In June I started my Indian travels in Uttarakhand and I think it is the most underrated kayaking destination I have ever been to. It is super convenient; straight off the flight in Delhi we got a 6 hour taxi to Rishikesh, which is an ideal base for your trip, and you can even catch the local bus there if you fancy it after your 8-hour flight! A quick run down the warm water and big waves of the Ganga will leave you buzzing and excited to explore the tributaries further up the valley.
We were in Uttarakhand in the run up to monsoon, which meant that we had higher water levels than we had quite anticipated. This became very apparent on the upper section of the Alaknanda; we had been expecting a nice grade 4 first multiday and instead were presented with pushy, fast water interspersed with some really big rapids. Possibly not my best introduction to big volume!
In the few weeks that we stayed in the state we enjoyed cheap, easy logistics on local buses; expert knowledge and advice from Indian kayaking legend Shalabh; beautiful accommodation at the Shivanandi River Lodge; and super fun alpine-style multiday kayaking – ranging from the narrow ditch at the top of the Pindar to the massive waves of the Ganga.
The Pindar is one of the best adventures I’ve ever been on and here’s all the reasons why: 6 days, 4 nights camping, 1 bus ride, 3 jeeps, 5km walking, 1 amazing Nepalese community who welcomed us for the night, 1 sketchy tree incident, 4 hours of arduous portage, maybe a million blood-hungry leeches, 2 cold nights shivering under blankets, breath-taking scenery and over 100km of amazing whitewater.
Here’s a short edit which totally does not do the river justice:
I cannot recommend a trip to Uttarakhand enough. There’s no guidebook so we used various online notes and trip reports. I’ve written up some river notes for people to use. Disclaimer: this is all from my own experience / opinion and is very subjective!
If you’d like to go to Uttarakhand (or elsewhere in India) but are not sure you have the experience for an independent trip, check out www.allindiaoverland.com