River Rafting Tips for Beginners – Ready for adventure?

River rafting tips – Are they really important?

River Rafting as an adventure sport can encourage anyone to feel the thunderous rapids. The best place for it in India can only be Rishikesh. The river rafting in Rishikesh can be mesmerizing but if this will be your first time then you need to be equipped with some quick and useful river rafting tips. But before we jump to the tips, let us get our basics right.

What is river rafting?

River rafting is a high-adrenaline sport of crossing a river in an inflatable raft. Rafting is a challenging sport but is tremendously fun at the same time. The white-water rafting may bring a fear of its own but under professional guidance and correct training it can not cause any harm to the individual. Taking the appropriate equipment in your voyage will make your experience even safer and hence making it enjoyable. Undoubtedly, river rafting is one the popular adventure sport in India. The credits for the same must go to its ease in understanding and doing with no prior knowledge as a requirement. A small instruction guide from the expert will be enough for you to enjoy riding the waves. You just need to be careful the grades in your route and play safe, if you are a novice.

What are the grades in River Rafting?

The difficulty level has been the determinant in deciding the grades of water rafting. It ranges from 1 that means the easiest to 5 which is the most difficult,

Grade 1: Smooth water with little current requiring very basic skills in rafting.
Grade 2: Small rapids with bubbling current, rough water and maybe few rocks requiring a little amount of skill in padding correctly.
Grade 3: Small waves with a small drop that’s not dangerous. It is exciting and technical and therefore calls for a professional guide who has the idea of how to pad in an efficient manner.
Grade 4: Big rapids with medium waves, maybe a few rocks and a considerable drop, it goes beyond the scope of first-timers as it requires certain amount of white-water rafting experience.
Grade 5: Large waves with large volume and possibility of huge rocks, a large drop and hazards which requires advanced white-water rafting experience.

If you have the proper equipment with you then you will have certain level of assurance with you while in the waters.

What is the equipment required in white-water rafting?

Rafts are inflatable boats made out of either multi-layered synthetic rubber (Hypalon) or vinyl fabric (PVC). They measure anywhere between 3.5m (11ft) and 6m (20ft) in length, and 1.8m (6ft) and 2.5m (8ft) in width, and are exceedingly durable. Rafting destinations in India has been blessed by nature as it has been generous to India as far as rivers are concerned. The four most popular commercial rafting rivers are the Ganges, Beas, Indus and Teesta. Uttaranchal in the north is home to many world-class white-water rivers, with easy access from Delhi. Rishikesh having Ganges makes river rafting in Rishikesh a must in everyone’s to-do list.

With all the basic technical requirements known to us we can move forward to the real segment, the river rafting tips. Please do follow the below mentioned tips to have a fun experience.

What all things to keep in mind before River Rafting?

Everyone is sure to have some or the other question in mind before hitting the water and it is all justified. Below are certain points mentioned to look for while thinking of enjoying your experience.

1) Enquire about the expertise and experience of the company in the rafting operations as it will help you gather much required basic information if the company is credible enough.

2) Talk to the guides yourself to figure out whether they are well-trained and informed or not. If their communication skills are up to the mark and how much safety conscious, they are.

3) Look for a Life Jacket. Most of the accidents in water happens due to the fact that they were not wearing a life jacket or wearing it improperly. Check for the buoyancy and type of the life jacket (ideally 9-10kg buoyancy and U.S. Coast Guard Type V) with straps, etc

4) Look for Helmets are the most important security tool which everyone should be wearing throughout the trip, properly strapped.

5) Keep an eye on all the equipment to see any major worn and torn that might be dangerous. Also, it brings confidence in you during the trip.

6) Have a first-aid kit ready with you and basic training of CPR given to all the members.

7) Have a check if the company provides basic equipment to every raft for any emergency situations like; recue throw bags, glue, accelerator, sandpaper, water-proof repair tape.

8) As per rules of the Indian Association of Professional Rafting Outfitters, if you are on a section of the river which is grade III (difficult with big waves requiring manoeuvring the raft through boulders/obstacles, slightly remote and/or away from the road), do ensure that the company you are going with uses a minimum of two craft, i.e. two rafts or a raft and a safety kayak. The two-craft rule can be relaxed for easy float trip sections (Grade-I to Grade-II) close to a road.

9) Do insist on a safety briefing before you start the rafting trip. The guide/trip leader must give a thorough safety briefing covering all pertinent details for that particular trip. This is among the most common yet important river rafting tips.

10) Ensure that non-swimmers are not allowed to body-surf.

11) Ensure that trips are timed to finish at least an hour before dark.

What all things to keep in mind during River Rafting?

1. Always wear your life jacket while on the river. The life jacket should fit snugly.

2. Helmets are more to protect you from the paddles of your enthusiastic rafting companions, and the oars/frame on a raft (in case of a flip on an oar rig), and very rarely as protection against the rocks on a river.

3. Do not tie/wrap any rope around your wrists, arms, legs or neck! This can be dangerous in case of a flip, or if you fall out.

4. Do not place your feet in the safety line outside the raft while paddling. You are likely to get hurt in case you hit a boulder.

5. In case the raft is about to hit a boulder, do not try and stop the two-ton momentum of the raft with your lightweight paddle, foot or hands – you are likely to get hurt. Let the raft bounce off the rocks.

6. Try not to distract your guide with your activities.

7. If you do fall off a raft and are forced to body-surf, do remember the following river rafting tips –
Do not panic – relax.

a) As soon as you fall off the raft, your life jacket will immediately bring you to the surface.
b) There is a ninety per cent possibility that you will surface right next to the raft.
c) Grab hold of the raft. Remember the raft is your biggest life jacket on the river.
d) If you are close to the raft (a metre or two away) and a swimmer, swim to the raft
e) If you are away from the raft, adopt the white-water position (also referred to as the white-water missionary position!): lie on your back with your feet pointed downstream.
f) Do not try and stand up in a rapid since this can lead to a foot entrapment in a rock or other obstacle underwater.
g) Hold on to your paddle. You will be fairly useless without your paddle in the raft and your team is likely to throw you back into the river if you come back in without your paddle! You can use your paddle to extend your reach and get help. Always give the grip end of the paddle to someone trying to help you, or someone you are trying to help.
h) Listen to your guide, even though it may be contrary to your instinct. If your guide points in any direction, swim in that direction. Your guides always point towards safety.
i) Watch out for the rescue throw bag your guide is likely to throw at you. Grab hold of the rope sticking out of the bag and not the bag itself. Do not wrap the rope around your wrist or neck. Put it over your shoulder with your face pointing away from the direction you are being pulled since this creates an air pocket (this will be explained to you before you go rafting during the safety briefing), and get pulled back into the raft.
j) If any of your fellow rafters have fallen off the raft, pull them back into the raft from the top of their life jackets (shoulder section) only. Smile. The most important thing to do on a river – enjoy yourself!

What to carry for River Rafting ?

1) Torch (optional)
2) Common Medicine (Crocin, Disprine etc.)
3) Prescribed Medicine (BP, Diabetes and Asthma)
4) Mobile + Charger
5) Toiletries.
6) Warm Clothes (Nov to Feb)
7) Shoes for trekking.
8) T- Shirt, Bermuda & Floaters for rafting.

Above mentioned river rafting tips will give you one of the best experiences and the best can be experienced of river rafting in Rishikesh over the ferocious Ganges and not to forget, the beautiful scenic view in your way.