreme bungee jumping to milder rafting courses, all enjoyable under the golden sunshine of a lazy afternoon.
The Naerincheon Leisure Sports Company website can be found at: http://www.raft21.com/. Rafting runs May through October.
Disclaimer: The above is depicted as fiction, not fact.