Zanskar river rafting is the highest in the world and 2nd toughest in India. A must-do adventure activity if you are in Leh. Zanskar river is known for the famous ‘Chadar Trek’ (frozen river) during winter when the temperature plunges to -30-degree Celsius. And during summer the same river is famous for the river rafting.
Zanskar river rafting has around twelve Rapids and few whirlpools in the 24-kilometer long stretch. There is a shorter easier one with just 3 or 4 rapids and is of 8-12 kilometers. The longer one is of great fun and adventure. Zanskar river rafting is a high altitude rafting and is the highest in the world at an altitude of above 16,000 feet. Make sure you are acclimatized to this altitude. You can do this by staying for 2 days in Leh without doing anything. The Zanskar river rafting is the second toughest in India with a grade 4 category, after Rishikesh.
At the campsite which is next to Nation Highway One, get ready with the swim suit/ cold water jacket that they provide, along with the life-jacket and helmet. The organizers will take you to the starting point which is about 24 kilometers. The drive to this place itself is full of adventure with sharp hairpin curves, landslides, no tar road at few places, no road railing – one wrong move by the driver, you will be all the way down in the Zanskar river. The best thing is you can stand in the backside of the jeep. You can check this in the video below.
Also read: Hiking in Kashmir to Tarsar
The Zanskar river rafting
The river rafting starts with the set of instructions and a bit of warm up on how to paddle etc. The Rapids starts almost immediately. Some of the most dangerous once are in the beginning and in the middle. There is a stop in between after about 30 minutes from start. There are few more rapids after the break, followed by whirlpool near the bridge. Once we cross the bridge for the last few kilometers it is all flat. The overall journey took almost 1 hour. The water is ice cold and you can even dive at the end near the campsite.
The location is close to Leh City in the Leh – Kargil highway. The nearest airport is Leh. The exact location of the organizers is the Sangam where the Zanskar and Indus river join into one and continues as river Indus. Zanskar is a north flowing tributary of river Indus. The package is around 1000-1500 rupees, which includes 24 kilometers drive to the starting point in a jeep or mini bus, the swim suit that protects you from cold water, safety jacket, guide and instruction charges, permission, boat, and lunch. The action camera charges are extra and will cost another 1000 rupees. I recommend carrying your own action camera with the head mount.
Instructions will be given in the beginning, guide in the boat while rafting, another guide who will kayak next to us during the entire journey, safety jacket, cold water suit, helmet and also a jeep which will be following us on the road that goes parallel to the Zanskar river. The guides are certified and trained at Rishikesh, which is another famous place for river rafting in India.
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