The Martha Brae River, named after a legendary indigenous Taino tribe woman, is one of Jamaica’s most celebrated natural wonders, flowing through the lush landscape of the northern parish of Trelawny. The river’s sparkling waters and the tranquil beauty of its surroundings make it an iconic location for river rafting, one of the most loved recreational activities in Jamaica.
The art of bamboo river rafting in Jamaica began as a means of transporting goods, particularly bananas, from the interior of the island to the coast. Over the years, it evolved into a popular leisure activity. The river rafting experience on the Martha Brae River started as a tourist attraction in 1970, pioneered by John G. Allgrove. The rafts were, and still are, constructed from bamboo, a readily available and renewable resource on the island.
Passengers are guided along the Martha Brae by skilled raft captains on 30-foot long bamboo rafts in a journey that covers about three miles of the beautiful river. Along the way, rafters are treated to tales of the legend of Martha Brae and the enchanting stories of the local flora and fauna.
The legend of Martha Brae speaks of a Taino witch-doctor who was captured by Spanish treasure hunters. The Spanish sought the gold hidden along the river. Martha Brae deceived the Spanish by directing them into a section of the river that diverged into two paths, one of which was a trap. As the Spanish followed her instructions, they were trapped and drowned. Martha Brae, in the end, was the only one who knew the location of the treasure.
Today, the Martha Brae River is a prominent symbol of Jamaica’s rich history and captivating natural beauty. Rafting on the Martha Brae River offers not just an exciting adventure, but also a tranquil and beautiful journey through the heart of Jamaica’s rich history, culture, and stunning landscapes.
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