I love it when an impromptu event comes good and more so when I am into it at the ‘last-est’ moment 🙂 Such an adventurous event happened last week when I undertook a River rafting outing at Kali River at Ganesh Gudi, amidst Dandeli reserve forest.
Three of my friends Rajesh, Girish and Mukesh had gone to Dharwad to attend one of their colleague’s marriages while I was in Karwar at the same time with my family. My friends had heard about River Rafting through their acquaintances and since they had travelled so far till Dharwad, decided to stretch it a bit.
I was told of this plan on Friday and they reached that place by Saturday evening. Somehow I couldn’t join them on Saturday thanks to Indian Railways. I had taken a short tour to Goa but while coming back to Karwar the scheduled train was late by an hour and this resulted in me missing the last bus to Dandeli from Karwar.
I started my journey on Sunday early morning by catching the first bus at 6 AM. The last time I had boarded a bus at such a time must have been in school when I had to attend weekly NCC parades (I was in naval wing at National High School).
Having experienced unusual cold climate at Bangalore I never bothered to carry any warm wearing, but was in for ‘chilling’ treatment while the bus went through the forests. I got off at a place called Joida and took a local 4×4 ride to Dandeli. This is the second time in last 8 months I had been in a jeep that was hardly driveable…this one didn’t have a proper gear handle! Check out the picture on what I mean.
I finally caught up with my friends at their hotel (state lodge, opposite to Dandeli Bus station) and we took another jeep towards Ganesh Gudi Forests. Enroute we had a quick breakfast at a local Udupi Hotel (Buns baaji, Idlies, Tea and a quick fag, I hardly smoke).
At the forest each one of us had to make an entry in their register with our mobile numbers and this is again repeated at the exit point. There were about 30-40 of people who had come for the rafting experience. Everyone had to sign a consent form. We were then briefed about the event, safety instructions, life jacket and helmets were mounted and positions on the inflatable raft/boat were assigned. Our Raft was ready: Bigger, inflated and waiting for us 🙂
Being a bit over weight helped me to the front of the raft, which I was a bit hesitant to occupy initially. In the hindsight, this was a good thing to have happened as you can enjoy all the fun and adventure to the maximum right from the front and for once I was proud of my weight.
In addition to four of us friends, and a guide our raft had two couples who had come all the way from Pune to experience the adventure. We had barely paddled some fifty metres, our guide told us to stop midway and jump into the water! It was scary initially, but the place where we dropped was calm and the drop is the live demo of how to survive after a fall into water. Its a free float lying on our backs and looking skywards with the life jackets keeping us afloat. I loved every bit of this. And all those who were scared of water also shed their inhibitions, albeit with some amount of coaxing and little force . You need not know swimming to experience river rafting.
The First rapid (point where we go down the fall) was fast approaching and I had my apphrensions and adrenaline at the peak and all the thoughts of boat capsizing and we falling into water were vaporized in an instant as we had passed it without any trouble, but getting wet by the water. I thoroughly loved every drop of water splash hitting my face and it is a phenomenon that you must experience and am pretty sure that you will crave for more!
There were total of 7 rapids and the first one is said to be a little bit tricky and steeper one compared to others… The overall rafting distance is about 9 kms but it does seem shorter than that, not sure if it’s the water current that makes this distance seem smaller or the sheer excitement. If I recall correctly, the rafting difficulty level is around grade-3 / grade-4, highest being 6.
All photos are courtesy of Mukesh and shot through his Nokia E72. We did not take camera as we were told by operator there were high chances of them falling in water and rightly so. Somehow Mukesh decided to take the risk, while covering it in a plastic cover. The other 6 rapids were not steep and rough as the first one but thoroughly enjoyable nevertheless.
Just before we crossed our 7th rapid, we asked our guide to allow us to experience the free float again, which he obliged. It’s a great feeling floating on the water, carefree, enjoying the sunshine, sky, birds and their chirps, trees, cold water…this time though Rajesh drifted a bit wide from the rafts the currents made him drift further…folks from another raft which was close by also threw the ropes, which he missed by a whisker (Rajesh was later telling us what it means of the phrase “So near, yet so far” )…but finally we managed to get hold of him.
As we passed the seventh rapid downstream I thought it was all over but we were actually told back to move upstream towards the seventh rapid. We all thought that we would be doing some upstream rowing which requires considerable stamina and strength. But what Sunil made was do will be remembered for a long long time. I think he called it Nose Dunks, but am not sure. Two of us were made to align inside the raft while others paddled up and just as we enter the point of climb, we are drifted upwards and then the water gushes in splashing all over, we tried to do it repeat it couple of times but could not and request our guide to allows us to do it one last time and, boy oh boy! that one last attempt was just awesome!
We then moved towards the exit point and half heartedly got out of our rafts and the jeep which had dropped us at the boarding point was now here waiting to pick us up. We were told that the jeep has to travel some 20 odd km from the drop point to be at the exit point through the forest. It is at the start point where couple of resorts are situated…We could even spot a tree top cottage with part of its support in the river.
Dandeli is truly an awesome place to enjoy some kickass fun, adventure and closeness to nature. You might want to check this site for more information: www.dandeli.com and www.southernriveradventures.com
Here are some tips to enjoy River rafting:
- Follow the safety guidelines prescribed by your Guide and listen to him always.
- Get an extra pair of clothing and foot wear.
- Floaters are ok but shoes are preferred.
- No jeweleries, Cameras, mobiles, wallets…basically any item that you do not want wet and has chances of falling.
- Do not Booze and go for the rafting, you will miss the fun and it also requires considerable physical effort and judgment.
- Work as a team.
Get Wet, Set and Go!
You might want to read: Lakshadweep: Cool, Calm and Good Times