White water rafting or river rafting is an extreme recreational sport that uses an inflatable raft to navigate through a body of water and can be done by both amateurs and professionals. Of late this has become a popular corporate team building activity since the need for team building is a unique requirement to succeed in the sport. If you haven’t got a chance to experience this thrilling water sport yet then pack your bags and be ready to try it this summer.
The Thrill and excitement of the sport lies in the force & level of the rapids, which are nothing but rough patches on a flowing river and are measured in Grades. The grades range from 1-6 and the higher numbers indicate the roughness of the course.
Grade I and II rapids are considered easy and require minimal maneuvering skills as the waves are low and the flow of the water is not very fast. Grade III rapids are moderate and at times the strong currents and irregular waves make these difficult to maneuver without professional help. The rapids at Grade IV and V are considered slightly difficult and to some degree dangerous as there are intense waves and huge vertical drops in the flow of the river and therefore requires proper skill and precise maneuvering. Grade VI rapids are considered the toughest and the most dangerous and are limited to experts only
But like all adventure sport, irrespective of the grade of the rapid, it is extremely important to observe the safety norms and discipline.
While there are a lot of professional terms & techniques, for the amateur two of the main techniques used are called punching and high siding. Punching requires the crew to paddle the raft fast, so that it gains enough speed to push through the hydraulic current and high siding is used if the raft turns sideways, in order to prevent the raft from flipping, rafters move to its higher side to balance the raft.
India has a lot of exciting places that offers great rafting experience. The Ganges in Rishikesh, Beas in Kullu-Manali & Indus River in Ladakh are good for grade I – III rapids and suited for beginners. Tons river in Uttarakhand,Kameng & Lohit Rivers in Arunachal Pradesh, Zanskar in Ladakh, Kundalika in Maharashtra andBarapole River in Coorg are very good with level III-IV category rapids. Bhagirathi in Uttarakhand, Teesta in Sikkim and Brahmaputra in Arunachal not only have higher grade of rapids, the rafting there is for a longer distance of 150+ kms and therefore they are more of an expedition of 6-10 days than just a day of rafting. Serious rafting enthusiasts carry the entire camping equipment and raft down the river from one point to other.
One can experience the sport anytime between September to April with few of these places closing down during peak winters. The cost can range anything between INR 1500 to 6000 a day including stay and food. Its imperative to ensure the operator you chose has good equipment and follows all safety norms and procedures