Rafting or white water rafting is one of the challenging recreational outdoor activity using an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other bodies of water having different levels of water-current. This is usually done on white water or different degrees of rough water, in order to thrill and excite the raft passengers. Rafting is considered an extreme sport, as it can be dangerous as times. This Photo Journey shares some of the photographs of Rafting in Risikesh, which is one of the popular places in India to do White Water Rafting.
Recently we were in Rishikesh with office friends and Rafting was one of the top item in our list of things we wanted to do. We started in bus from Aspen Camps in Rishikesh and then boarded to jeeps with rafts. We had to start from Marine Drive which is a huge Ganges beach with enough space for folks to prepare and get started. Marine Drive is a place, strategically identified to start Rafting. Shivpuri is another preferred place to start Rafting. Idea is to make people comfortable with various types of water-rapids and then gradually start enjoying various stretches in river. Ganges provides a good range of water rapids and makes rafting an unmatchable experience.
Rishieksh is one of the main places to do rafting in North India. Long time back I had done rafting in Vyas River near Kullu and that time all other rafters were professionals and I was covering a particular camp for Tourism Development program. Since I was not much involved in rafting activities, I couldn't enjoy it much that time. At Rishikesh, we had a wonderful coach/leader, who made rafting experience as great fun.
After reaching Marine Drive Ganges beach, everyone of us got life jackets, a pedal and helmet. All three important things were with us and coach told us the best ways of using these three. All set with tight life-jacket, well settled helmet and appropriately gripped pedals we stepped into the raft after cleaning our feet in ganges water. It's recommended not to bring sand particles inside the raft, which can harm later. The coach threw chilling ganges water on us to start the journey in chilled water of ganges with different current levels. Coach with one of other Rafting professional entered into the raft. Then he briefed everyone of us about different commands like fast forward, move backward, stop etc. Initially it was difficult for us to gram every details of each command, but every command was very important for best rafting experience.
Apart from basic Rafting commands, coach/leader also tells about basic rules of White Water Rafting. He also understands about each person sitting in the raft about their past experience with water. He also shares some basic steps for people who are not comfortable while sitting in raft. Of course, there are some standard rules to sit on a raft and make yourself comfortable even when body needs to stick with raft through feet in a particpular position. The Thumb rule is to listen your coach and follow him without any alternation, even in difficult situation. Idea is to trust the coach/Leader and follow his/her commands with any panic.
So we started with baby steps and raft started moving towards Rishikesh (Lakshman Jhoola). For first 10 minutes, we were really slow and it was more of practice session, wehere coach was making us prepared for following his commands throughout the whole stretch we had to do in river. After practicing all the commands and moving our raft in circle, coach/leader asked us to stand on boundaries of raft and balance with pedal mounted on raft top. None of us could gather courage to stand on the boundaries and negotiated with coach/leader to stand inside the raft and try to balance with pedals. It was one of the major test for us and raft moves a lot. Many times, some of us stumbled and others were getting impacted because of imbalance. This task completed and coach/leader asked us to move forward.
First we encountered Good Morning Rapid which is the beginning of Rafting experience. Good Morning rapid always come of the way and it doesn't matter that what was your starting point :). It was very basic but yet exciting because of first encounter with relatively fast flow of water-waves. Before hitting the rapid, some of the screaming while others were laughing to hide the fear :)
All these photograph in this Photo Journey are clicked day before we did rafting. One day before we did rafting, we kept going to different places around river bed to shoot rafts sailing through high rapids of Ganges white water. Above photograph shows one of the raft getting up side down at Golf Course. One of the other leader jumped into the water to rescue raft and then every rafter. Within 5-8 minutes everyone was back on top of raft and moved forward towards Laxman Jhoola, which was end point. In such situations, ideally, everyone should listen carefully to what leader says and follow with panic. Things can get worse in case of avoidance of leader commands.
The modern rafts are inflatable boats, consisting of very durable, multi-layered rubberized (hypalon) or vinyl fabrics (PVC) with several independent air chambers. The length varies between 3.5 meters and 6 meters, the width between 1.8 meters and 2.5 meters. The exception to this size rule is usually the packraft, which is designed as a portable single-person raft and may be as small as 1.5 metres long and weigh as little as 1.8 kilograms.
Rafts come in a few different forms. In Europe and Australasia, the most common is the symmetrical raft steered with a paddle at the stern. Other types are the asymmetrical, rudder-controlled raft and the symmetrical raft with central helm (oars) or Stern Mounts with the oar frame located at the rear of the raft. Rafts are usually propelled with ordinary paddles and or oars and typically hold 4 to 12 persons. In Russia, rafts are often hand made and are often a catamaran style with two inflatable tubes attached to a frame. Pairs of paddlers navigate on these rafts. Catamaran style rafts have become popular in the western United States as well, but are typically rowed instead of paddled.
Check out more at - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rafting
After Good-Morning rapid, we crossed - Black Money, Three Blind Miles, Cross Fire, Shivpuri, Return to center, Roller Coaster, Tea off, Golf Course, Club House, Initiation, Body Surfing, maggie point & Cliff jumping, Double Trouble, Hilton and fianally Ram Jhoola. I went till Golf Course only and most of the other rafts from our group ended at Lakshman Jhoola.
The most suitable time for River Rafting in Rishikesh is from September to November and from March to April-May. One of the best rivers in the world to experience the sheer exhilaration of white water rafting, it is the sheer invincible power of the Ganga river that often attracts the adventurer to the challenging sport of river rafting at Rishikesh.
Generally White Water Rapids are divided into 6 levels of difficulty.
Grade 1: Very small rough areas, might require slight maneuvering. (Skill Level required is very Basic)
Grade 2: Some rough water, maybe some rocks, might require some maneuvering. (Skill level: basic paddling skill)
Grade 3: Whitewater, small waves, maybe a small drop, but no considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering. (Skill level: experienced paddling skills)
Grade 4: Whitewater, medium waves, maybe rocks, maybe a considerable drop, sharp maneuvers may be needed. (Skill level: whitewater experience)
Grade 5: Whitewater, large waves, large volume, possibility of large rocks and hazards, possibility of a large drop, requires precise maneuvering. (Skill level: advanced whitewater experience)
Grade 6: Class 6 rapids are considered to be so dangerous that they are effectively unnavigable on a reliably safe basis. Rafters can expect to encounter substantial whitewater, huge waves, huge rocks and hazards, and/or substantial drops that will impart severe impacts beyond the structural capacities and impact ratings of almost all rafting equipment. Traversing a Class 6 rapid has a dramatically increased likelihood of ending in serious injury or death compared to lesser classes. (Skill level: successful completion of a Class 6 rapid without serious injury or death is widely considered to be a matter of great luck or extreme skill and is considered by some as a suicidal venture)
In Rishikesh, we have crossed rapids of Level-3 difficulty as max. But it was great fun to face level three rapids. Water comes on to your body and pushes back and sometimes people get down into the water due to thrust.
White water rafting can be a dangerous sport at times, especially if basic safety precautions are not observed. Both commercial and private trips have seen their share of injuries and fatalities, though private travel has typically been associated with greater risk. Depending on the area, safety regulations covering raft operators may exist in legislation. These range from certification of outfitters, rafts, and raft leaders, to more stringent regulations about equipment and procedures. It is generally advisable to discuss safety measures with a rafting operator before signing on for a trip. The equipment used and the qualifications of the company and raft guides are essential information to be considered.
Like most outdoor sports, rafting in general has become safer over the years. Expertise in the sport has increased, and equipment has become more specialized and increased in quality. As a result the difficulty rating of most river runs has changed.