A chance to go rafting down the Brahmaputra in the land of the rising sun

The Siang as the upper Brahmaputra is known in Arunachal Pradesh

It’s hard to raft and kayak the upper Brahmaputra River as we plan to in early December, some of the world’s best whitewater, without thinking of an early Sikkimese explorer and British spy named Khintup who tried valiantly to trace the river from its Tibetan source into India.

Khintup was sent more than one hundred years ago into Tibet, disguised as the servant of a Mongolian monk, (not long after an earlier trip with an Indian pundit named Nem Singh failed). His mission was to help British cartographers map the largely unexplored region.

Arunachal Pradesh is a land of faces you are unlikely to forget

The big unanswered question back in 1881 was to confirm whether the Tsang po River, which begins near Mount Kailash in Tibet, and flows past Lhasa turned into the upper Brahmaputra River  or the Siang as it is called in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Little was known to the outside world about the Tsangpo after it disappeared into the impenetrable 120 mile long Yarlung Tsang Po Gorge. Tibet was closed to nosy and suspicious British imperialists and it was left to Khintup to carry out a daring plan to float 500 specially marked logs down river from Tibet to British soldiers and map makers who, once notified by Khintup, would wait at the junction of the Brahmaputra and Dibang rivers.

A bridge across the upper Brahmaputra

Despite several adventures that included being sold into servitude by his no-good travelling companion who turned out to be a gambler and a womanizer and being held as the servant of a kindly monk, Khintup was finally able to release the logs. Tragically, his letter to his British masters notifying them of the event never arrived. The logs floated unnoticed into the Bay of Bengal.

The rafting and kayaking adventure organized by Rimo Expeditions (4 December – 18 December 2011) takes place downstream from the Great Bend, located between the mountains of Namche Barwa and Gyala Phari in Tibet. Not long after, the river enters India as the Siang and the upper Brahmaputra. This incredible stretch of river via which Khintup wanted to return to India, but was unable to, contains thrilling plunges and descents, where rafters ride huge waves under the  of our guidance of our experienced guides who have run rivers all over the Himalaya. The rafts are accompanied by safety kayakers, always on the standby to help, those who might take an inadvertent dip in the waters.

The thrill of whitewater rafting

Our trip involves five to six hours of on the river each day, and is a mixture of mostly Class IV and V rapids towards the beginning and float sections towards the end. Each day ends at stunningly beautiful and rarely visited riverside beach campsites.

Our adventure begins in the village of Tuting, an area home to tribal groups such as the Memba and Adi tribes but the area is also rich with Tibetan and Buddhist history and monasteries. Devout Tibetans come here every October and November as part of their annual pilgrimages to Buddhist holy sites. The famed Yang Sang Chu valley, which is accessed by crossing the Brahmaputra on a bamboo bridge is home to the caves where Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava,) the founder of Tibetan Buddhism meditated and taught at various times.

A bend in the river just downstream from the Grand Bend where the Tsangpo becomes the Siang

The rafting adventure ends seven days later at the town of Pasighat where the Siang broadens into the sprawling Brahmaputra everybody knows.

This is a trip, where the major requirements are that you are fit and determined. You will take away memories of one of India’s most beautiful states including tribal and Tibetan culture, rapids with names such as Ninguing, Pulsating Palsi, Roaring Rikor, Toothfairy, Karko Killer,Moying madness and the awesome Ponging, the dense forests through which the river flows and the chance to visit a physically and culturally fascinating region described as the land of the rising sun.

Contact us at rafting@rimoexpeditions.com for more information or visit our website for more details and prices. We outfit you and provide all safety and rafting gear. All you have to bring is yourself and the determination to have some fun and a trip of a lifetime, running one of the great rivers of the world. The cost for this 15 day trip from Delhi to Delhi is Rs. 114,500 per person. Our telephone number is +91-124-2806027/8/9.

A village in Arunachel Pradesh

Part of the upper Brahmaputra


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