Well its not necessary to be a fitness freak to enjoy the thrills of riding the wild Himalayan white waters. Beginners would however be well-advised to join one of the various established instructors to learn the rudiments of river running, or white water rafting as it is popularly called.
Going on a raft with an experienced river guide is akin to hopping a lift on a space shuttle. With sturdy helmets, buoyancy aids and instructors at the controls, you have little to worry about.
River guides are also trained for rescue and to provide with competent professional guides, these sports should not be considered dangerous. At the same time you must appreciate the element of risk inherent in all adventure sports. It is important for river runners, to know the grading of the river that they intend emergency first aid in case of injury.
Risk/Skill Factor Running:
All rivers could be graded on a scale varying from grade 1 to grade 6. The grading indicates the state of water stretches and the skill level required to negotiate them. The same river could be graded differently at different places and grading also depends upon the time of the year, i.e. monsoon or non-monsoon period. Rivers rapids are graded as follows, and it is a good idea to check the scale with your guide before setting off:
- Grade I – Easy, small waves. No obstacles.
- Grade II – Moderate difficulty with clear passages.
- Grade III – Difficult, high irregular waves, narrow passages, requires precise maneuvering.
- Grade IV – Very difficult, powerful waves, very precise maneuvering.
- Grade V – Extremely difficult, long, violent, and highly congested. Team of experts only.
- Grade VI – Unrunnable. Suicidal.
How deep is the River? Must I know how to swim?
It is not a necessity as long as you don’t fear the water. You are provided a life jacket which will keep you afloat even if you do fall overboard – which isn’t common.
What kind of experience and participation is required?
No previous experience is necessary. You may participate by ‘paddling’, and so help power the raft. Complete control rests with your professional and very experienced river guide. He will tell you exactly what to do. Safety procedures are detailed prior to every trip.
What are the requirements for running the different expeditions?
The Alaknanda river expedition may be done by first timers. The Bhagirathi river expedition is for people with some previous white water experience.
What do I need to bring for a rafting trip?
T shirts, Shorts or light pants, river sandals or tennis shoes without shocks, suns cream, sun glasses
Can children go rafting?
The minimum age for a complete rafting trip is 12 years. Children below 12 may be given certain stretches of the river, but this totally depends on the discretion of the river guide, and the existing water levels.