River Rafting in Rishikesh – A Tryst with Ganges
The calm river splashed against the staunch boulders. The moist sand crumbled under my feet and the sun escaped behind the mountains, gradually towards the other half of earth. As the dim hanging lights illuminated and made the tents sparkle, I sat at the banks of Ganges, waiting for the next day, when I will experience the ecstatic adventure of river rafting in Rishikesh with my friends. Soon, the sun disappeared and daylight started receding from the horizon. I started walking towards my tent to catch up with my other two friends and behind me, the moon light was gradually spreading it’s gentle brightness.
It had been quite an exciting trip till now. I had already checked off Bungee Jumping in Rishikesh from my wishlist and savored delicious North Indian food at a road-side Dhaba. After spending a couple of hours at the Bungee Jumping site, we had now reached the Rishikesh campsite at Shivpuri.
River rafting in Rishikesh starts from one base campsite, far from the Rishikesh town and ends at Laxman Jhula in Rishikesh. Shivpuri is one such campsite. The total distance covered during the river rafting excursion from Shivpuri to Rishikesh is 16 KMs. If you would like to opt for a shorter river rafting expedition, you can chose Brahmpuri camp (9 KMs). For a more challenging and longer journey in Ganges, you can prefer Marine Drive (27 KMs) or Kaudiyala (36 KMs). We had opted for the Marine Bay. However, our campsite was Shivpuri. We were supposed to reach Marine Bay by road next morning to start river rafting.
When we reached Shivpuri Camp, the sun was still shining brightly. The bright sun rays bounced off the calm stretch of river. To reach the campsite, we had to cross the river. We balanced our backpack and climbed in the raft, sent by our tour organizer. As the oars dissected the water and carved our path towards the campsite, we soaked in the beauty of nature. We could see our campsite, with rocky hills as a magnificent backdrop. The stage was set for us! We reached the campsite, had our lunch and waited for the sun to mellow down so that we can swim in the cold Ganga waters and experience a kayaking session.
Our Campsite in Shivpuri (River Rafting in Rishikesh)
Inside View of our tent (River Rafting in Rishikesh)
Finally the sun was closer to the horizon and we ran towards the placid waters. The next day, we wanted the waters to be exactly opposite. Not calm, but roaring! Kayaking was a peaceful experience and it was great to be so close to nature, enchanted by its sheer elegance and magnanimity beyond!
Kayaking in Tranquil Ganga
When the shade of Ganges started matching that of sky, we realized it was getting dark and called it a day after almost an hour of swimming and kayaking. As a group of youngsters played volleyball, we walked towards our tent, rubbing hands in order to regain the body heat. Holding a hot piping cup of tea, we patiently waited for the late evening to transmute into night which would gently bring dawn. The dawn of adventure; the adrenaline fueled day which I will always happily reminisce.
Next day, The sun emerged triumphantly and gradually in the sky became brighter. Our organizers had arranged transport for us to reach Marine Drive, from where our 27 KMs & 4 hours of adrenaline pumped ride would start! As our car approached the site, I was busy feeling my heart pumping a bit faster.
We reached the site in time and meet a bunch of guys who would join us in our river rafting expedition. River rafting in Rishikesh was finally going to be ticked off my list.
The river looked very calm. But, our instructor advised us not to be complacent. “It’s pretty rough out there”. But, that brought a smile on our countenance. The first 5-10 minutes were pretty relaxed. Our boat slid gently over calm waters. We jumped into the tranquil waters and swam for some time. We were now ready to have a face off with the best rapids in India.
In the first rapid, one guy from our team fell from the raft! We were able to pull him up. But, I can still remember his petrified face! Going ahead, we encountered around 6 rapids. Each rapid was a unique experience in itself. Some famous rapid names are Golf course, Three blind mice and Roller Coster, all belonging to Grade 3. The best rapid which you can encounter, while river rafting in Rishikesh, is called “The Wall”, a Grade 4 rapid. To experience The Wall, you might have to embark upon your adventure from Kaudiyala, 9 KMs further from Marine Bay.
The highlight of my experience of river rafting in Rishikesh was when I jumped in the river, left the boat rope and floated ecstatically in the waters. But, when it came to returning back to the raft, I was not able to swim towards it! I was trying to swim opposite to the river flow and I am not a great swimmer. In fact, I don’t know swimming. When I was trying to reach my raft, I was just beating my hands on water. Suddenly, I heard a roaring sound. We were approaching a grade 3 rapid! My instructor was yelling at me to return back soon! But, I was helpless. Moreover, the instructor’s voice was mumbled under the roaring river and created commotion in my head. I decided against swimming towards my raft and started swimming in the opposite direction, with the river flow and reached another raft. Luckily, I was able to reach the other raft before the rapid. I was certainly thrilled by the 5 minutes of fighting against the strong currents!
There was one stop before our river rafting session ended. We stopped at the cliff jumping spot. I didn’t find the spot very exciting and it was overcrowded. So, we decided to skip it.
After 4 hours of an adventure of lifetime, we finally reached safely close to laxman jhula, where every trip of river rafting in Rishikesh ends. Elated by our scintillating & refreshing experience, we started walking towards a hotel where our luggage must have reached.
1) There are 5 sites from where you can start your River rafting in Rishikesh; Brahmpuri (9KMs), Shivpuri (16KMs), Marine Bay (27KMs) and Kaudiyala (36KMs).
2) I would suggest you to decide which site should you choose after considering the points mentioned below
i) Brahmpuri – Suited for groups with kids, elders & people afraid of water. Highest Rapid Grade – 1
ii) Shivpuri – Suited for 1st timers. Difficulty level – Highest Rapid Grade – 3
iii) Marine Drive – Suited for experienced rafters & confident 1st timers. Highest Rapid Grade – 3
iv) Kaudiyala – Suited for rafters with good amount of experience. Highest Rapid Grade – 4
3) Before booking, make sure you know how many people will be present at your campsite. You wouldn’t want the campsite to be very crowded. Also, ask the tour company how secluded would the campsite be. You would appreciate being one with nature rather than listening to cacophony of vehicles.
4) There are a plethora of tour agents who sell packages. Make sure you know the inclusions before booking a package. You would’t want to pay more than Rs 1800 per person for the basic package: Kayaking, River Rafting, Camp stay & food.
Tips for first timers
1) Don’t panic! The life jackets are very safe and if you fall in the gushing waters while rafting, the life jacket will keep you floating for at-least 3 hours.
2) Rishikesh is very crowded during peak season, around May. Avoid this crowd and go in October, when the crowd is less and the whether is not excruciatingly hot! But, the water would be really cold. Be prepared to shiver!
3) If you are coming from Delhi, disembark at Haridwar and not Dehradun. It’s closer to Rishikesh.
4) Many campsites don’t have electricity. So, be prepared to not being able to charge any electronic device during your stay. Before going to the campsite, make sure you have fully charged devices.
That’s all from my side. Do let me know your Rishikesh experience. If you have not been to Rishikesh yet, please start planning. It’s awesome! Do you stay in South India? You can try river rafting in Dandeli also! You can read my Dandeli post here.