Loading up the dump truck for another run down the river

The Asahan river is located in North Sumatra, Indonesia. This river originates from the Toba Caldera super volcano and reaches the ocean at the Malacca Strait. Warm water and a number of different sections to suit all paddling abilities from beginner to extreme make this a must-visit destination for everybody.

Photo by Sam Ricketts

Trophies and medals won by the local rafting team

Friendly locals

If you ever want a boost to your self-esteem, you should visit the Asahan Valley. Due to international visitors being few and far between, you will get treated like a superstar everywhere you go. Everyone knows the word ‘selfie’, even if they don’t speak English, and you will have your photo taken with various locals between 10 and 100 times a day!

These local paddlers came from all around Indonesia to join in the festival

Good food

If you like fried rice (nasi goreng) and noodles (mi goreng) this is the place for you. A standard meal in Indonesia costs between $1 to $3 NZD (£0.50 – £1.60) and will usually include rice or noodles, fried vegetables, and a delicious curry with fried chicken and a fresh fruit juice on the side. At the restaurant we frequented while in the valley, my favourite juices were pineapple & banana and tamarillo, the weirdest combination we experienced was avocado and chocolate, luckily we were only served that particular combination once.

Standard meal in Indonesia

Food options at our restaurant of choice

Scooter mission to an awesome hike to a secluded waterfall

Probably one of the best whitewater races

The Toba Caldera Whitewater Festival started off with three days of epic raft racing on super fun whitewater. The kayak race started out with a downriver time trial on the rabbit hole section of the Asahan river – possibly one of the most extreme race courses I have ever paddled. The kayak slalom course, designed by Mael and Charlie, was super fun and challenging and the boater cross got you going from the get-go with a super intimidating start ramp.

Mike Dawson on the ‘rabbit hole’ section of the Asahan

A gorgeous gorge on the lower Asahan

Incredible scenery

Epic jungle, beautiful waterfalls, exotic wildlife, the Asahan valley has it all. Unfortunately, the rise in plastic use in recent years has resulted in a build-up of non-biodegradable waste in this otherwise beautiful valley. A major focus for the 2018 Asahan River Festival which will run from the 1st to the 9th December will be a ban on single-use plastics for the duration of the event. The organisers also have plans to work with the local schools to promote the areas natural beauty and raise awareness of the impact of plastic in the valley.