Whitewater rafting in Karnataka: Enjoy thrilling to gentle rapids in Kodagu, Udupi | Azad Times

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One can experience the thrill of the rapids and sprays of pristine whitewater rafting at different destinations in Karnataka. The rapids range from thrilling rough-and-tumble drops to gentle, enthralling, long water stretches.

With several lakes, expansive water bodies, and innumerable rivers dotting the landscape of Karnataka, there are exciting opportunities for water sports enthusiasts. To experience the thrills of whitewater rafting, you don’t have to venture as far as the Himalayas. River Cauvery, the lifeline of Karnataka, offers unlimited possibilities for water sports. You can experience the thrill of the rapids, thundering waters, and sprays of pristine whitewater rafting in Karnataka, at different destinations. However, rafting is possible in these stretches only if there is sufficient water.

Rafting is available on some stretches of River Kali. In the earlier days, during the monsoon, one could raft down the roaring rapids of the Sitanadi, a swift, Western Ghats river, and also the two stretches of River Cauvery. While rafting down the Sitanadi, you can spot bird life endemic to the Western Ghats including rare species like the Great Indian horned owl. If you are lucky, you’ll be treated to freshwater otters frolicking in the waters.

The swift and powerful Cauvery starts at Hebri near Udupi. Then it passes through thick evergreen forests that form part of the Western Ghats in Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary and Kudremukha National Park. Even though rafting facilities are not available in this stretch at present, they may resume during the monsoon. 

Come monsoon and you can experience the rapids on River Cauvery, along the stretch adjacent to the Dubare Elephant Camp in Kodagu, depending on the water level. There are customised packages with varying costs based on the duration of the run. Rare close-up glimpses of riverbank vegetation, woodland and aquatic birdlife, and fauna, are bonuses that come with these tours. Some of the stretches are dramatic and you can soak in the pristine environs of the forests.

Rafting down River Kali 

I remember vividly my first rafting experience in Dandeli several years back. We were hauled into a jeep and taken to Ganeshgudi, the starting point. Currently, 11.5 km rafting starts on the gurgling waters of the dam-bound Kali in Ganeshgudi and ends at Molangi Eco Park. To begin with, you are taken up the river close along with the raft that can hold up to seven rafters and a guide. After a brief safety drill and the instructions on paddling techniques, we hit the river. Accompanied by a river guide, we battled the swift currents in a rubber dinghy, oars in our hands, spray on our faces, and fear and trepidation in our hearts. We swirled, bumped, leapt, and swayed on a raft in the rapids. The rapids range from thrilling rough-and-tumble drops to gentle, enthralling, long water stretches. The higher the number, the more difficult the rapid.  

White water rafting in Kali River 

Along the Kali, we passed by rock formations, wild orchids, and the occasional crocodile. We sighted hordes of the great hornbill and the Malabar pied hornbill roosting in the branches of the trees and bamboo clusters along the banks of the river.

As we lunged forward, we witnessed the turbulent moods of the ubiquitous Kali and all the thrill and exhilaration of the roaring rapids. Some rapids were tame while the grade three ones were a test of our endurance and skill. You can capture the varied moods of River Kali at every turn. You can experience a rush of adrenaline as your raft crosses the grade two and three rapids throughout the entire stretch of the gushing river. 

Located amidst dense jungles, the Molangi Eco Park where the rafting ends provides a wide panorama of stunning rock formations, cliffs, a meandering river, and a set of nature trails. Surrounded by picturesque landscape, comprising thick evergreen forests, this Park is a must-visit for nature and adventure enthusiasts and also a popular picnic spot.

Rafting Tips: Safety is the most important part of any river trip. Choose a professionally experienced rafting company. Firmly secured life jackets, crash helmets, rescue floats with unreeling nylon lines, first-aid kit, detailed instructions to the rafters, and an attendant kayak or raft for emergency assistance are mandatory. Non-swimmers need not hesitate as basic instructions as to how to manoeuvre in the water are taught. Rafters are also encouraged to jump into the river before rafting to get a feel of the water.

The adventure sport is open to those 13 years and above and is clearly not for the faint-hearted. A minimum of four people are required. Wear shorts and water-proof shoes for comfort. Do not carry anything on your person. Leave behind your wallets, cell phones, keys, and cameras. Carry dry bags or boxes to secure cameras you may bring with you. Take along your sunscreen and sunglasses with a strap to secure them. Rafting activity will be suspended in Dandeli during the rainy season. 

After all the thrill and exhilaration of the roaring rapids, we left with a fervent prayer for the revival of the rafting activities in other destinations in Karnataka.

Thrills of white water rafting in Kali River / Image Courtesy: Jungle Lodges & Resorts 

How to reach Dandeli:

By road: 460 km from Bengaluru

Nearest airport: Hubbahalli (65km)

Nearest railway station: Londa (65km)

Best season for rafting in Dandeli: November to June

Where to stay: Kali Adventure Camp and Old Magazine House

For accommodation and rafting, contact:

>JLR @94495 99765 

Email: [email protected]

>Kamat Ecotours & Jungle Holidays -94481 33270/98458581148

Email: [email protected]

Susheela Nair is an independent food, travel and lifestyle writer and photographer contributing articles, content and images to several national publications besides organising seminars and photo exhibitions. Her writings span a wide spectrum which also includes travel portals and guide books, brochures and coffee table books.

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