Ladakh has three major rivers, where you can undertake this adventurous Sport. Indus in Leh region, Shayok in Nubra and Zanskar river in Zanskar. A range of rafting options are available on these rivers.
The Indus River, locally known as the Singhe Khababs (out of Lion’s mouth), flows across the north west to the south east, passing through Ladakh and flows into Pakistan where it joined Shayok and Suru to become major historical Indus River.
The Indus, originates near the Kailash Mountain and the Mansarovar Lake in Western Tibet. Water levels remain high during the month June to late August, which is the best season for fascinating rafting expeditions. The travel agent offers white water River rafting on Indus for one to five days. The rafting on Indus provides spectacular view of the landscapes Ladakh and Zanskar ranges which housed Buddhist monasteries on high cliff. The white water Indus has rapids generally of I and II grades and at some places, has grade III to even V rapids.
Popular Rafting Points.
The popular rafting points are from Phey to Nimo, Upshi to Kharu , Upshi to Nimo. The other points run from Phey to Saspol or Phey to the Indus – Zanskar confluence at Nimo and from Nimo to the historical monastic enclave of Alchi, about 75 Kms west of Leh.
Experienced rafters may also want to try the more challenging route between Alchi and Khaltsey, which takes in the kilometre long series of rapids at Nurla. Easier runs include the run between Hemis (40km south of Leh) situated along a road crossing the Indus and Choglamsar, which is a three-hour trip that goes through quiet, calm waters, and passes through the riverside villages of Stakna, Shey and Thiksey (25km south-east of Leh), before ending at Choglamsar, just short of Leh city.
There are two main sets of routes along the rivers, graded I to III (for amateurs) and IV to VI, for veterans. The Zanskar and the Indus, both in Ladakh, are graded I – III, while the more southern stretches of the Beas, Chenab, Sutlej and Teesta are graded IV – VI.
Grade I: Small, easy waves; mainly flat water
Grade II: Mainly clear passages; some areas of difficulty
Grade III: Difficult passages; narrow in places and with high waves
Grade IV: Very difficult, narrow and requiring precise manoeuvring
Grade V: Extremely difficult. Very fast-flowing waters which can be manoeuvred only by experts
Grade VI: For all practical purposes, unmanageable- even suicidal
- Good sunscreen
- Dark glasses,
- T-shirts (or other light, quick-dry clothing) and
- Suitable shoes-sneakers or heavy duty rubber sandals may be a good idea.
- Windproof jacket,
- Light sweater,
- And don’t forget the first aid box.
River rafting in some areas may require special permits from the government. Areas close to India’s international borders, such as Nubra, Sikkim, Lahaul and Spiti may be off-limits to foreigners without a valid permit. Make sure you’ve got all the necessary permits which are needed. Permits can usually be obtained fairly easily from District Commissioners. Travel agents or the River will arrange these permits
River rafting routes
A. Phey – Nimo route: This route consist mostly of Grade II or III easy rapids is that it passes through astoundingly beautiful mountains, many of them with tiny hamlets and imposing old monasteries nestling among the valleys. Starting from Phey Village, about 12 Kms from Leh and ends Indus-Zanskar confluence at Nimo, about 36 kms from Leh.
B. Upshi – Kharu route: This route is somewhat long as compare to the Phey-Nimo, but not too difficult. The stretch between Upshi and Kharu consists of I and II rapids, although there are some grade III rapids too. The starting point is at Upshi, about 90 Kms South east of Leh, along the road which leads south to Manali. From Upshi, the river makes its way westwards to Kharu, along the road to Leh.
C. Phey – Saspol: This rafting trip starts from Phey, about 8 kms south of Leh and its end at Saspol, on Leh-Srinagar Highway, near Alchi. This route is short and relaxed enough to enjoy the breathtaking view of landscapes and beauty of tiny hamlets on the both side of Indus.
D. Kharu – Spituk: it starts from Kharo, about 45 Kms South-East of Leh and ends at Spituk, just short of Leh. This route is specially recommended for the beginners and amateurs.
E. Saspol – Khaltsey: If you are experienced rafters, you may try the more challenging route between Saspol and Khaltsey, which has kilometre long series of rapids at Nurla. The rafting will finish at Khaltsey 90 Kilometres from Leh.