Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rishikesh River Rafting

Ganges River in Rishikesh, India
I have this irrational fear of unfamiliar water.  Canoeing a gentle river is one thing.  Rafting down class III rapids is quite another.  Yet somehow I let my darling husband convince me  it was a good idea to leave the safety and comfort of our sanctuary in the Himalayan foothills to go rafting down the Ganges River!  "After all how many times will we be in India?  We may never get this chance again.  Besides the rapids are small, we won't go down the big part, it will be more like canoeing really", he said.  I would have preferred hiking through the lush rainforest instead, but being married, sometimes you make sacrifices.
Another couple, who were friends from home, had decided to join us.  My friend was pretty nervous too which made me feel better.  We sat in the back of a tiny pick-up truck as the Nepalese rafting guides drove us down a crazy mountain road to the banks of the Mighty Ganges River. The steep mountain forests surrounding us did little to calm my spirit as the head guide went through all the safety precautions.  I didn't have a problem with the handing out of life jackets, but I think my face went pale as he nonchalantly described how to free yourself when stuck under a flipped raft.  Great, I thought.  The guides don't say things like that on canoe trips!  To my overactive imagination his warnings did not resemble a flight attendants speech before take off.  I felt a wall of impending doom wash over me.  My stomach twisted in knots.  I contemplated backing out, but before I could make up my mind I was climbing in the blue rubber raft.
We pushed away from the shore.  The water was calm but murky.  I wondered what creatures lurked in the depths beneath us.  I scanned the river ahead.  We were approaching the first rapids.  I followed our guide's instructions like a soldier obeys his general.  He said, "paddle" and I paddled as if my life depended on it.  Everyone else in the boat started whooping it up thinking this was great fun.  Even my friend acted like we were on some roller coaster ride.  In an instant, we had passed over it and the river widened and softened, tricking me into thinking it was harmless.  I knew there were more rapids to come so my senses remained on high alert.  We passed through a couple more small rapids without too much difficulty.  But soon the soft bank of the river changed to steep rock faces.  The water around me boiled with activity. Our little blue boat barely missed the jagged boulders just peeking out from under the water's surface.  And then I saw the most frightening sight I had ever seen.  A wall of water that must have been 12 feet high towered above us.  My mind raced to thoughts of my kids and how I hoped that we weren't about to make them orphans.  I cursed myself for leaving them at home and for being talked into this craziness.  Our guide yelled "paddle".  I clenched the oar so tightly nothing could have broken my grip.  I focused only on me and the water and I prayed.  I don't understand how our tiny vessel didn't flip, but we crested that wave and slid down the other side as if it had been a water slide.  Only then was I aware that the guides in the boat were teasing me...mocking my seriousness. I realized that I was the only one in the whole boat who wasn't wet!  Our guides were such experts at navigating this river that they actually controlled who got soaked.  I finally had to laugh.   I allowed myself to enjoy the sights of cows wandering to the river bank and the sounds of monkeys howling in the nearby trees.  There was one more rapids to go over ....this time I whooped and hollered like the rest of them... I also got soaked.


Monkeys watching our adventure


Our rafting team with expert guides!


  1. Awesome! :) Sounds like it was an amazing adventure and i love how you took me through your experience. I would have felt the exact same way!

  2. Now that sounds like a true adventure.

  3. It looks beautiful and happy. God Bless and keep you safe over the Easter break. From the land of Oz.

  4. How fun. My wife is terrified of water. Great pictures sounds like lots of fun.

  5. Hi Kathryn .. what an experience and I'm so pleased you didn't miss it - and you enjoyed it in the end ..

    Fantastic opportunity .. superb ..

    Cheers good to see you .. Hilary

  6. Thanks so much for all the wonderful comments. Hope you are all enjoying your weekend.

  7. I am so glad I didn't know exactly what was happening, but I was happy that I was praying for you all that day.Love, Mom

  8. Nice Article! Thanks for sharing with us.

    Rishikesh Camping

  9. Thank you very much for taking more time and effort to share this very nice and wonderful topic with us, I truly appreciate it.

  10. Rishikesh is a very popular spot for white water rafting and other adventure activities. Thank you for sharing..

    river rafting tips