BY TAVAKE SIMON HANA’AROA
STARTED by using just car tube tires, Ko Kama is a rafting adventure that was started in 2006 by Anita Emmett from Australia.
It is an adventure that gets you three to four hours down the river though tropical rainforests, as you explore the wild it gets you connected to nature as you enjoy while rambling through the gorge.
Anita Emmett first came to the Solomon Islands 24 years ago in 1996 with her husband and children, as they were heavily involved in the timber industry back then. Their timber business took them to almost every province in the Solomon Islands and right until the start of the ethnic tension which changes everything, and their approach to business changed as well.
After almost fourteen years, Ko Kama which is being conducted by Mrs. Emmett, who is currently managing a commercial building in Honiara, the “City Centre” building never looked back, but continue to organize many more breathtaking rafting trips.
Mbalasuna and Betikama are the two rivers of choice for Anita and her rafting guests and comrades.
According to Anita, there were seven of them at that time who are very keen on taking on that bold and thrilling adventure, which took them about seven hours to raft down the Betikama river, or Lungga river as it is widely known.
“The first trip that we ever did was on some car tube tires and that was in 2006.
“There’s a group of seven of us and we went across Mt Austin and it took us about seven hours to come down the river.
“So ever since then, I wanted to do more trips,” Mrs. Emmett said.
The Ko Kama Rafting Adventure now has proper rafting equipment bought all the way from Europe, meaning risks and other dangers are now preventable by using these five standard white water rafts.
Although it is considered as quite extreme and sometimes can be fatal, for Anita she sees it as a leisure, or a recreational outdoor activity, where one needs to spend a moment out from a hard, tiring day in office.
Because it was fun and more people started to go into rafting, Anita decided to start a little business out of it.
“This was my first time to do rafting here in the Solomon Islands.
“And because it was so much fun, I just want people to come and enjoy as well, mostly expatriates who are working and residing here in Honiara. That is when I decided to start a little business out of it.
“I’ve had a couple of people from cruise ships as well, but not many,” she said.
Besides all these, the river voluntarily showcased its beautiful natural fauna and flora like birds and other plants as described by Mrs. Emmett.
“There are lots of birds you can see on the river, plenty of wild ducks and many butterflies,” said Mrs. Emmett.
The tourism industry in the country has been seen as an essential revenue generator in the country besides logging and fisheries and now we have mining, and according to her, Mrs. Emmett said tourism in the country is slowly growing.
At the ‘Invest to Preserve’ forum which was held in Honiara in 2017, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was quoted saying that tourism is a key driver for the economic future of the country and his government is seriously committed to promoting the Solomon Islands tourism sector.
Ko Kama rafting is one of many adventurous activities that in a way helps to promote the tourism sector in the country and for Anita, she is hoping and preparing to welcome many more people or tourists too who would like to taste how rafting in the Solomon islands is.
One of the challenges that Anita and her rafting adventure face almost every time was the less flow of people into rafting. She said in this case, there is not much money made as well.
“Not so far. I think we need a more constant flow of people.
“The biggest cost is the big vehicles and its maintenance where it needs proper services in making sure it does not break down on the trip,” Anita Emmett said.
Despite all that, it’s fun and still interesting to be on an adventure. As for herself, she wanted to go rafting almost every day.
At the moment, Anita could take four to fourteen people per trip. They would normally meet at the Honiara golf club every 8 o’clock in the morning before setting off to the Parangiju mountain lodge and then drive another forty – five minute upstream, that’s where the adventure normally starts.
Asked how dangerous this adventurous activity is, she excitedly replied “um no you just have to watch out for rocks and branches.
“We have safety equipment now like life jackets and helmets and everything floats, it would prevent one from drowning.”