A Day with O.A.R.S.
A Day with O.A.R.S.
What to Expect on your O.A.R.S. Whitewater Vacation
First of all, relax—you're in good hands. O.A.R.S. has been a leader in adventure travel for four decades, providing white water rafting, sea kayaking, hiking and multi-sport vacations for travelers of all ages and abilities. Our goal, since 1969, has been to help people enjoy "the best outdoor experience of their lives."
O.A.R.S. has been recognized as the “The Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth” by National Geographic Adventure magazine for multiple years. Additionally, Outside magazine, National Geographic Traveler magazine, MSNBC, Good Morning America, Condé Nast Traveler and Men’s Journal have all recognized O.A.R.S. as offering some of the “Best Trips” on the planet.
With the best guide-to-guest ratio in the business (1:4) and a host of friendly, approachable, tremendously experienced and professional guides, the team at O.A.R.S. understands the secret to a great journey is YOU.
O.A.R.S. guides share of themselves and their knowledge and they remember that this adventurous vacation is about you and your experience on the river. They’re patient with the same question they’ve heard a million times, helpful to the biggest klutz on the trip, and they anticipate your concerns while routinely catering to your comfort on the river and in camp. They are musicians, storytellers, jesters, professors, wonderful cooks, best companions, and of course, excellent river guides. They have a keen sense for each of their clients, and watch for the hole that needs filling, or the rainbow that needs an “Ah!” to keep it going.
The Adventure Begins
As you assemble at your meeting place, you may notice travelers of all ages and athletic abilities represented among the group of rafters. Additionally, you will no doubt recognize kindred spirits in your fellow adventurers. O.A.R.S. specializes in small group travel with group sizes that range from 6 to 8 travelers to as many as 25 travelers on a full trip generally with 4 to 6 passengers in a raft.
Your guides, who are the single-most complimented component of our organization, will greet you and explain in detail what you may expect throughout your trip. They are pros at keeping you calm as you venture beyond your comfort zone: our goal is for you to have a fun and memorable experience. The trip leader will provide a detailed safety talk and distribute the appropriate gear. O.A.R.S.’ boats, equipment and gear is top-of-the-line and rigorously maintained. Rest assured knowing that we use only the best and most reliable equipment.
You will choose your boat (often you’ll have the option of an oar raft, paddle raft, inflatable kayak and on many trips a dory or two may be available), companions and guide, tighten your lifejacket, fasten your helmet and allow the fun to begin. Whether you enjoy quiet moments of floating on a calm stretch of river or paddling through heart-pumping Class V whitewater, your vacation has arrived! You will experience new thrills, see new parts of the world and create memories to last a lifetime.
After a morning of river running as your adrenaline and jittery nerves begin to fade, you will stop for lunch. No doubt the guides will find a sandy beach or otherwise appropriate place for a hearty meal. We prepare lunch as you compare the morning’s experience with friends, family and fellow travelers. Lunch may be a delicious spread of cold cuts and cheese on assorted breads, with hummus and veggies in soft pitas, or tasty taco salad in roll-your-own burritos. There will also be a seemingly endless supply of cookies for dessert, or a fruit salad and a cool drink.
The guides pack up and everyone returns to their rafts for another thrilling ride to camp. You may change boats and join new friends or hop in a raft with another guide. Each guide has his or her own unique personality and they all offer insights into the geology, history, flora and fauna of the river canyon. In most cases, you are on the river for no more than +/- 6 hours a day—just ¼ of your day—which leaves a lot of time for hiking, exploring, fishing, reading, napping and relaxing on the beach.
Our guides are experts at finding the best camp spots away from other groups. You may often feel as though you are the only people on the river. Camp may be at a still, sandy alcove on the water’s edge, or a sunny, green clearing among mammoth cedars and towering cliff faces. There are trailheads, fishing hideaways and swimming holes just a few moments away. For the first-time adventurers, tent set up is a breeze. Your guides can show you how, or help you out. Sturdy tents, cozy sleeping bags and thick sleeping pads give your camp by the river most of the comforts of home.
The guides prepare the rest of the camp—including a private location for the “groover” (bathroom). The remainder of the afternoon and evening is yours to enjoy, whether you choose to play a game of horseshoes or bocce ball on the beach, join a guided interpretive hike, enjoy a good book or hang out with the guides as they prepare hors d’oeuvres and a hearty meal. Enjoy the pleasure of a cold beer or soft drink, chilled in the river after a hot day or savor a glass of wine from a local winery. The choice is yours.
The meals we serve are hearty and sumptuous, complete with fresh fruits and vegetables throughout your entire journey. Our menu features great camp cooking in a wilderness atmosphere. Wake up to pancakes, omelets, or eggs cooked to order, complemented by bacon or sausage, juice, and plenty of fresh-brewed coffee, tea and cocoa. Satiate your appetite at lunch with a delicious spread of cold cuts and cheese on assorted breads, hummus and veggies in soft pitas, or tasty taco salad wraps. At the dinner table, our guides’ cooking skills truly shine. You may snack on hors d’oeuvres while waiting for vegetables, pasta, rice, and the main course: steak, grilled salmon, Baja tacos, sizzling fajitas, or perhaps delicious Dutch oven lasagna. Vegetarian options are available if you tell us of your preference ahead of time. And, if you can find room, there will always be something for dessert. Expect to eat as well—or better—than you do at home, without having to do any of the work.
As some of the guides clean up the dinner mess at least one of the guides may break out a guitar or recap the day with a larger than life tale from the river. Evenings might include a star talk, a campfire, s’mores, a reading from the journal of an early explorer, a joke telling competition or quiet time to contemplate a brilliant, unhindered night sky.
One of the more mysterious parts of a whitewater rafting vacation is the toilet, affectionately referred to as the ‘groover’. The groover, always set up and removed by the guides, is placed at a discrete location away from camp and frequently has the most scenic vistas. Privacy is something our guides aspire to provide at every site, and sanitation is highly regulated. The toilet is a narrow metal box with its key feature being a rectangular lid that creates a watertight seal to prevent spillage while locking in the odors (well, most of them). An aluminum flange is placed on top of the box and a toilet seat is mounted on the riser. (During an early river trip back in the 1970s, shortly after this system was developed, the toilet seat was accidentally left behind, the rims of the riser left telltale indentations on everyone's bums, and the box got a nickname: the groover.) There is always plenty of toilet paper, as well as a marker notifying other passengers when the groover is in use.
Read Kevin Fedarko’s “Groover Boy” article written for Outside Magazine
Lodge-based, Boat-based, Safari-camp Trips
In addition to traditional camping-based rafting trips, O.A.R.S. offers a variety of alternative accommodations on select rafting, sea kayaking, hiking and multi-sport adventures. We offer lodge-based trips, safari-style camps, as well as boat-based trips in the Galapagos Islands. Our non-tent-based trips include the same daily itineraries as previously mentioned, exploring the natural environment (whether by raft, kayak or on foot). However, days conclude with a hot shower and an inviting bed, and quite often an unforgettable sunset from a veranda or the bow of a boat.
For more information on any of our lodge- or boat-based departures, call 1-800-346-6277 today!