Rafting in Arunachal Pradesh is experiencing nature in its rawest, most incredible form. While rafting on the Ganga in Uttarakhand has become quite a mainstream activity, the Brahmaputra is for those who prefer clean, primitive, unaltered habitats, with a high dose of adrenaline to boot. I took a three-week training course in rafting and put the mighty river on my bucket list. What I didn’t expect was that the tumultuous river would throw such rapids at me that, despite my training, I would find myself in high water!

A completely different brand of travellers usually visit Arunachal Pradesh – those who are true adventure aficionados at heart. You can find all sorts of adventure sports in this off-beat destination – everything from hiking, camping, and rafting to angling and biking are up for grabs in this state.

I took this river rafting trip back in November 2015 after the monsoon rains had just ended in the state, and the river was at its uproarious best.

Before I even began my rafting experience, I was blown away by the beauty around me – on either side of the river you will see dense forests, tribal habitation and the water here is absolutely crystal clear. It’s nothing less than paradise!

I considered listening to the local tour guides who told me to sign up for kayaking, but better sense prevailed and I did not overestimate my adventure/rowing skills.

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Ahtushi Deshpande
River rafting offers the adrenaline junkie the perfect blend of danger and adventure
River rafting offers the adrenaline junkie the perfect blend of danger and adventure

If you have rafted in the Ganga anywhere near Rishikesh, you will realise that rafting in the Brahmaputra River requires more skill and experience. The intimidation I felt when I sat in the raft is indescribable. To say that the rapids here scared me would be a massive understatement. This experience is definitely not for the faint-hearted! The river here is untamable and absolutely wild, and it feels as if you’re raft is a bucking stallion ready to knock you off the saddle.

Once you make it through the rapids though, you will sail through calm waters – quite a contrast to the start of your rafting experience on this unpredictable river. Finally, when you reach dry land and you realise that you managed to conquer your fears and traverse the twists and turns of the turbulent Brahmputra, you will gain a new appreciation for nature and its raw beauty. In Arunachal Pradesh, the river really does run wild!

Aquaterra Adventures (Delhi Tel: 011-29212641/ 2760, aquaterra.in), is the leading adventure travel outfit for rafting on the Brahmaputra. It runs The Great Brahmaputra Descent Siang River Expedition in November and December every year. The departures for 2017 are from 19 November–1 December and 2–14 December. The 13-day expedition costs ₹1,20,000 per person, which includes accommodation on a twin sharing basis, all meals, lead safety boater, transfers, guide, wetsuits and sightseeing.

Where to Stay & Eat

You need to reach Dibrugarh for onward travel for rafting on the Brahmaputra. There are plenty of accommodation options in Dibrugarh. Dibrugarh Club House (Tel: 0373-2323490, Cell: 09706054107; Tariff: ₹1,999–4,999), which is located on AT Road, is one of the best places to stay. It has a restaurant, bar, gym and a swimming pool. Other options on AT Road are Hotel Devika (Tel: 2325956, Cell: 07896636157; Tariff: ₹970–1,890); and Hotel Rajawas (Tel: 2323307, 2324303, Cell: 09401030551; Tariff: ₹1,400–4,250). Hotel Natraj (Tel: 2327275, 2328995, Cell: 09707609855; Tariff: ₹2,100–9,000) on HS Road; and Tulip Residency (Tel: 2328080, Cell: 08486044444; Tariff: ₹1,999–2,699) located near the overbridge are other good accommodation options in Dibrugarh.

It’s a good idea to combine your adventure trip with a stay at one of the beautiful heritage tea bungalows, which were established by the British planters. Mancotta Heritage Chang Bungalow (Tel: 230110, 230035; Tariff: ₹8,000–9,500) and Chowkidinghee Heritage Chang Bungalow (Tel: 230110, 230035; Tariff: ₹4,500–8,500) are located in the midst of a lovely tea garden. Walking through the tea plantations and visiting the tea factory here are wonderful, educative experiences.

Most hotels in Dibrugarh have their own restaurants serving Indian and Chinese cuisine. The Dibrugarh Club House has the best restaurant and bar in town. The restaurant at Hotel Natraj is also quite popular. There are many small restaurants scattered around town. MFC is a popular joint in Thana Charali. Madhumita’s is a fast food joint in Santipara. Riddhi on RKB Road serves good Chinese, Indian and Continental. H2O is a bar restaurant on Mancotta Road. Eat Repeat serves good multi-cuisine fare.

Getting There

Air Nearest airport: Mohanbari Airport, 15km northeast of Dibrugarh. Taxi to city centre is about ₹12,000–15,000

Rail Dibrugarh Town and Dibrugarh are the two railway stations serv­ing the city. Important trains include Rajdhani Express, Brahmaputra mail, Chandigarh-Dibrugarh Express and Dibrugarh-Egmore Chennai Express