Believed to be one of the most challenging river-rafting experiences in the world, riding the great white waters of the Zanskar in Ladakh is a heady cocktail of thrill, skill and pumping adrenaline, says Ranjan Pal
The first Indian Responsible Tourism Summit and Awards, brought to you by Outlook Traveller and the World Responsible Tourism Awards was held in New Delhi on January 19, 2017 where Atali Ganga won the Sliver Award for the Best Responsible Tourism Property
The adventure travel industry has grown rapidly over the last few decades, expanding from an estimated $89 billion in 2010 to $263 billion in 2013, with an estimated four out of ten international travelers incorporating adventure activities into their travel plans.
A new chapter in Indian ecotourism is unfolding along the upper reaches of the country’s holiest river, where a ban on rafting camps and the area’s first upscale wilderness resort are contributing to a greener ethos on the white wat
Under the shadow of Mount Kailash, water from the glacier-fed Mansarovar Lake spills through the ‘Horse’s Mouth’ and begins its descent towards the great holy ‘Father River’ of Asia, the Brahmaputra. Meet the river that has no less than ten regional names.
Victoria Falls was once admired by explorers at a distance, today it is the playground for adventurers and adrenaline seekers. Dangle from 50 metres of elastic bungee cord, raft down the rapids or fly above it with the angels in a microlight. The rush is here.
Good physical conditioning is one of the keys and can make the difference between
enjoying an outing and merely enduring it. More importantly, the safety of the whole
party may hinge on the strength – or weakness- of one member.
A “ducky” is best described as a small, two-man inflatable kayak. “Only have a go in it if you’re thirsty for adventure!” advises trip leader Harendra “Gappu” Rawat. “You need to be happy with the idea of taking a few dips!” Thrill-addict that I am, I opted to trade my place in the relative comfort and safety of a big selfbailing raft for a front seat in the unstable ducky as we prepared to run the mighty Chookha, the biggest of the Kali Sarda’s infamous rapids
This is a very rocky one, so I need everyone to keep pa d dli ng t h r o ug h t he rapid. 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,” yells Rana in an attempt to be heard above the roaring river.
An expedition down the Mahakali 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, yet the Kali surpassed even my wildest expectations.
Slowly, slowly catch the monkey” was the bizarre mantra reverberating through my oxygen-deprived brain as we approached 6,000m. Vikram Hirani, one of our mountain guides, had spoken these wise words as we fastened crampons onto our snow boots and roped up at the foot of Stok Glacier five hours earlier.
Everybody get down!” yelled Vaibhav to his laid-back crew. I looked up to see the raft just ahead of ours get sucked into a big hole where it began to surf on the recirculating water. As the river thundered over a submerged rock, the pourover created a strong backwash that latched onto the 14-foot raft and prevented it from breaking free. The boat gyrated wildly as it surfed the powerful hydraulic. Bow paddler Rohan Guptan was the first to go.
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.
We have been running trips and tours for the discerning traveller throughout the Indian Himalayas since 1995, yet the experience of our travel personnel dates well beyond that, to years of leading trips throughout the Indian Himalayan belt.