Many rafting fanatics consider the mighty Brahmaputra the biggest white-water run in the world and, in fact, compare the river to the Colorado, White Nile or Zambezi. With waves as high as five meters, seemingly entirely consuming whirlpools and humungous holes, white-water rafting on this mind-blowing stretch is not for the faint-hearted! If, however, you are a rafter, this expedition is an absolute must.The Tsang Po, after flowing eastwards through Tibet, enters Arunachal Pradesh, where it is called the Chiang, Siang, and the Dihang as it fiercely descends the final 200 kilometres to the plains of India, slicing through the fabled ‘Big Bend’ gorge. On making it past the Tibetan border, the Brahmaputra takes on its Indian name.
A journey to this river gives the traveller a peek into life in perhaps, what is considered the remotest region in India. To quote Akshay Kumar, CEO, Mercury Himalayan Explorations Limited, problems faced include “limited air and road access, lack of professional services available locally, low quality accommodation and no information flow”.
This perception has changed. According to Vaibhav Kala, owner of Aquaterra Adventures, “Areas that were closed in 2002 are now accessible to tourists.” In his opinion, the state authorities have been extremely supportive, realising the true potential of opening up adventure destinations in the state.
Kumar, whose company opened Arunachal Pradesh to the foreign tourist by undertaking the first descent of the Brahmaputra in 1990, echoes this sentiment. “At the time there was a steep royalty of USD 10,000 on each trip, but now it is much less.”
While every other river is called ‘Nadi’, the Brahmaputra is the only ‘male’ river referred to as ‘Nada’ to signify its power and might. To Kala, the Ningguing and Marmong gorges are the most exciting part of the trip being remote, steep, with big white water and Grade 3 & 4 rapids.
Kumar has a strong lineage of mountaineering and adventure, having been initiated at the age of 14. In 1990, he was approached by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) to train and lead their expedition on the Brahmaputra. An elite team made their way down from Bona (near Geling on the Indo-Tibetan border) all the way till Dhubri on the Indo-Bangladesh border in just over a month.
“To date we have to our credit the highest and the longest river descent on the Brahmaputra” – Akshay Kumar
The prime time for Brahmaputra white-water rafting is during November and December when one gets to take on gigantic waves, eddies and eddy lines capable of flipping rafts. Encountering and overcoming the ‘Roaring Rikor’, ‘Zebra Rock’ and the ‘Tooth Fairy’ are incredibly exhilarating. One gets to raft down ‘Morning Madness’ and soak in nature’s splendour, experience the ethnic settlements, isolated hillsides and the dense rainforests.
1. Aquaterra Adventures (India) Pvt Ltd
Ph: 91-11-29212641, 29212760, 41636101
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mercury Himalayan Explorations Ltd
Ph: +91 11 4356 5425, +91 11 4352 3767, +91 11 2334 0033