Camping & Rafting on Alaknanda at Jayalgarh, Beyond Rishikesh - GIO Adventures

Beyond Rishikesh: Unadulterated fun on the rapids

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I had planned that this year to be one filled with great feats of endurance and adventure – well, at least in my head. Even though I love the sea andrivers, rafting is in the slightly challenging territory. Tell me to hike, and I can do any amount of leg-work, but the frothy rapids tend to give me minor jitters. It has something to do with these words - “If we capsize, don’t be nervous. Ditch the boat and get on your back. We’ll come for you” – words that had come from the mouth of a rafting guide I had met a long time ago. Since then, I had never wanted to hear the words ‘capsize’ and ‘nervous’ in the same sentence ever again. Even though it was a distant memory, I needed to get a grip on this and signed up for a rafting trip in the lower Himalayas in late March.

Jayalgarh Camp

Jayalgarh Campsite

Author: Jyotsna Ramani
Hi, I'm Jo - A passionate globetrotter, wildlife enthusiast, thrill seeker and writer. I love to explore new places and inspire others to travel. I like to travel far and wide (Well, Africa counts, right?) and then come back to this blog to share my escapades. Pretty nifty,eh? So, don't you want to uncover secret drinking holes, get your adrenaline pumping by reading my adventure tales and see awesome new places through my eyes? If yes, then grab a beer, kick off your shoes and enjoy the read!

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I had planned that this year to be one filled with great feats of endurance and adventure – well, at least in my head. Even though I love the sea andrivers, rafting is in the slightly challenging territory. Tell me to hike, and I can do any amount of leg-work, but the frothy rapids tend to give me minor jitters. It has something to do with these words - “If we capsize, don’t be nervous. Ditch the boat and get on your back. We’ll come for you” – words that had come from the mouth of a rafting guide I had met a long time ago. Since then, I had never wanted to hear the words ‘capsize’ and ‘nervous’ in the same sentence ever again. Even though it was a distant memory, I needed to get a grip on this and signed up for a rafting trip in the lower Himalayas in late March.

Think rafting, and the first destination that comes to mind for Delhi travellers, is Shivpuri in Rishikesh. It has been the go-to rafting destination in North India for decades, and with the burgeoning interest in outdoor adventure for Indians, the footfall has increased by many folds – in turn, taking away the interest in the destination, for those of us who like to take the path less-treaded.So instead, Jayalgarh seemed to be a more legit choice.

The small and picturesque town of Jayalgarh lies serenely nestled in the foothills of the majestic Garhwal Himalayas, a mere 90 km from the holy city of Rishikesh.One of the hidden secrets of Uttarakhand’s adventure trail, it is for the discerning traveller, who wants to detox from city life. Well connected with all major nodes to the region - Rishikesh, Dehradun, Haridwar – it is ideal for a short getaway of 2 to 3 days. My pad was the riverside locatedHimalayan Eco Lodges& Camp. As their guest,I had access to rafting and some other adventure activities around the camp.

try-bridge-slithering-in-Jayalgarh

Ducky boat experience

For me the Himalayan Eco Lodge camp at Jayalgarh, was love at first sight. The campsite is lined with luxury tents overlooking the Alaknanda River, with well manicured lawns, a common dining pavillion and a riverside private sandy patch to relax in.The Alaknanda River was literally gushing at my door step. Or at least it felt so, when it sliced the silence of the night.

Unlike Rishikesh, where rafting is done in River Ganga, hereI would be bobbing on the Alaknanda River. I soon realised why this area was considered as a premier rafting destination. Not only was it free of the usualclutch of noisy fun seekers, which you encounter down stream at Rishikesh, but the place exuded its own rustic charm. The river water was crytal clean and really inviting – my nervousness was already ebbing away.

try-bridge-slithering-in-Jayalgarh

Confident smile after a rapid

On the first day I checked in, I had reserved time to just relax and take in the surroundings. A full stomach of local food and a good night’s sleep, had me pepared for what was in store tom.Waking up to an ochestra of birdsong from the surrounding forest, was delightful. I was indeed privileged to spend some memorable moments in and around the camp spotting some of the rare and elusive bird species. As a novice birder, a pair of male and female Egyptian vultures by the banks of the river, made my morning.

Soon, it was time to dip my feet in the water. The speciality of rafting in the Alaknanda is that you encounter relatively easierGrade I and Grade II rapids along the first 12 km stretch from Srinagar (a small village upstream) to Jayalgarh. We made a short journey to the starting point. After instructions and gearing up, I took my seat inside the raft and paddled with all my might as the guide yelled instructions to us . In stretches, when there was a lull, I noticed that this river patch was absolutley crowd-free. What a contrast to the raft-clogged river near Rishikesh. Along the banks were a handful of villages wedged in the intense green colours of nature. The morning ended well with my nerves already soothed. The hour long rafting warm-up was a precursor to something more exciting the next day.

Early morning, helmet, life-jacket and paddle in place, we set out early to meet the river again – this time stepping only meters away from the camp. The second and more exciting rafting experience begins at the Jayalgarh Camp and extends for a distance of approximately 23 km till Devprayag, the confluence of the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi.This 3 hour long trip passes through some splendid Grade 2 and Grade 3 rapids and gorgeous vistas at the edge of the river. With more stable nerves this time round, I was more confident when we went over the rapids – even if they were threateningly called Big Brother and Bhagwan. There was also a Small Brother which served as a breather. The final rapid on this stretch near Devprayag, is aptly known as Confluence. The ride finally over, arms and legs aching with fatigue, I had a smile on my face. The guide mentioned that one can even encounter rapids as high as Grade 5, but those are part of more adventurous expeditions. For a weekend of adventure and rafting induction, this was apt.

The tryst with rafting was finally over, but there was more adventure on the cards. Energized with the last two days, I was happy to hear that there was rock climbing, rappelling, trekking, cliff jumping or my personal favourite, bridge slithering still left on the cards. In the interest of time, I chose bridge slithering. My guide and I went from the campsite to a bridge. I was used to the gearing up routine by now. But what came next was truly exhilirating. I slithered down the sides of the bridge slowly, watching the beauty of the surroundings from mid air. Then came the free fall in the cold water –a perfect booster for the day. I could have done it a dozen more times if we didn’t have to head back. The sun’s rays were slanting and night came swiftly.

After dinner, I slumped into an easy chair on the sit-out area of my tent, assimilating the last few days. It was just March, and I had checked off a few adventures on my list already and inspired enough to take on more. I caught myself thinking about all that was on my list for the year and where would I be heading next. I stopped. I hadn’t even noticed that the sound of the river was a perfect background score to the night. There was not a peep of happy revellers, music blaring or the city din. It was the perfect time for quiet contemplation and taking in the fresh mountain air. I was grateful that I was not in the middle of Rishikesh.


>>   Plan Your Rafting on Alaknanda (3 Days) With GIO Adventures

I had planned that this year to be one filled with great feats of endurance and adventure – well, at least in my head. Even though I love the sea andrivers, rafting is in the slightly challenging territory. Tell me to hike, and I can do any amount of leg-work, but the frothy rapids tend to give me minor jitters. It has something to do with these words - “If we capsize, don’t be nervous. Ditch the boat and get on your back. We’ll come for you” – words that had come from the mouth of a rafting guide I had met a long time ago. Since then, I had never wanted to hear the words ‘capsize’ and ‘nervous’ in the same sentence ever again. Even though it was a distant memory, I needed to get a grip on this and signed up for a rafting trip in the lower Himalayas in late March.

Think rafting, and the first destination that comes to mind for Delhi travellers, is Shivpuri in Rishikesh. It has been the go-to rafting destination in North India for decades, and with the burgeoning interest in outdoor adventure for Indians, the footfall has increased by many folds – in turn, taking away the interest in the destination, for those of us who like to take the path less-treaded.So instead, Jayalgarh seemed to be a more legit choice.

try-bridge-slithering-in-Jayalgarh

Ducky boat experience

The small and picturesque town of Jayalgarh lies serenely nestled in the foothills of the majestic Garhwal Himalayas, a mere 90 km from the holy city of Rishikesh.One of the hidden secrets of Uttarakhand’s adventure trail, it is for the discerning traveller, who wants to detox from city life. Well connected with all major nodes to the region - Rishikesh, Dehradun, Haridwar – it is ideal for a short getaway of 2 to 3 days. My pad was the riverside locatedHimalayan Eco Lodges& Camp. As their guest,I had access to rafting and some other adventure activities around the camp.

For me the Himalayan Eco Lodge camp at Jayalgarh, was love at first sight. The campsite is lined with luxury tents overlooking the Alaknanda River, with well manicured lawns, a common dining pavillion and a riverside private sandy patch to relax in.The Alaknanda River was literally gushing at my door step. Or at least it felt so, when it sliced the silence of the night.

Unlike Rishikesh, where rafting is done in River Ganga, hereI would be bobbing on the Alaknanda River. I soon realised why this area was considered as a premier rafting destination. Not only was it free of the usualclutch of noisy fun seekers, which you encounter down stream at Rishikesh, but the place exuded its own rustic charm. The river water was crytal clean and really inviting – my nervousness was already ebbing away.

try-bridge-slithering-in-Jayalgarh

Confident smile after a rapid

On the first day I checked in, I had reserved time to just relax and take in the surroundings. A full stomach of local food and a good night’s sleep, had me pepared for what was in store tom.Waking up to an ochestra of birdsong from the surrounding forest, was delightful. I was indeed privileged to spend some memorable moments in and around the camp spotting some of the rare and elusive bird species. As a novice birder, a pair of male and female Egyptian vultures by the banks of the river, made my morning.

Soon, it was time to dip my feet in the water. The speciality of rafting in the Alaknanda is that you encounter relatively easierGrade I and Grade II rapids along the first 12 km stretch from Srinagar (a small village upstream) to Jayalgarh. We made a short journey to the starting point. After instructions and gearing up, I took my seat inside the raft and paddled with all my might as the guide yelled instructions to us . In stretches, when there was a lull, I noticed that this river patch was absolutley crowd-free. What a contrast to the raft-clogged river near Rishikesh. Along the banks were a handful of villages wedged in the intense green colours of nature. The morning ended well with my nerves already soothed. The hour long rafting warm-up was a precursor to something more exciting the next day.

Early morning, helmet, life-jacket and paddle in place, we set out early to meet the river again – this time stepping only meters away from the camp. The second and more exciting rafting experience begins at the Jayalgarh Camp and extends for a distance of approximately 23 km till Devprayag, the confluence of the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi.This 3 hour long trip passes through some splendid Grade 2 and Grade 3 rapids and gorgeous vistas at the edge of the river. With more stable nerves this time round, I was more confident when we went over the rapids – even if they were threateningly called Big Brother and Bhagwan. There was also a Small Brother which served as a breather. The final rapid on this stretch near Devprayag, is aptly known as Confluence. The ride finally over, arms and legs aching with fatigue, I had a smile on my face. The guide mentioned that one can even encounter rapids as high as Grade 5, but those are part of more adventurous expeditions. For a weekend of adventure and rafting induction, this was apt.

The tryst with rafting was finally over, but there was more adventure on the cards. Energized with the last two days, I was happy to hear that there was rock climbing, rappelling, trekking, cliff jumping or my personal favourite, bridge slithering still left on the cards. In the interest of time, I chose bridge slithering. My guide and I went from the campsite to a bridge. I was used to the gearing up routine by now. But what came next was truly exhilirating. I slithered down the sides of the bridge slowly, watching the beauty of the surroundings from mid air. Then came the free fall in the cold water –a perfect booster for the day. I could have done it a dozen more times if we didn’t have to head back. The sun’s rays were slanting and night came swiftly.

After dinner, I slumped into an easy chair on the sit-out area of my tent, assimilating the last few days. It was just March, and I had checked off a few adventures on my list already and inspired enough to take on more. I caught myself thinking about all that was on my list for the year and where would I be heading next. I stopped. I hadn’t even noticed that the sound of the river was a perfect background score to the night. There was not a peep of happy revellers, music blaring or the city din. It was the perfect time for quiet contemplation and taking in the fresh mountain air. I was grateful that I was not in the middle of Rishikesh.


>>   Plan Your Rafting on Alaknanda (3 Days) With GIO Adventures

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