River rafting in one of the most scenic places in India, Leh, is a dream for most of us. Khushi Shah, one of our bloggers, has lived this dream. As Khushi shares her wonderful experience with us, she also provides a lot of insights that will be helpful for your rafting adventure.
Here’s what she has to say:
When I embarked on my tri-annual holiday this year, I was determined to make optimum use of the go pro adventure camera I’d purchased with the hope of attracting adventure in my life. A trip to the scenic Leh Ladakh proved to be the right choice.
My family and I had decided to not only visit Leh Ladakh but also combine Kashmir in this trip. Everyday seemed like an adventure when it came to driving around in Kashmir. You’d have the amazing view on one side and a cliff on the other.
The most treacherous experience was the road from Sonmarg to Leh, which passed through two of the most dangerous and highest passes in the world.
Once in Leh, I spoke to the other tourists and found out that river rafting in Leh was quite an unusual experience in comparison to rafting anywhere.
I signed up for one of the longest 3 hour rafting sessions immediately and was bombarded with information about safety and health cautions. In a normal rafting experience, you can wear your normal clothes, helmet and life jacket. While rafting in Leh, you have to wear a wetsuit so that you don’t end up dying of hypothermia.
I was told, that if we fell in the water, we would have only 3 minutes before hypothermia set in as the water could be as cold as 2 to -2 degrees Celsius. The rafting experience was organised by ‘Camp Wet n Wild’ for INR 1400 which included my wetsuit, safety gear, lunch and travel.
Laden with all this information and along with a bunch of people from all nationalities packed up like sardines in a bus, I finally set out at 8 in the morning for ‘Chilling’ which was supposed to be our base for rafting.
Our camp instructor warmly welcomed us. He was from New York and he volunteered every year for the past three years at this campsite, for the 4 months that rafting was open. The campsite was 28 kms away from our starting point.
We were asked to change into our wetsuit, which was a task given how cold it was! We slathered on sunscreen, because the weather could swiftly change from chilly to sunny here. We wore the shoes that were provided to us.
Quivering with excitement and nervousness, we boarded the bus, which took us to our starting point. We all had done rafting before, but this was going to be different! The water was colder than anywhere else. The grades of the rapids were till Grade 5, which is risky. We had trained kayakers with us who were here to pull us to safety in case we fell in.
After a fairly bumpy and sweaty ride, we reached the starting point and were briefed about the safety instructions once again and were taught the ways to harness our life jackets, helmets, how to row a raft, the signs that we had to use if we were in trouble. Basically, how to stay alive!
We were 16 of us and we were divided equally in two rafts. The rafts were dropped in, and we climbed down a rocky slope to reach the rafts. Once we were settled, our safety kayakers splashed us with water to get us used to the temperature and to indicate what was in store for us.
I was a part of Team Red and we were the one’s leading which meant we faced every rapid first.
We started off with great gusto and soon came our first rapid – Grade 1. This was fairly easy to manoeuvre but we got splashed anyway! I felt so grateful for the wetsuit.
Our raft leader made us try different seating positions throughout the 3-hour trip to make it more fun and exhilarating. We even stood on the rims of our rafts with our oars supporting our entire weight and crossed a grade 2 rapid.
Team Blue had their raft capsizing two times and we all had to row furiously to get to them in time and rescue everyone.
We cheered after every rapid that we crossed successfully and booed the other team that didn’t.
We did our best to fall in, but despite all efforts managed to stay in the raft.
We were all sitting in anticipation for the Grade 4 rapid. It was going to be tricky, risky and oh so exciting!
As we turned around a bend in the Zanskar River, we could hear the roar of the water, which drowned out all our conversation. Instinctively, everybody in the raft fell silent and only our team leader’s instructions could be heard. We rowed in sync towards the rapid and oh boy, it was huge, angry and rocky. Putting all our strength in sticking to our seats, we crossed it and were soon in calm waters.
We collectively breathed a sigh of relief and were just glad that we didn’t fall in. It was just so exhilarating and exhausting at the same time.
After the Grade 4 rapid, there were the smaller one’s and then our 28 km, 3 hour long winding journey came to an end. Since, we had managed to stay in all this while, we voluntarily jumped into the water to enjoy the water, till we were quickly hauled up back to the raft fearing hypothermia.
We got of our rafts and headed to the bus which had come to pick us up and drop us at the camp base. Our arms and thighs were aching with all the effort it took us to stay in, we were tanned beyond our imagination despite being covered in wetsuits and needless to say, hungry enough to eat a lion!
Once we reached the campsite, we quickly got out of our wetsuits, showered and changed. To our surprise, none of us were feeling even remotely cold despite it being 6 degrees. The campsite had arranged for simple yet sumptuous lunch and we wolfed it down like we hadn’t eaten in days!
After exchanging numbers, email id’s and numerous travel conversations, we headed back to Leh with memories that would last a lifetime!
It was indeed the best rafting experience!
A blog post by Khushi Shah
Posted by Supriya Dubey
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