Fresh breathe of air, mountains that know no bounds, Ganges that flows to faraway lands and spirituality that beckons every morsel of mankind, that’s Rishikesh for you. Recently, I had this opportunity to go on an adventure trip – Rishikesh River Rafting. Rowing the boat to another destination is a challenge because the voice of the water rapids is equal to the blood curdling voice of a roaring tiger.
No matter, how much I exaggerate about the trip, it will be less. It was one of a kind excursion especially for a tadpole like me.
We, a group of six started our trip on 6th May evening and ended it on 8th May night. Since, the objective was only to raft the boat through life rolling water rapids; we didn’t have the luxury to savor other things in the city. I am putting down ten things that you should keep in mind while you decide to go for rafting. There they go:
- Follow the guide strictly – Just when we started the ride, our guide alerted us on the dangers of rafting and that it gives no guarantee of anything. All rafters are supposed to follow what the guide says line by line. At the start of the ride, he explains how to sit, row, and use the equipment. He also explains what to do when he says ‘forward’, ‘lock your feet’ ‘stop’ etc. Slight carelessness in following the guidelines can cost your life. Row with care!
- Avoid clicking pictures – Though, at the start itself the guide takes away your belongings and puts them in a waterproof bag. Many a times, it has been learnt that people do not pay heed to the guide and take selfies in the middle of rafting. On a strict basis, avoid taking pictures. Accidents have been recorded where someone tried to take a selfie and unfortunately got swept away by the water.
- Embrace life jacket like an asset – Whosoever named the jacket as ‘life jacket’ definitely knew the purpose to the core. It’s a thick jacket tightly knotted to one’s jacket. In fact, it is so tight that often people find it difficult to breathe. But, it is calculatingly worn that way as the water is so strong that only a heavily built and tightly knotted jacket can save one during adversity. Never ever, loosen your jacket during the ride. Our group member who sat at the first place got one jolt of rapid and BAM! she was out of the boat. Kudos to the guide who used some trick to get back the lady. Now, she is known as ‘the girl who almost drowned’.
- Lock your feet – By this, it means, you are supposed to lock your feet underneath the sections inside the raft. The guide explains which foot to lock forward and backward respectively. Every time, your guide mentions to ‘lock’, understand a rapid is round the corner and you should get ready. They moment he instructs to unlock, you can relax. But, follow these instructions on a mandatory basis, as only locked feet can keep you protected from sweeping away in water.
- Keep a track on health issues – It is extremely important to understand if you are healthy and strong enough to go for river rafting in Rishikesh. People with weak heart, back ache, shoulder issues, cervical etc. should avoid this activity as it calls for lot of physical exertion. Our guide shared a horrendous experience where a lady got a heart attack upon seeing the rapid approaching and died on the spot.
- Know your capacity – Never try to blindly follow your friends. Always, understand your own probability and accordingly take the leap. Among young people, it’s a strange trend to ape peers and pursue something their heart is not ready with. If you are not mentally and physically prepared for an adventure like this, do not go for it. It is not a competition to prove oneself. Several unfortunate accidents are recorded every year in Rishikesh where young people die a tragic death. Remember, your mother is waiting for at home. I do not wish to discourage you, but I simply want to ring a bell in mind of the consequences of such a daunting activity. If you are ready, nothing can stop you but just remember to follow the guide. Rest is going to be a win win story.
- Wear light clothes – Always wear light clothes for rafting such as t-shirts, Bermudas, loose pants etc. Avoid saree, salwar kameez, kurta, and thick clothes. Light apparels shall help you to easily wear the jacket and not feel overburdened. Our guide during his initial years in career lost his pants in water and couldn’t come out of water till ‘HELP’ arrived. Thank heavens!
- Cliff jumping – your call – After a certain distance, the guide takes you to the Maggie point where not only can you slurp hot Maggie but also try your hands on cliff jumping. There is a certain way of jumping which mostly experts know. Do not jump just because every Tom, Dick and Harry is doing so. Ask your guide or someone who sounds profound in the field. Learn the way of jumping before doing it, should one lean forward or backward? take a high breath or low? Ask all questions. Go for it only if your heart allows to. One can see multitudes of people all gearing up to jump from the cliff, expert and amateur both. My friend who persuaded me to do the jump himself got hurt in his lips and balls (the struggle was real). Remember, it is not your nearby pool but the iconic Ganges – fast, powerful and sharp. The water has the capacity to hurt you in all the wrong places. Just be careful and jump only if you are ready.
- Only young people to take the ride – While doing the ride, I did see a few elderly (above middle aged) people doing the sport with full vigor. I appreciate it whole heartedly but considering that elderly people have more heart issues and related, I do not feel too comfortable about their rafting activity. People between 20 to 40 years of age are ideal for the adventure trip doing the rafting under surveillance.
- Do not drink and Raft – I was exasperated at the fact that people had the audacity to do rafting in drunken state. It was our own experience where three of our co-passengers in the raft were inebriated and were continuously commenting on us, our guide and the other fellow rafters. We heard from the guide that how just two days before our trip; a young man died during rafting as he was drunk and decided to loosen his jacket. Life is yours, treat it with respect and love.
P.S. – Our guide fell down in river when one of the rapids hit our raft. Just sharing.