Many of north India’s finest rafting rivers remain largely unvisited: the preserve of adventure-seekers and wilderness-lovers alike. Here’s where to begin your rafting adventure.
As I approached the roaring rapid, I looked down stream and saw Canadian safety kayaker Daveprothero vigorously pumping his fist in the air: it was the signal that the rapid was safe and we could run the meatiest part of the wild water-water just ahead. As I lined up my small boat to hit the guts of the rapid,I watched Captain Rana guide his raft into the white-water mayhem in front of me. One moment the raft was cruising through the big waves, next second it disappeared
As the sound of distant blasting and pneumatic drills faded, replaced by the reassuring gurgle of the fast-flowing river, Sanjay said simply, ‘Now we are on our own.’ Our expedition through western Ladakh, along one of India’s most spectacular yet unheralded rivers, was about to enter the Grand Canyon of the Zanskar.
Tackling huge rapids in the Siang and being spectator to nature’s ferocious ways while rafting down the stretch from Tuting to Pasighat in Arunachal gave Stephen Cunliffe a chance to embrace the challenges of India’s premier white water descent
It all started in a seedy backstreet pub off Rusholme’s ‘curry mile’ where a selction of Manchester’s most degenerate old-time paddlers were gathered to plot their next big trip. It was decided that nothing less than the mighty Brahmaputra, in the extreme northeast of India would do
Popularly referred to as the national river of India, the Ganges takes its name from the Gangotri Glacier where it originates in the western Himalaya. Draining a staggering 1,000,000 km2 basin, the Ganges is unquestionably the largestriver on the Indian subcontinent. Beginning in Uttarakhand asthe Bhagirathi River, it joins the Alaknanda River near the town of Deoprayag to form the Ganges before embarking on a 2510 km eastward journey until it finally empties into the Bay of Bengal inside Bangladesh.
Awoke at 6 am to a grey morning. It had rained continuously through the night and everything was drenched. As I struggled into a freezing cold wetsuit and pulled on a sopping wet spray jacket, I yearned for the sunny weather we had taken for granted at the start of our adventure.
An expedition down the Kali-Sarda can quite aptly be described as “a trip right out of The Jungle Book”: perfect weather, warm water, pristine wilderness, no roads, plentiful wildlife and big sandy beach campsites crisscrossed with fresh leopard tracks! I was expecting a fun-filled week dominated by aquatic adventures, but it was the beauty of the wilderness experience that took me completely by surprise.
The scenery on the Grand Canyon of the Zanskar rivals that of any river canyon in the world.. As the sound of distant blasting and pneumatic drills faded, replaced by the reassuring gurgle of the fast-flowing river, Sanjay said simply, “Now we are on our own.”
“It is is a very rocky one, so I need everyone to keep paddling through the rapid,” yells Sanjay in an attempt to be heard above the roaring river. “Speed is essential for us to steer and to avoid all the rocks; if it looks bad, then I’ll give you the ‘get down’ command, so just be ready for anything.”