All ready to war with the river…
Rishikesh is ‘the’ place to go for white water rafting… Rishikesh is ‘the’ place to go to see some babas holding chillums; smoking on the streets… Rishikesh is where the Beatles made music and it is to Rishikesh that we took a few women travellers for their first rafting experience.
The camping experience
The camps were located atop one of the beautiful ranges of the mountain and we hiked in the dark with the local guides and porters directing us. Have you ever been in a place where there is not much noise around you and hence everything you speak seems to echo? That was the first impression I got as I walked up the uneven path. All we could hear on the way up was the birds, as we were surrounded by trees on all sides. As we stood around our rafting guides, they explained the camp rules and I heard gasps and turned to witness a look of shock cross the travellers’ face. Apparently, not many knew about eco-friendly washrooms. However, women with us enjoyed the experience (of course there was a bottle of sanitizer accompanying them everywhere they went!)
Mornings in Rishikesh, especially away from the populated town are amazing. I woke up to the calls of the birds chirping and the water flowing in the river. The cold made it almost impossible for me to wake up, after all, there is nothing like snoozing on a cold day. However, I was excited about rafting!
Parul, one of the travellers with WOW in the raft!
Rafting rapids in Rishikesh
We headed out about 15 minutes from our camp and came to the starting point. Our rafting guide explained all the rules, with wit and humour just like our life guard who would be kayaking with us. All of us got our armour and suited up for a two and half hour rafting trip. I was perhaps nervous, you see, because I didn’t know swimming. I was told once and again that it wouldn’t be a hindrance to my experience, especially with the life jacket. After a couple practice runs of rowing forward, backward and jumping in the boat we were deemed ready. We headed out on two different rafts and kept splashing cool water till we made our way across our first rapid.
In the beginning, the rapids were small and gradually the rapids seemed more ‘happening’. Now, one must know that all the rapids in Rishikesh have interesting names. The first rapid was called the ‘Black Money’, and I was excited by the rush of water and the sudden movement of the raft as you row forward or backward as directed by the guide! As we crossed ‘Golf Course’ and ‘Three Blind Mice’, we relaxed a bit because it didn’t seem that difficult to navigate through the water with a guide. And that’s when ‘Double Trouble’ happened. This rapid is Grade two and we had a sneak peek into what grade four rapids would be like as water and raft seemed to be in headlock. No wonder adrenaline junkies go for this!
Lifeguard Dave lets a WOW traveller pose in his Kayak!!
Smile and ‘wave’
That day we rafted across different rapids like ‘Hilton’, ‘Terminator’, ‘Club House’, ‘Roller Coaster’, ‘Little Anne’, ‘Cash’ and more. It was exhilarating to raft in the cold clear sea green water, with streaks of sunlight here and there. Our guide told all of us to jump off the raft and hold on to the raft. I was of course adamant in the beginning seeing as I didn’t know swimming. However, once I got the guts to jump (no way was I missing all the fun the others seem to be having) it was like nothing I have ever done before. Have you floated along a river surrounded by tall trees with streaks of warm and sunlight from within the trees? I closed my eyes and all I heard was the river and the birds. All of us seemed to enjoy the silence. We looked at the sky and smiled.
It was like all our urban worries floated away with the river and we were invigorated. We had apparently rafted through Grade III rapids and the next day, we were informed, was going to be one of the toughest rapids called ‘The Wall’.
After we successfully faced ‘The Wall’
As we headed for ‘The Wall’, our guide calmed all of us down. And suddenly, we noticed the big rapid in front of us. I could feel my pulse raising and the guide yelled at us to row forward. It was an instant before we realized that ‘The Wall’ is not just a name, because we felt like we banged straight onto a wall. The force was exciting. It lasted not more than a few minutes but those minutes seem to drag on for eternity as we rowed forward. This was surely a one-of-a-kind experience that can never be duplicated…