Nestled in the heart of the majestic Himalayas in Ladakh, Zanskar River Rafting beckons adventurers with the promise of an unparalleled journey through nature’s rugged grandeur. This adrenaline-fueled expedition invites thrill-seekers to navigate the tumultuous and fast rapids of the Zanskar River, a waterway that carves its course through some of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes.
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About Sangam in Ladakh
Ladakh has two main ranges:
- The Himalayan range and
- The Zanskar range.
River Indus which is the backbone of Ladakh originates from the Himalayan range and River Zanskar originates from the Zanskar range. The confluence of these two rivers is called the Sangam in Ladakh, which is in the Nimmu valley. This is a picturesque and fascinating point for the visitors of Ladakh and one of the photographed places in Ladakh.
Zanskar River Rafting Details
Zanskar River Rafting is one of its kind as it is at an altitude of 16000 feet which makes it the highest rafting in the world. On last day of our travels in Ladakh, my friend and I had decided to do rafting on the beautiful Zanskar river.
What is Rafting?
Rafting is a recreational activity that uses a raft to navigate on a river or water body. The current of the river and the rapids make rafting a very adventurous activity. Even though rafting is not considered as a very dangerous activity, there are slight chances of small injuries.
Do you need to know how to swim for rafting?
Simple answer is no, you don’t. You can go for rafting even if they do not know how to swim. All the people on the raft have to wear life jackets for safety purposes. If you are scared of water / are not confident, ensure to sit close to the instructor who sits at the back of the raft.
Where and How Do I book the Rafting?
You can book the Zanskar River Rafting at any of the agency in Leh (capital city of Ladakh). On the main street, there are plenty of these travel agents. You can walk into any of them to book your expedition tour.
What are the Different Options for Rafting?
There are three options for Zanskar River Rafting:
- First is 28 kilometers (Chilling to Sangam),
- Second is 14 kilometers (Schorpochay to Sangam) and
- Third is 8 kilometers (Tsogsti to Sangam).
We opted for the second option which was rafting from Schorpochay to Sangam, arounds 14 kilometers. And the cost of the second rafting option at that time was Rupees 1600 (USD 26) per person. The cost included the transportation and lunch. We booked the tour with one of the agencies that we found while walking around the Leh city.
- Note that the price for rafting has increased and for up-to-date prices, check with the tour agents in Leh.
Zanskar River Rafting Tour
We were picked from our home stay at around 8 AM and were driven to the base site. The base site is where we were given the security briefing, and the rafting gear. The starting point, Schorpochay, was another short drive from the base site. When we reached the site, our rafts were already ready and the guides were prepping themselves for the tour.
We were briefed about the rescue and security measures. At this moment, I had an eye contact with my instructor/ guide where I indicated about the the place I wanted, which was right at the front. During the briefing he announced, looking at me “We need somebody who is strong at the front as they are the drivers”. I spontaneously had said “I look like the way I am but I am pretty strong, don’t worry!” To which he had laughed and had asked me to sit at the front.
The 14 kilometers rafting on River Zanskar was through the beautiful gorges and valleys. The rafting itself was for two hours and the views of the surrounding places were breathtakingly beautiful.
We all were trained to row our rafts and go along the rapids and the river. The rapids provided the required adrenaline rush and was exhilarating. It was amazing!
When we had almost reached the Sangam (about 3 kilometres away), we all had opportunity to jump into River Zanskar from the raft. This was part of an exciting opportunity and some of us jumped without thinking much.
“Do you want to jump inside the water again?” asked my rafting instructor/ guide/ lead.
My eyes lit up. I was excited.
“What is the name of this river? The one we are rafting on?” I asked.
“Zanskar“, he replied.
“Let’s jump in Indus!” I screamed.
He grinned and agreed.
We rafted for another 2 to 3 kilometers and reached the Sangam.
He gave us the instructions – “Forward and fast“.
All of us got back to work and started rowing our paddles in the forward direction. It was difficult, very difficult in fact, as we were against the fast currents of the river. We did manage to slightly go up on River Indus against the current.
The instructor looked at me and said “Jump now! You have two minutes and after that we would land up in the Sangam.“
I excitedly turned and leaped inside the water, which was warmer than the water in River Zanskar. The instruction was to tightly hold the rope tied to the raft. I was told not to leave the rope at any point of time as the currents at both rivers were strong and both of them had whirlpools. And I obediently followed his instructions (well most of the times). And Oh-My-God what a wonderful experience that was!
I enjoyed everything about the experience, the rafting, the jumps into River Zanskar and River Indus, which were astonishing and cool. Our guide was very friendly and the views of the mountain ranges were stupendous. I highly recommend Zanskar river rafting when you are in Ladakh. Do not miss this adventure!
After the rafting, we were brought back to the base where we returned our rafting gear and had a delicious vegetarian lunch. At the end of the day, we were dropped at the home stay with lots of exciting memories.
Is Ladakh safe for solo female travelers?
I went to Ladakh with a tour agency Trails with Tales and we were a group of females traveling together. The reason was not because Ladakh is not famous for solo female travelers but because of the terrain and the altitude Ladakh is at.
Ladakh is one of the safest destinations for solo female travelers and many of my female friends have traveled alone. However, like any other place in the world, it is better to be cautious and knowing your surroundings, especially at nights.
I would also suggest staying at home stays as they are very safe. Ensure to read the reviews of the home stay before making any decision.
In conclusion, I say that Zanskar river rafting is one of the must-do and adventurous activities in Ladakh. It is so much fun and it will push boundaries and forge memories that echo far beyond the riverbanks. So, embrace the challenge, savor the rush, and let the Zanskar River Rafting be your extraordinary story of courage and adventure.
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