River rapids are classified from Grade I to VI depending on the degree of difficulty they present in manoeuvring a Raft/ Kayak/ Cataraft through it.
GRADE I: Easy, small waves. No obstacles.
GRADE II: Moderate difficulty with clear passages.
GRADE III: Difficult, high irregular waves, narrow passages. Requires precise manoeuvring.
GRADE IV: Difficult, powerful waves. Very precise manoeuvring required.
GRADE V: Extremely difficult, violent, and highly congested. Team of experts only.
GRADE VI: Not to be run.
River rafting is one of the most popular adventure sports around the world. India with its diverse topography and hundreds of rivers and tributaries is a hotspot for adventure junkies who come here to experience some of the best and most challenging rapids and river rafting expeditions. Based in Rishikesh, in the northern state of Uttarakhand, we at Red Chilli Adventure could develop expertise and offer adventure tour solutions for enthusiasts. Our proximity to the Ganga and other great rivers like Alaknanda and Kali gives us a thorough knowledge of the best routes to chart for river rafting. We use our extensive knowledge of the region for classification of rapids according to their grades and choose river courses for basic, intermediate and advance level tours.
Grade I rapids are broadly defined as “Easy”. They are ideal for first-time rafters. These rapids include small waves with little or no obstruction and pose no real danger for the people on the raft. Grade I rapids can be enjoyed with the whole family for a fun ride on the water. International rafting standards define Grade II rapids as “Moderate”. These rapids usually have clear passages and require very slight manoeuvring. Grade II rapids do have some rocks and boulders, but these can be easily avoided with the right training and guidance from trainers. The rapids on the higher end of this difficulty scale are rated as Grade II+ rapids. River rafting packages with Red Chilli Adventure, especially for beginners, lets you encounter several Grade II and II+ rapids. Our Brahmapuri trip near Rishikesh involves a 9km rafting stretch on the Ganga. A full hour on the water here lets you encounter three famous Grade II rapids like Jail No Bail, Double Trouble and Hilton on the Ganga. These Grade II rapids are ideal for half-day trips and for beginners looking for a quick adrenaline rush and a brief taste of the sport.
Grade III rapids are considered “Difficult” with irregular waves and narrow passages. These rapids require precise manoeuvring. Fast currents on large rivers make it difficult to avoid the waves which can flood the raft. It is advisable to do a recce of the rapid before navigating it. The Grade III and III+ rapids are for slightly more experienced rafters who have had prior trips and know the basic rafting techniques of manoeuvring and control. Uttarakhand is a popular rafting destination in India. A trip in Shivpuri, in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand presents a 16 kilometre stretch on the Ganga where you can encounter popular Grade III rapids like the Roller Coaster, Golf Course and Club House. Our multi-day river rafting packages in Rishikesh include a 26-kilometre rafting stretch on the Ganga. It is a full-day affair with almost 10 Grade III and III+ rapids named according to their types.
Three Blind Mice is a Grade III rapid called so as the water appears almost calm until you get to 3 quick and consecutive rapids, each following the other very closely. This stretch usually takes 2-3 hours to cover, but could take up to 3-4 hours in the months of December and January. Despite having so many Grade III rapids, this is still a fairly easy rafting stretch that can be manoeuvred by beginners without the risk of any real danger. Crossfire is another famous Grade III rapid found on this leg of the trip.
Another 35-kilometre rafting stretch from Kaudiyala brings you to Daniel’s Dip, the interestingly named Grade III rapid. This trip is run only when the river is running relatively high as otherwise it’s impossible to cover the full stretch in a day.
Grade IV rapids are termed “Advanced”. They are difficult with powerful waves that require very precise manoeuvring to avoid getting capsized. These rapids do entail a certain degree of danger depending on the river and its force. Navigating these rapids requires a proper scouting beforehand. Self-rescue can be difficult on these rapids and the help of trained professionals is necessary. The upper Alaknanda trip from Chamoli to Rudraprayag in Uttarakhand offers over 85 Grade III and IV rapids. This trip is completed over multiple days and begins by easing you in and familiarising you with rafting techniques. The first day lets you get your feet wet (literally!) with some moderate Grade III rapids on a 20km stretch to Rishikesh. These include popular rapids like Body Surfing, Roller Coaster etc.
At Chamoli, we go to Putin and face some spectacular Grade IV and IV+ rapids like the Hillary Falls in Nandprayag. Depending on the level of water, we either walk around the rapid or face it. The confluence of the Pindar river at Karanprayag has more Grade IV rapids. Here, the Pindar river adds more water to the already voluminous Alaknanda, adding more punch to the rapids on this route. The last leg of the trip is to cross another Grade IV rapid called the Holy Hole.
The emerald green Sarayu river in the Kumaon range of Uttarakhand has some challenging Grade IV and IV+ rapids. At Pancheswar, the Sarayu river combines with the river Kali, which presents a fantastic Grade IV+ rapid called The Chuka near Pari Gaon. This needs to be scouted well in advance to avoid the raft getting capsized.
Our river rafting packages in the Zanskar river in Ladakh also offer some great Grade IV and IV+ rapids.
Grade V rapids are the most challenging and rated “Expert”. They can be encountered only on advance-level rafting expeditions in India. These rapids are violent and extremely congested and can be navigated by expert rafters only. They entail drops that have large unavoidable waves. Navigating a Grade V rapid requires the proper rafting gear and equipment as well as experienced rescue teams in case of an emergency. Rudraprayag in Uttarakhand has a massive Grade V rapid called the Kakar Fall. The rapid is so named because the canyon surrounding it is narrow enough for a Kakar or deer to leap across. A thorough inspection of the canyon is made before we decide to negotiate it or line up the raft to enter this narrow box canyon.
Red Chilli Adventure’s Brahmaputra rafting expedition in Arunachal Pradesh lets you experience some thrilling Grade IV and V rapids like the Ninguing, Broken Oar, Pulsating Pulse, Hairy Hari and Moying Madness.
Grade VI rapids are mostly considered unfit for navigation. Navigation of this grade of rapids is rarely attempted and entails a great deal of danger. We encounter few Grade VI rapids on our rafting tours and never negotiate them. The Tooth Fairy is a spectacular Grade VI rapid that can be found on the Brahmaputra. We move around this rapid towards the Marmong gorge.
White water rafting in India is an exhilarating experience no matter how many times you do it. However, it’s important to know what you’re going in for before you sign up for any trip. At Red Chilli Adventure we plan our tour carefully to suit the experience and fitness levels of every rafter. So, book a rafting expedition with us today and discover some fantastic rapids for yourself!