Thursday, 14 March 2013

A Rafting Rush

With my first experience with white water rafting leaving me wanting more of the sport and weekend adrenalin rush that comes with it, I headed down to Kundalika River yet another time this weekend. My adventure spirit winning over my ‘forgotton when needed’ swimming skills and a fear of encountering swimming earthworms, I along with the jing bang of hubby and younger brother drove down to Kolad. My first trip to Kolad for rafting was in July 2012, with the rains making things even more exciting and the route brimming with greenery. The month of March 2013 however left my little brother wondering whether we had duped him into believing there was a dangerously dancing river waiting to be rafted along and were perhaps going to leave him in the stretches of barren land this time. Little did he know he was in for a surprise!

A convenient max 3.5 hrs drive from Mumbai, Kolad boasts of the river Kundalika on which you can experience the rush of white water rafting with rapids which will give you a taste of the hydro fuel of mother nature. Rafting in River Kundalika is “dam controlled” and done in the rapids which are generated by the water released from the dam in the morning. A pleasant drive from the city of Mumbai and you can go straight to the riverfront and join the rafting groups which should be pre booked for an approximate river stretch of 12kms. The river boasts of Grade 2 to Grade 3 rapids. To explain,

Grade 1: Very small rough areas, might require slight maneuvering. (Skill level: very basic)
Grade 2: Some rough water, maybe some rocks, might require some maneuvering. (Skill level: basic paddling skill)
Grade 3: Whitewater, small waves, maybe a small drop, but no considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering. (Skill level: experienced paddling skills)
Grade 4: Whitewater, medium waves, maybe rocks, maybe a considerable drop, sharp maneuvers may be needed. (Skill level: whitewater experience)
Grade 5: Whitewater, large waves, large volume, possibility of large rocks and hazards, possibility of a large drop, requires precise maneuvering. (Skill level: advanced whitewater experience)
Grade 6: Class 6 rapids are considered to be so dangerous that they are effectively unnavigable on a reliably safe basis.

 The sheer thrill that makes you shudder with anticipation on hearing the warning gong that sounds off twice before the water is released and the pure amazement with which the released water flows down the dam walls and the bank with a ferocity of an unleashed mad dog left us, well, speechless. The adventure was on !

The 2 hrs of adventure start with the instructors giving basic rafting training and practicing the rythmn of paddling to be followed at his command, with ideally 8 people – 4 on each side and the instructor at the helm on each air filled boat, the raft. The basic instructions for paddle alignment include “All Back”, “All Forward”, Right/ Left Back”, “Left/ Right Forward” and much to our raft instructor’s chagrin,  all 8 adults over 20 years of age forgot their lefts, rights and direction senses! After a quick 10 mins schooling on direction and teamwork sense, it was time to get our feet wet, pick up the raft and push off into the river. Now the first feeling that hits you the moment the raft is in the water is one of tranquility with the beauty of the river and the foliage around it combined with the thrill of having your feet tucked under the bloated floor of the raft, ready to take on the approaching rapids. 
Nothing shall compare to the experience of handling the first rapid…. Even if you have done rafting earlier too. With everyone’s hands tight on the paddle, swaying away to the instructor’s command, mouths shamelessly open in awe of the power of the water pulling the raft into mini tornado like formations from which you emerge with a lot of muscle power involved and the look of complete amazement at the adrenaline rush on everyone’s faces- a whole new journey begins.

The next few rapids were even stronger, with our raft running into the shrubs once and on the verge of pushing us into the water (life jackets and helmets are compulsory to wear and provided by the rafting club you go with). As the River Kundalika settled down to a calmer verve after the rapids, we were even given the opportunity to jump off the rafts and swim in the River for almost half an hour- a calming experience with the skies above and slight drizzle since our trip was during the  monsoons (the best time for rafting). The more crazy one’s were made to stand on the edge of the rafts balancing our weights on the paddles and ofcourse we tried to bump people off the other rafts once the instructors gave the water’s calm enough to behave like a bunch of teenagers signal.

When it was finally time to lightly paddle towards the end of the river and conclude the adventure, we had a pleasant surprise. The river towards the end was banked by sprawling green stretches which shone with the green brilliance of reflecting dew drops and simple beauty. With tired muscles and pumped hearts, we carried our rafts up the edge of the river onto higher ground, with the group shorties conveniently walking in the shade of the raft held high above like a trophy by the rest.

The trip would have been incomplete without the night trek back at our camp, the calm kayaking in the river, the flying fox activity, which I greedily did a number of times extra,  the campfire with comforting old monk for some and the jing bang for company. Whether I recall my first trip to Kolad camping at the edge of the river with 5 of us packed into one room, uncomplaining, happy to be together and fighting for the sheets or this latest one with 3 of us exploring nooks and corners of our tent, rafting at Kolad gave us an experience that is worth the weekend & worth recommending!! 

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