The Rio Grande, a name I’ve heard my whole but only experienced once. This giant river located in the parish of Portland is the birthplace of rafting in Jamaica. It is the largest river in Jamaica and one of the most visited. In short, if you haven’t been, then it’s time to add it to travel wishlist.
Rio Grande, which in English simply means “big river”. The origins of the name came from when the Spaniards occupied Jamaica during the 15th and 16th century. They decided to name this apparently large river the Rio grande and the name was never changed. It is one of the biggest tourism attractions in Jamaica. However, it is very popular among many of us locals too. And with good reason, it’s a prime destination for one very particular activity which is rafting.
The history of rafting on the Rio grande begun in a not so touristy way. Dating back to 1951, a celebrity called Errol Flynn saw banana farmers from the Blue mountains using bamboo rafts with fruit strapped to it floating down the river. They used these bamboo rafts to transport their goods to the wharf at Port Antonio, the capital of the parish. Mister Flynn instantly thought that his visitors would enjoy the idea of rafting the river. It’s said that he used to challenge his guests to moonlight rafting races down the river. All of which help popularize rafting on the river.
The experience is a slow pace journey. Companies such as Rio Grande tours offers trips down the river, in the similar way that it begun. The entire trip is a 3 hours 6 mile long journey down the river. So if you’re not one for slowing down, then you’ll find this trip a bit difficult.
Along the way, you’ll notice the diversity of the terrains. The river itself is surrounded by tropical landscapes and it’s really a peaceful scenery filled with lush greenery, rugged rocks and glistening waters. I recommend that when you embark on this journey down the river, be attentive, stay present, relax and open your senses. Notice the smells, the sounds of wildlife, the variety of birds chirping and the beauty of the river water. Truly enjoy the area, scenery and most importantly, enjoy the ride.
Adventure truly comes in different forms. Even the most popular tourist sites can keep their appeal for years and years to come. The point of each adventure is the experience. The task at hand, the feeling you get and the awe-inspiring things you see. I have learnt that while some locations might be similar to one another, it doesn’t mean the appeal is less. It’s all about the mindset, the journey and our perspectives. Whether you’re rafting down the Rio grande, skiing in Austria or trekking across the Sahara desert , it’s the experience that makes us come alive and forever changes us. The ultimate outcome of any trip is the result of the experience we get.