Originating in the Tibetan plateau in the sorrounding areas of Lake Mansarovar in Western part of Tibet Autonomous Region, the Indus river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and then enters Northern Areas (Gilgit-Baltistan) of Pakistan. The river, locally known as the Singhe Khababs (out of Lion’s mouth), while flowing into Pakistan joins Shayok and Suru to become major historical Indus River.
Water levels remain high during the month June to late August, which is the best season for fascinating rafting expeditions. White Water Rafting on Indus provides spectacular view of the landscapes of Ladakh and Zanskar ranges which housed Buddhist monasteries on high cliff. Rafting on Indus can be undertaken for one to five days.
The white water Indus has rapids generally of I and II grades and at some places, has grade III to even V rapids. The popular rafting points are from Phey to Nimo and also from Upshi to Kharu or from Upshi to Nimo. The other points run from Phey to Saspol or Phey to the Indus – Zanskar confluence at Nimo and from Nimo to the historical monastic enclave of Alchi, about 75 Kms west of Leh. Experienced rafters may also want to try the more challenging route between Alchi and Khaltsey, which takes in the kilometre long series of rapids at Nurla. Easier runs include the run between Hemis (40km south of Leh) situated along a road crossing the Indus and Choglamsar, which is a three-hour trip that goes through quiet, calm waters, and passes through the riverside villages of Stakna, Shey and Thiksey (25km south-east of Leh), before ending at Choglamsar, just short of Leh city.
Phey – Saspol: This rafting trip starts from Phey, about 8 kms south of Leh and its end at Saspol, on Leh-Srinagar Highway, near Alchi. This route is short and relaxed enough to enjoy the breathtaking view of landscapes and beauty of tiny hamlets on the both side of Indus river.
Kharu – Spituk: This rafting stretch starts from Kharo which is about 45 Kms South-East of Leh and ends at Spituk, just short of Leh. Beginners and amateurs are advised to undertake this stretch.
Phey – Nimo route : This route consist mostly of Grade II or III easy rapids is that it passes through astoundingly beautiful mountains, many of them with tiny hamlets and imposing old monasteries nestling among the valleys. Starting from Phey Village, about 12 Kms from Leh and ends Indus-Zanskar confluence at Nimo, about 36 kms from Leh. Upshi – Kharu route: This route is somewhat long as compare to the Phey-Nimo, but not too difficult. The stretch between Upshi and Kharu consists of I and II rapids, although there are some grade III rapids too. The starting point is at Upshi, about 90 Kms South east of Leh, along the road which leads south to Manali. From Upshi, the river makes its way westwards to Kharu, along the road to Leh.
Saspol – Khaltsey: This stretch from Saspol to Khaltsey is for experienced rafters, this challenging route which has kilometre long series of rapids at Nurla and the stretch ends at Khaltsey which is 90 Kilometres from Leh.
Rafting Operators in Leh:
There are several Travel Agents in and around Leh Market offering white water rafting on the Indus River and Zanskar River. The charge for Phey to Nimo rafting is Rs. 800-900 per person including transport, raft and Lunch. Other Rafting expeditions are organized on demand and the cost depends on number of person and rafting points. The more the number of Rafters, the rates will get reduced. A team of 8 members is the ideal one.
Important Road Distances in the region
Srinagar-Leh 434 Km
Manali-Leh 473 Km
Srinagar-Kargil 204 Km
Delhi-Leh 1047 Kms
Leh-Kargil 234 Km
Kargil-Padum (Zanskar) 240 Km
Leh-Deskit (Nubra Valley) 118 Kms.
Indian Airlines operates regular flights to Leh from Delhi, Four flights in a week from Jammu and once in a week from Chandigarh and twice from Srinagar. Jet Airways www.jetairways.com also operates daily flights between Leh-Delhi.
The cheapest way to travel within the region is by public buses, which ply on fixed routes according to fixed time schedules. The most comfortable and convenient though expensive mode of travel, however, is by taxi, which are available for hire on fixed point-to-point tariff. For visits to the newly opened areas of Nubra, Dah-Hanu, Tsomoriri, Tsokar and Pangong Lakes. It is mandatory to engage the services of a registered/recognized travel agency for making all the requisite arrangements including internal transport. Detailed information about bus schedules, taxi tariff, travel agencies can be obtained from the Tourist Office or Local travels guide “Reach Ladakh”, available at Book Shops.
Every Foreign Tourist needs to pay Rs. 400 per person while entering Ladakh at Leh airport, Upshi and Khaltsey.
See more on rafting here.
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