Rafting Down Rapids Of The Picturesque Serayu River

With its source in the highlands of Mount Slamet on the Dieng plateau, the picturesque Serayu river flows rapidly across five districts in Central Java to empty out in the Indian Ocean, south of Java, near the town of Cilacap.

Flowing down from an altitude of 500 meters above sea level, Sungai Serayu covers a length of 30 km with a width  of around 12 meters,  passing the five districts of: Wonosobo, Purbalingga, Banjarnegara, Banyumas and Cilacap.

Providing a backdrop of steeply sloping mountains and green rice paddies, the Serayu offers challenging rafting tracks and thrills for seekers of an adrenaline rush.

The Serayu river, Central Java
The Serayu river, Central Java (Source : wikipedia.org)

Aside from its swift moving rapids, there are winding river paths with rocks of all sizes scattered randomly in your path, making for a very challenging and exciting adventure rafting along this river.

Rafting on the Serayu starts at the Tunggoro village, Sigaluh sub-District, in the Banjarnegara District in Central Java. The route to reach this location is not difficult to remember being located on the side of the main road linking the cities of Wonosobo and Banjarnegara.

In 1997, the Serayu was chosen as the course for the Indonesian National Rafting Competition. And it was from this time on that the public became more aware of this river, which flows right through their midst, that possesses such unique and challenging terrain. The Serayu today is one of Indonesia’s most popular rafting tracks, that is very reliable and well worth considering for those who love a sports challenge.

Serayu offers two crossing trips, each of about 12 km. The distance takes between 2 hours to 2.5 hours.

With an approximate width of between 12-12.5 meters, rafting on this river enters into the categories 3 and 4 in rafting terms. Aside from the excitement and challenge of navigating through this river there is also amazing, natural scenery on either side of the river. Another plus to this site is that its water currents and levels are not affected by the rain or lack there of, making the Serayu a suitable all year round rafting destination regardless of season.

Serayu rafting, Central Java
Serayu rafting, Central Java (Source : jatengprov.go.id)

Professional rafting operators here offer a variety of excursion packages for water sports activities. The cost per rental package usually comes complete with rafting equipment, including inflatable boats, life jackets, guide services, food, and insurance. Besides rafting, operators typically also provide packages for other activities such as outbound training, paint ball games, and outdoor camping. Food stalls and home-stays at local homes can also be found around this area, which will add to the cultural aspect of your visit to Central Java.

Fishing is another sport to enjoy. In Serayu are found abundant catfish, nila and shrimps.

In addition to being an excellent rafting and fishing location, Sungai Serayu has other tourist attractions. There are several activities and cultural attractions that can be enjoyed at certain times of the year, for example the Grebeg Suro and the Serayu Festival. You can read more about these in the “TO DO” section.

Sungai Serayu is the lifeblood of the five districts in its path and the river’s waters are of very good quality, healthy, and clean. This means that the river which covers approximately 360,639 hectares is also a very useful source of irrigation for the surrounding farmland.


If you opt to stay directly in the Sungai Serayu area, lodging options here are private homestays. This will be at the homes of residents in this area. You will be able to get information on these from any of the locals or from the rafting operators. If you want to stay at Banjarnegara, which is not directly in the river area, the following list of lodgings can be of assistance:

  • Hotel  Asri, Jl. Letjend Suprapto No. 60 Banjarnegara
  • Central Hotel, Jl. DI Panjaitan 24
  • Garuda Hotel, Jl. Dipayuda 30
  • Hotel Banjarnegara, Jl. Pemuda 72
  • Hotel Sokanandi, Jl. Tentara Pelajar Km 3

The rapid flow of Sungai Serayu and its challenging terrain makes this river a natural tourist destination, especially attractive for river rafting fans. Serayu has a rafting grade of 3-4. The surrounding natural scenery is also beautiful and another bonus adventure is trekking and exploring the off the beaten paths surrounding Serayu. There are also several food stalls, locker room facilities, and transportation routes for easy access for whitewater rafting.

For river rafting on the Serayu, the cost ranges between Rp 200.000 – Rp 400.000, – depending on what is included in the package, among which full safety gear such as rubber boat, life jacket, guide services, meals, and insurance.

Rafting Operators have available guides who will help you with navigating and exploring around and along the river to help you gain the full experience that this location offers.

The primary rafting service provider here is the Serayu Adventure Indonesia, Singamerta village, Sigaluh, Banjarnegara, Central Java.

Aside from the natural attractions offered along the Serayu river, cultural activities are often performed as a tradition. Grebeg Suro is held on the banks of Sungai Serayu. During Grebeg Suro there are usually a variety of agricultural products which will be contested. Grebeg Suro is an annual event celebrated on 1 Muharram (1 Suro in Javanese).

In addition, the Serayu Festival is celebrated with competitions and games, among which: paddle boat racing, kite decoration, games, and other competitions. Also held are a variety of performing arts shows, such as traditional wayang puppet shows, karaoke, and much more to add to the festive occasion. The Serayu Festival is also held to attract more visitors to the Serayu area. Both these traditions, the Grebeg Suro and the Serayu Festival can be seen in the Rawalo District, in the Banyumas District.


The Serayu region can be primarily reached by taking the train from Jakarta or Yogyakarta to Purwokerto  train station. This town is located near the foothills of Gunung Slamet, where the river itself is located. From here you can take a taxi or chartered car to get to the rafting location. If you already know the exact location of the rafting spot you want to visit, there is a lot of reliable public transportation, and you can ask around to find the right vehicle.

If you take a private car directly from Jakarta, Purwokerto can be reached by following this route: Jakarta – Cikampek – Plumbon – Kanci – Losari – Brebes – Tegal – Slawi – BumiAyu – Ajibarang – Purwokerto.

For those of you who have come to witness the Festival Serayu then take a bus to the areas of Purwokerto – Banyumas. From the Banyumas terminal there is public transportation to take you to the location of the festival. This is because the rafting areas and the location of the celebrations (Grebeg Suro and Festival Serayu) are different. Festival Serayu and Grebeg Suro can be seen in the Rawalo District, Banyumas Regency, while rafting locations are primarily at Tunggoro Village, Sigaluh sub-District in the Banjarnegara District.


Be careful when wading in the Serayu river. At the start, the water flow may not appear too challenging but after about one kilometer, the current will have increased so much so that most of the time there isn’t even a need to paddle to continue moving through the water, as the current will be strong enough to push you along. Keep an open eye for the scattered boulders and rocks throughout the length of the river as well.

Use the safety gear such as the helmet, life jacket, and the other gear offered at all times when on the water.

The rapid flows at Sungai Serayu are not affected by the season, so you can enjoy rafting all year round.



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