Rafting on River Zanskar (Ladakh)
Rafting on River Zanskar
“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 rivers had whirlpools (okay, let’s ignore that fact for now). And I obediently followed his instructions (well most of the times).
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Background to the story
To give a little bit of background. 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, which is in the Nimmu valley. This is a picturesque and fascinating point for the visitors of Ladakh and one of the must sees when in Ladakh.
To know more about the Sangam, read Sangam in Ladakh.
On last day of our travels in Ladakh, my friend Akshata and I had decided to do rafting on the beautiful River Zanskar. There are many travel agencies in Leh where the activity can be booked.
Rafting on River Zanskar is one of its kind as it is at an altitude of 16000 feet which makes it the highest rafting in the World.
Options for rafting
There are three options to do the rafting:
- First is 28 kilometers (Chilling to Sangam),
- Second is 14 kilometers (Schorpochay to Sangam) and
- Third is 8 kilometers (Tsogsti to Sangam).
One 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 and if you are scared of water and is not confident, ensure to sit close to the instructor who sits at the back of the raft.
We opted for the second option which was rafting from Schorpochay to Sangam, arounds 14 kilometers. And it had costed us 1600 Indian Rupees (USD 26) including transportation and lunch. We booked with one of the agencies that we found while walking around the Leh city.
On the day of rafting
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 for rafting was another short drive from the base site. Our rafts were ready at the starting point and the rafting guides were prepping themselves for rafting.
We were informed about the rescue and security measures before the start of our rafting activity. 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.
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.
The 14 kilometers rafting on River Zanskar was through the beautiful gorges and the sights were spectacular. The rafting itself was for two hours. I enjoyed everything about the experience, the rafting, the jumps into River Zanskar and River Indus, which were really awesome and cool, our guide who was very friendly and the views of the mountain ranges. I would love to do it again when I am in Ladakh the next time.
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.
Is Ladakh safe for solo female travelers?
Honestly, I went to Ladakh with a tour agency Trails with Tales run by Simran 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 the surroundings especially at nights.
I would suggest staying at home stays as they are very safe. But ensure to read the reviews of those home stays before deciding on one of them.
Rafting is a lot of fun. I had done it a few times before in India, twice at Dandeli and once at Rishikesh. It is an adventurous activity and it provides the adrenaline required. I would definitely recommend this experience and would add it as a must do in Ladakh.