Thursday, July 16, 2009

Colorado River Rafting & India's river rafting

Zanskar River, India... part III completing part I and II

The 7 days river journey on the Zanskar takes you through the Zanskar gorge referred to as the "Grand Canyon" of Asia, through Grade III and Grade IV rapids, much like Colorado River Rafting grade III and IV, which add a dimension of excitement and adventure. A fresh water spring that can be mistaken for a water fall is the lunch point on one of the days. Hikes to monasteries and villages which are otherwise inaccessible all add to the charm of this trip.

The only other way to cross the Zanskar river is in winter when it is frozen and the locals trek across it to cut down their travel time to Leh.

There is always a good chance to spot wild life as we travel along since the area is home to the ibex, mountain goat and snow leopard. The trip ends at Alchi, 60 km, downstream of Leh where our jeeps come to collect us and take us to the comfortable Lha Rimo Hotel in Leh. Two nights in Leh at the end of the trip give you time for last minute shopping in the bazaar and savour a few extra moments in this magical place.
Sample Itinerary

* Day 01 : Fly Delhi / Leh (11,000 ft). Check in at a comfortable hotel in Leh. Relax, don’t exert yourself, your body needs to acclimatise to the altitude.
* Day 02 : Light activity and short walks around Leh. The quaint Leh market is a great place to start exploring as are the numerous bakeries selling mouth - watering gourmet delights. For the more energetic a visit to a few monasteries such as Spituk, Thikse and Hemis will be arranged. Overnight at the hotel.
* Day 03 : We drive 180 km from Leh to Mulbek/Kargil, through a spectacular 'lunar' landscape. Crossing the high mountain pass, Fotu La (14,000 ft), from the Indus valley into the Suru Valley. We visit the Lamayuru monastery en route, known to be one of the oldest monasteries amongst the 'Red Hat' sect. Overnight hotel / PWD Rest House.
* Day 04 : The most spectacular drive filled with natural wonders. We drive to Ringdum Gompa (12,000 ft). Few mountain drives get you this close to the Great Himalaya. The awesome mass of the Nun Kun massif over 7000m high with its hanging glacier across the road from us, dominating today's journey. Overnight in the PWD rest house at Ringdum.
* Day 05 : We drive for approx. 06 hrs to Remala which is the put-in point for the rafting trip. The drive is across the Pensi La at 14,500 ft, at the top of which we stop for lunch surrounded by an awe inspiring arena of the Zanskar peaks at the bottom of which is the Drung Durung glacier that feeds the Zanskar river, 40 km below, on which we begin our rafting trip tomorrow. Overnight tented camp.
* Day 06 : Rafting expedition commences from Remala to Karsha Gompa, near Padum. We cover approx 30 km in 5 hours, which includes a break for lunch and hot beverages. We are surrounded by 6000 m Himalayan and Zanskar peaks. Rapids encountered today are all Class II, a good introduction for first time rafters as well as to the river in general. After settling into camp by 3 PM, take a short walk to Kharsha Gompa for the evening incantations by the monks.
* Day 07 : After breakfast trip starts in the late morning from Kharsha up til Pidmu. This stretch is approximately 30 km with Class II & III rapids. After settling into the camp by mid afternoon, we visit the nearby villages of Pidmu and Hanomil.
* Day 08 : Today we raft approx. 20 km to Nyerak, through Class III rapids and the canyon closes in on us through this gorge section and the views are akin to the Grand Canyon. We make a camp in a steep gorge below Nyerak village.
* Day 09 : Today's rafting stretch is approx. 35 km from Nyerak to Lamaguru. This is the heart of Zanskar. Awe inspiring rock formations with indescribable colours. A good white water day with continuous Class III rapids, with a few Class IV's where the river narrows down to 15 ft in width. We stop for lunch at a huge waterfall at the confluence of Markha river with Zanskar.
* Day 10 : Hiking day today. We hike up the Markha valley to Skiu village to partake of the local culture and colour. Picnic lunch en route. Overnight in Lamaguru camp.
* Day 11 : Rafting from Lamaguru to Nimu today. 40 km on the water through class III / IV white water. The Zanskar joins the Indus river near Nimu. We camp short of the confluence of the two rivers. Overnight.
* Day 12 : Raft approx. 25 km from Nimu to finish the trip at Alchi through class III / IV rapids. After taking out at Alchi, we walk up to the centuries old monastery to view the beautiful frescos and wood carvings. Drive back 60 km to Leh and check in to hotel in Leh.
* Day 13 : In Leh - Rest and relaxation (and those much needed baths !) and time to catch up with any last minute shopping.
* Day 14 : Fly Leh / Delhi.

Go on a Colorado River Rafting expedition or travel to an exotic place to have a new experience if you have the time and funds.

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