A splashtastic time white water rafting in Cardiff

As mentioned in my Traverse review – 13 lessons learnt from attending Traverse 16 – one of the many highlights of the travel blog weekend conference in Cardiff were the ‘Sunday Experiences’.  All Traverse attendees could choose up to two experiences organised by the events sponsor – Visit Wales.  There were 22 options to choose from including playing golf at the 2010 Ryder Cup Course at Celtic Manor, a thrilling Sea Safari rib ride and a day trip to the Gower Peninsula.

As soon as I opened the email describing the eagerly anticipated Sunday Experiences I signed up for the white water rafting at the Cardiff International Sports Village. There were two reasons for this – Firstly to make the most of being child-free for the weekend (whoop!) and take part in an activity I could not yet enjoy with my two and five-year old sons.  Secondly, I knew if I deliberated for too long I was likely to talk myself out of it! Before having kids I was a bit of a dare-devil… scuba diving, water and snow skiing, glacier trekking….. all experiences that I loved before kids.  Since having kids however, my adventurous spirit has somewhat faded and I have been known to feel a little nauseous when accompanying my sons on a carousel ride!  Anyway, I digress… I didn’t talk myself out of taking part in the white water rafting and a few weeks later I was excitedly meeting up with my fellow boaters for the short journey from Cardiff city centre to Cardiff Bay.


Surprisingly there were only a few of us taking part in the rafting accompanied by our host from Visit Wales.  (Clearly other conference attendees didn’t need to make the most of being child-free or were perhaps recovering from the Saturday night Traverse party!)  After filling in waiver forms and wriggling our way into wet suits we joined our instructor, Lee, to listen to our safety briefing whilst overlooking the man-made course .  It reassured me that Lee had brought his son along to join us as a 13th birthday treat…. in my head I was thinking Lee was unlikely to want his young son to go overboard and therefore we will be safe under his guidance too!

We practised following Lee’s instructions in flat calm water including rowing forward and backwards and to the left and right.  We also attempted ‘leaning in’ and ‘getting down’ to safety into the raft. With eight of us onboard it was a tight fit and especially important to keep our oars pointing upwards each time we sat down in the bottom of the raft to avoid knocking each other overboard!

A splashtastic time white water rafting in Cardiff

After proving that we could follow Lee’s instructions we made our way over to a large conveyor belt which took us up to join the 250 meter circular course.  Being on the conveyor belt reminded me of the apprehension I felt as a child when on the log flume…. We were all giddy with excitement and I was talking complete nonsense which is what I tend to do when nervous!

A splashtastic time white water rafting in Cardiff
A splashtastic time white water rafting in Cardiff
A splashtastic time white water rafting in Cardiff

When we reached the course we were reliably informed that the water pumps at 16 cubic metres of water per second… the equivalent to 80 bath tubs!  We didn’t really have too much time to reflect on this because we were launched quickly around the rapids following Lee’s instructions and trying to avoid capsizing!  On our first time round the course we had a near miss where Lee nearly went in and was quickly given a helping hand by one of our team members Andrew.  Losing our instructor on the first lap could have been a disaster!  As it was he had just lost his oar which was quickly retrieved.

The whole experience lasted two hours.  This was from arriving at the venue to landing back on the jetty completely sodden and a little achy but completely and utterly exhilarated!  Each time we went around the course Lee seemed to mix it up a little so that we experienced different skills.  For example he moved Andrew to the front of the raft and instructed us how to ‘ride the wave’ so that we were surfing.  To be honest, I am not sure we grasped the correct technique for surfing… we just seemed to put the front of our raft under the water and had the back of the raft suspended up in the air but it was good fun!  (I was however glad that I had not been the one to save Lee from going overboard if this was the thanks you got lol!)

A splashtastic time white water rafting in Cardiff
A splashtastic time white water rafting in Cardiff

I’m not sure we improved much during the six times around the course but everyone onboard had a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable time and its fair to say that there was a lot of screaming and shrieking coming from our raft!  The atmosphere on the course itself was also upbeat and fun.  With kayakers sharing the water course and climbers overhead on the air trail there was lots going on and so well worth a visit even as a spectator.

Need to know for a splashtastic time white water rafting in Cardiff!
The Cardiff International White Water accommodates adventurers from 6+ years as they are able to lower the water level and speed of the rapids so that younger visitors can enjoy rafting too.  There are normally up to 6 people in one raft.  All coaching and specialist equipment is provided.

Regular rafting for 12+ years costs between £40 – £55 per person and lasts two hours. Family White Water Rafting for 6+ years costs between £22.50 – £25 per person, lasts two hours and is available Wednesday and Sunday mornings and school holidays.

Top tips for an enjoyable visit
Remember to take your swim wear and towel as they are not provided.  Ideally invite a friend to watch and take photos for you (even if you have a waterproof camera it would be impossible to capture any shots of the action whilst safely taking part!)  GoPro video cameras can be worn on helmets secured with a head strap mount.

Disclaimer – My rafting experience was courtesy of Traverse Events, Visit Wales and Cardiff International White Water.  All shrieks, screams and occasional swear words in a very northern accent are my own!

Copyright – All images are copyright Travel Loving Family



53 thoughts on “A splashtastic time white water rafting in Cardiff

  1. McKenzie

    I have never rafted on something man-made, but I bet it is just as exhilarating! Thank you for sharing this fun and exciting experience.

  2. Jordan

    This looks like so much fun! Hope everyone in these photos had an excellent time, and that lots of people try out this experience.

  3. Ting at My Travel Monkey

    You’re much braver than me Lisa. I am quite daring when it comes to most things, but for some reason white water rafting has always been something I’ve shied away from! I’m not the strongest of swimmers! I’m so glad you had a good experience at Traverse though, and I wish I could have come! Maybe next time. Thanks for hosting #citytripping
    Ting at My Travel Monkey recently posted…The Top Five Beaches in DevonMy Profile

  4. Sarah Ebner

    This really does sound like fun – and, as you say exhilarating. But I don’t think I could do it without my son having a go too – he’d never forgive me!! #citytripping

  5. Kara Guppy

    I love that they can accommodate rafting for the younger ones, I know my hubby and teen want to do it and I think Isaac would want a go too (I would happily do the kids one LOL)

    1. Lisa Post author

      The Gower is also on my list Erica:) We have just booked to go to Barmouth Bay which is located next to Snowdonia. I cannot wait to return to Wales!

  6. Kat

    This looks like a venue created specially for white-water rafting experience. Looks like you had a splashing, oops, smashing time! 🙂 #CityTripping

    1. Lisa Post author

      Yes the course was built especially for white water rafting, canoeing and kayaking Kat. They also offer river boarding, hot dogging (a two person inflatable kayak) and stand up paddle boarding, I have never heard of these three water sports before but now that I have my confidence back I would love to give all three a try!

  7. Mama Herself

    What a clever facility! I’d imagine you’d have to be very brave indeed to book a holiday which involves doing it in the wild from the get go. Do you think you’d be more likely to have a go at that now?

    1. Lisa Post author

      I was very impressed with the facilities at CIWW and yes I would love to try white water rafting on a river now too:) I’ll be dropping massive hints to my husband re: rafting the Grand Canyon lol!

    1. Lisa Post author

      Thanks for stopping by Corey. Yes it was great fun, I returned home feeling like I could take on any toddler tantrum after an afternoon white water rafting!

  8. Ruth

    I see that you enjoy adventure. I have never seen a water rafting course like this. I am a total coward when it comes to “extreme” activities but this sounds like something I might do.

  9. Marta

    This sounds like so much fun! I was around the bay in Cardiff that very same morning at the Dr Who experience: I thought I had an adventure (you get to be part of your very own Dr Who story) but clearly you went on an adventure too – how fun!

    1. Lisa Post author

      I have heard great things about the Dr Who experience Marta. I plan to check it out next time we are in Cardiff:) Glad to hear you had a fun day too

    1. Lisa Post author

      I look forward to reading about the family friendly tour of Cardiff you enjoyed Claire. I need some tips for when we visit as a family

  10. Cindy

    I’ve never tried rafting before but it looks like so much fun!! What a great experience! I love that you took the opportunity to do something adventurous during that weekend. It sounds like it was such a great conference too, I hope to make it there next time. Thanks for hosting #CityTripping
    Cindy recently posted…Spring at Kew GardensMy Profile

    1. Lisa Post author

      I can thoroughly recommend Traverse Cindy. It gave me the opportunity to meet many family travel bloggers face to face and I also learnt so much from the workshops and training sessions. The ‘Sunday Experiences’ truly were the icing on the cake, a great way to network with industry experts but also a lovely opportunity to see what Cardiff has to offer to visitors and try something new! I hope to meet you at Brit Mums in June?

    1. Lisa Post author

      Me too:) Although I do not wish to rush away the toddler years I do look forward to the fun and family adventures we will have when our two boys are older!

  11. Elizabeth (Wander Mum)

    That looks like a lot of fun Lisa…although a bit scary! I have to admit, white water rafting is not my favourite adventure sport but I like the idea of doing it in a controlled environment so if I do get roped into it when the kids are older – I will do it this way! #citytripping

  12. Katy

    That looks like so much fun! Cant wait to try outdoor pursuits like these when my kids are older. Are you inspired to go on more rafting trips? #citytripping

    1. Lisa Post author

      Yes Katy I would love to give white water rafting a go in the wild:) Although I would want to be with a very experienced and reputable company!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: