With a major chunk of the Himalayas in the country, India has excellent white water rafting/kayaking potential including several rivers still awaiting first descent. The variety of flora and fauna combined with the rich cultural heritage and hospitable people all along the Indian Himalayas make rafting trips in this region unforgettable experience. Most of the river running itineraries can be combined with a trek, a wildlife safari and a cultural tour in the area.
The Indus River (Ladakh / Jammu & Kashmir)
Indus River is also known as 'Lion River'. The Indus River flows in the desert region of Ladakh through the Leh valley. This river is one of the most scenic white water runs anywhere in the Himalayas. A day on the Indus River presents the visitor with a different perspective of the scenic attractions of this Ladakh City. The river passes through Canyons in the Ladakh and Zanskar ranges; the landscape is breath taking. From the river, ancient gompas and monasteries, many containing frescoes and statues 700 or 800 years old can be seen.
The river offers most popular day trips from Phey to Nimmu and also from Upshi to Khaltsi. During your stay in Leh, you must experience the rafting on this river. Four to five day trips are organised for rafting. The icy cold and clear water of the Indus River offers variations for all grades of enthusiasts. It combines a wilderness white water trip on the run through the barren valley on either side. A two-day option at Indus can begin at Phey, with several easy rapids, passing through the gorges of Niemo valley and then continuing to Alchi where camp may be set.
The Zanskar River (Ladakh / Jammu & Kashmir)
Zanskar River originates from the high altitude plateau of Sarchu on the border of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. It is from the confluence of the Tsarap and Stod rivers that the mighty Zanskar takes birth. The Zanskar is known more for its dramatic beauty than its thrills. The Zanskar River can offer a professional, an exciting six days on the river, starting from Padum. The rapids are frequent, and can be dangerous. Only experienced rafters should attempt Ladakh challenging rivers. This river expedition takes you through one of the most breathtaking gorges in Asia.
The Teesta River (Darjeeling / West Bengal)
From the arctic Himalayas to the plain terrain of Bay of Bengal flows the gushing, foaming, white water Teesta also known as the lifeline of the state, originating from the mysterious Cho Lhamu Lake and cutting centrally through Sikkim.
Rafting on the Teesta and Rangeet rivers offers everything from gentle rides through amazing mountain views and lush canyon vegetation to white water for the experienced rafter only. A trip on the Teesta will probably take you from Makha to Rongpo, while adventures down the Rangeet go from Sikip to Melli.
The Ganges River (Uttarakhand)
River Ganga is the most holy river of the Hindus. The story of Ganga begins from its source in Gaumukh in the Garhwal Himalayas. The sacred river ‘Ganga’ offers the professional as well as the amateur the exhilaration of white water rafting. It offers a lot of thrills and adventures to the rafters. The ‘Alakananda’ and ‘Bhagirathi’ are the main tributaries of the Ganga and meet at Deoprayag, frothing from their racy descent. Like all the seasons, the mood and colour of the river also changes. Down river from Deoprayag, the Ganga changes into a pool drop river. This stretch of almost 70 kms is perfect for amateur and the novice. The slopes on each side are covered with oak, pine, spruce and fir trees. Deoprayag to Rishikesh is an exhilarating two-day trip and the most exciting of the entire river running trips in India.
The Kali Ganga River (Uttarakhand)
In Kumaon, the Kali Ganga (Sharda) flows down from the Nepal border, through Kumaon Hills. It flows for a considerable distance along the border of Kumaon (India) and Nepal. This river is formed after the confluence of two main headwaters: the river Kalapani is its eastern headwaters and the river Kuthi Yankti forms the western headwaters of the river Kali. Both these headwaters join to form the Kali at the base of the main Himalayan range. It flows into the Ghagra in the plains of Bihar where this river is known as the Sharda. The valley of the Kali River is steep. The Kali and the Gori rivers meet at Jauljibi. Where the water volume increases, offering adventures to professionals.
Lower down among the forested slopes, the river become calmer offering the amateur a sporting challenge before flowing out into the plains of Uttar Pradesh. Mahakali Ganga River flows along the border between India and Nepal. A self contained river journey as well as the expedition or mega trip up to Tanakpur can be undertaken. This expedition takes you through splendid scenery in a region abundant with wildlife and bird life and white water thrills.
The Alaknanda River (Uttarakhand)
Alaknanda is the main tributary of the Mighty Ganga. This beautiful river passes from Rudraprayag to Rishikesh. While rafting on this river one can enjoy watching rich and abundant Himalayan Bird life and beautiful mountain villages. Expect good rapids, historic temples, and good vistas of the Himalayan campsites on secluded beaches.
The Bhagirathi River (Uttarakhand)
The Bhagirathi River is the tributary of River Ganga. This river ranges through spectacular valleys and gorges till Deoprayag where it merges with the Alakananda River to become one of the world’s most revered and sacred rivers – Ganga. Bhagirathi is one of the most beautiful and scenic rivers in the Garhwal Himalayas. The Bhagirathi is one of the most challenging white water rivers in the Indian Himalayas.
The Brahmaputra River (Asom)
Rafting down the mighty Brahmaputra with its icy cold waters from just below its source of snow capped mountains, gushing down to the plains of Assam is not an easy task. Rafting over its massive waves would be the greatest feat of thrill, excitement and human endurance. Rafting down the Brahmaputra River holds the same challenge for the rafters as the Everest holds for the Mountaineers. With their pure blue and cascading white water rapids, Brahmaputra makes a cascading view and keeps on alluring with their attraction time and again.