Saturday 27 June 2015

White water rafting in Goa

Goa’s association with laid-back beach bumming and all-year-round partying has been hard to shake off. But the monsoons bring out a different side of Goa. Hills blanketed in lush greenery, trekking routes that open up to overflowing waterfalls, and best of all, off-season benefits. With low prices and fewer tourists, you have the chance to see Goa at the leisurely pace you seek. 

Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception Church at dusk, Panjim, Goa

This monsoon, I made a new discovery: white water rafting. Goa Tourism’s initiative to start white water rafting began in 2013, and has met with much success. It is organised by Southern River Adventures & a Sports Pvt Ltd headed by Englishman John Pollard—a 22-year-old rafting veteran who pioneered the launch of white water rafting in South India. The meeting point is Earthen Pots restaurant, located in the town of Valpoi. You can grab a meal before heading off, but I would suggest eating light. You need to leave your vehicle here together with your belongings. From here, Pollard’s team transports you to the rafting location in a van. The 10-kilometre route begins at Ustem village and ends at Sonal village in Satteri. There is a short walk after the drop-off point that takes you to your raft.

This was my third time rafting, but I was just as excited as the first time I sat in a raft. Before settling in, you have to sign off your life in case you’re eaten by a crocodile in the event of your raft toppling over. Just kidding :) the crocodile won’t wait till your raft topples! Okay, okay, I am really kidding. You will survive the ride, and have fun doing it. Just follow the safety instructions provided, and make sure you have tightly strapped on your life jacket and helmet.

Each raft usually takes on five-six people, all of whom will be rowing as instructed. An experienced guide accompanies you as well. Dragging our raft into the swollen Mhadei River, we set off to tackle the rapids. Following complete silence from my group who pretended to not hear the guide ask “Who will sit in the front?” I volunteered for the top spot. I was really excited to face the waves. Before the madness began, each individual had to take a dip in the river in order to get comfortable, and also demonstrate the ways in which they could be rescued should they fall off the raft. This was particularly unnerving for those who didn’t know how to swim, but they felt better being acquainted with the water. John, our humorous guide, told us the funny names he had coined for some of the Grade II and III rapids, such as ‘Big Daddy’, ‘Y fronts’ and ‘Giant Haystacks’.

The route was truly scenic. We were surrounded by views of the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary and the Western Ghats. It had just rained and the forest was brimming with life enveloped in thick foliage. As we rode along the gurgling Mhadei River, we faced the ‘Big Daddy’ of rapids and were drenched as the huge waves hit us. It was an exhilarating experience. Even though the route takes about 90 minutes to complete, we didn’t even realise we were approaching the end point; we really wanted more. 

Currently, white water rafting takes place only during monsoon for about 10-12 weeks, so make sure you book a spot on that raft now!

Important things to know
  • Follow all the instructions given by your guide for safety purposes.
  • Carry an extra set of clothes.
  • Wear covered shoes, instead of open chappals, as it will provide you with better grip in the raft.
  • River rafting is scheduled twice a day through the week, for which the timings are 10am and 2:30pm.
  • Be at the restaurant at least 30 minutes before the stipulated time, to incorporate the transfer time,
  • The trip cost is Rs 1,800. It includes transport to the river and back from Valpoi, and all the necessary safety equipment.
  • Don't carry a camera as you won't be able to click any photos. Pollard and his team can help provide you with photos.
For more inquiries and booking details, visit or email You can also avail of phone bookings by calling +91 7387238866 or +91 8805727230.

Read more stories on Goa:




Tushar said...

The second photo is frightening. Whats the grade of that river-rafting?

Ruchika Vyas said...

@Tushar: This was shot as we rode over a rapid. It really wasn't frightening! It was really thrilling. I think this was Grade III on that day.