A Quick Weekend Trip – River Rafting in the Kundalika River in Kolad, Maharashtra

1 Dec

Any mention of river rafting instantly conjures images of a raft on the waters of the mighty river Ganga in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. And for as long as I can remember I have wanted to go for this amazing adventure sport. But for one reason or another my rafting plans have never materialized.  I closely missed another rafting opportunity in May this year but then quite by chance, I figured that river rafting is done on the Kundalika river in Kolad, Maharashtra. There are quite a few other activities on offer too, but the most famous one is river rafting and A & I decided to go check this out.

Driving to Kolad, Maharashtra, India

Kolad is a 4 hour drive from Mumbai and we used Google Maps for the entire route, which was quite reliable. The journey was nice though bumpy in several places but ok overall. Sometime before Pali, maps took us off the main road and took us through picturesque village roads with small village houses, conical roofed temples, green fields, rivers, lakes and hills all around. Since I wasn’t driving (A was), I had the luxury of enjoying these views and switching between the important roles of being the navigator and the official photographer. We drove without any break and reached our Nature Trails camp in ~4 hours. There were options here for kayaking, zip-lining etc that can be done between 5.00-6.30pm but we just walked to the river and watched the sunset and the surrounding scenery acquiring its beautiful colors.

Sunset in Kolad, Maharashtra, India

The next day we woke up bright and early and all set for the river rafting adventure. We didn’t look around for any river rafting operators and just booked the tour through the camp. We couldn’t self-drive our car to the starting point (around 20 kms from the camp); while rafting you cover ~12-12.5kms down the river (over 2 – 3 hours) and need someone to pick you up at the end point. The camp can arrange for cars / autos and charge separately for it (over and above the fees for rafting). Luckily we tagged along with another large group staying at the camp and ended up sharing this expense. The camp also advised us not to carry anything with us including phones, wallets etc and we just kept our keys and some money (inside a plastic bag) in a pocket with a zip.

Our camp, Kolad, Maharashtra, India

River rafting in Kolad happens every day and all-round the year as it is connected to the water released by the Ravalje Power station after their power generation. We were told that the reporting time for rafting is 8.30am and were all ready in time for it, but nothing happened till 9.45am. While waiting we decided to walk to the river, which at this time seemed more like a stream and we couldn’t believe how we could raft in this little quantity of water. Half an hour before the Ravalje Power station started the power generation, a siren was sounded to warn the people. This was an indication for operators to start pulling out their equipment and start preparing for the day’s activity. Half an hour after this the second siren was sounded which was a signal for the instructors to start the briefing. They assembled all of us in the waiting area and split the assembled groups into teams of 9-10 people per raft and assigned an instructor to each group. The instructors then handed out our safety gear (a lifejacket and a helmet) and helped us wear it correctly. We also got our paddles and I thought we all looked like armed soldiers ready to battle the river Kundalika :). Since I was trying this sport for the first time (A has done it in Rishikesh before), at this point I started to get a little apprehensive and seriously wondering what have I gotten myself into.

Rapids on Kundalika River, Kolad, Maharashtra, India

We then walked towards the river and were amazed to see its transformation by now. It no longer resembled the tiny stream we had seen just a short while ago, but had become a big swiftly flowing river with a lot of water. Our instructors began an introductory session by guiding us through various paddling techniques and guidelines, safety instructions to be followed in case we fall out of the raft and other do’s and don’ts. We didn’t need any prior experiences of rafting or swimming but have to inform the instructors of any medical conditions including a broken heart :). We then got into our rafts, took out seats and slowly eased the raft into the water. We practiced the various maneuvers we had just learnt and my initial skepticism was replaced by excitement and I warmed up for the upcoming fun.

All set for rafting, Kundalika river, Kolad, Maharashtra, India

There are around 8-10 rapids ranging from grade 2-3 on this river and we kept hitting them one after the other. The huge waves advancing and the cold water hitting us, was both scary and thrilling at the same time. After the first rapid, my initial fear had completely evaporated and I looked forward to each new rapid and enjoyed the ride. All thoughts were wiped out and all I could think was rapid, paddle, splash of water and scream with joy and excitement. Since we couldn’t carry any phones / cameras, the instructors keep a camera and took pictures for everyone on the raft. We posed for many pictures and tried various stunts of standing on the moving raft, dipping our heads in the water etc. Towards the end of the ride and once the river was calm, everyone jumped into the river and had a nice time either swimming or generally floating on the water.

At the end of the trip, we carried the raft out of the water and helped the instructor carry it up to the end point. It was at this point we realized how heavy it can be. The end point is a chaotic place with small shops offering tea, pakodas and vada pav and drivers looking for their passengers. We found our driver and finally returned to our camp. Overall an amazing trip and  can’t wait to try this again, but this time in the mighty Ganges.

Tips for the trip –

  1. Overall I felt that if you have never done rafting before, then Kolad is worth trying for the first time. For people who have done rafting in Kolad and Rishikesh, the grades for Rishikesh are higher and if you rafted in Rishikesh, chances are you might not like rafting in Kolad.
  2. The Kolad rafting schedule depends solely on the water released by the power station and every day water is expected to be released at about 8:15 a.m. But there can be delays, thereby delaying rafting too.
  3. In case, by a very rare chance, the power station does not release water in the river, rafting is cancelled and everyone gets a refund of their booking amount. However the operators will not provide any refund for reaching the starting point late / post the raft departing on the activity.
  4. Rafting happens here all year round but the ideal time for rafting on Kundalika is from June to January, with the best time being during the monsoon season (the water levels are high and currents are strong).
  5. Kolad is a 4 hour drive from Mumbai and we drove our own car. There are options of buses and trains too and you can check this link for more information on this – https://www.kolad.in/blogs/
  6. I heard from people in Kolad, that from Pune you can also do this like a day trip i.e. start early in the morning and reach the rafting starting point directly.
  7. We stayed at the Nature Trails Camp but there are other options too.
  8. We booked a stay including dinner and breakfast (as there is nothing else around). There is an option of booking lunch (post the rafting trip) but we checked out and decided to have lunch on the way instead.
  9. We didn’t look around for rafting operators and paid Rs. 1,350/- per person for our booking through our camp. There are multiple operators and you can shop around.
  10. We couldn’t self-drive to the starting point (around 20 kms from the camp) as while rafting you cover ~12-12.5kms down the river and you need someone to pick you up at the end point. The camp can arrange for cars / autos and charge Rs. 700 – 800/-separately for it (over and above the fees for rafting). Luckily we tagged along with another large group staying in the camp and ended up paying only Rs. 300/- for both of us.
  11. Eat light before rafting. Carry your own water and some energy bars
  12. If you are suffering from any health issues, then check with the operators before booking the trip. Also, children and pregnant women are not allowed to try this sport.
  13. What to wear for rafting –
    • Wear quick dry clothes and avoid cottons
    • Wear water proof footwear with straps / laces. Please do not wear any heels
    • If you are wearing spectacles or sunglasses then do wear a retainer strap
    • Do not wear any jewelry, danglers around neck, ears or wrists  etc as you might lose it in the water
  14. Use a lot of sunscreen
  15. Don’t carry anything that can get spoilt in the water or fall off. For example don’t carry your phone, cameras, wallets, sun glasses, keys, etc. If you want to carry any of these items, then carry a water proof bag with a zip to keep these items safe.
  16. The instructors carry a camera and take pictures throughout the trip. They charge Rs. 2,000/- for the entire raft and you can split the expense depending on the number of people in the raft. You can collect these pictures at the end of the trip.
  17. There is a washroom at the starting point of rafting but not at the end point.
  18. At the end point, there are small shops selling water, cold drinks, vada pav, pakodas etc. In case you buy something here and are not carrying any money with you, then the shop keepers ask you to hand over the pending amounts to the driver once you reach your camp.

8 Responses to “A Quick Weekend Trip – River Rafting in the Kundalika River in Kolad, Maharashtra”

  1. Bon Repos Gites December 1, 2019 at 22:45 #

    Sounds like you had a great time!

    Like

  2. Kelsie Lou December 2, 2019 at 00:53 #

    Looks like fun. I’ve always wanted to try river rafting.

    Like

  3. whimsicalsymphony December 2, 2019 at 01:54 #

    I lived in Mumbai for 3 years and had no idea river rafting was a few hours away! Loved your write up!

    Like

    • getsetandgo December 2, 2019 at 10:43 #

      Thanks for visiting my blog and the kind words.. I have lived in Mumbai all my life and discovered this just recently myself..

      Like

  4. Christie December 3, 2019 at 01:58 #

    Looks like you’ve had an amazing adventure! I’m not into rafting, but I could gaze for hours at the scenery and the amazing sunset😊
    Christie

    Like

    • getsetandgo December 3, 2019 at 11:42 #

      I know what you mean about sunsets… I am constantly photographing them and somehow no two sunsets (even in the same location) are ever alike 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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