River Rafting might be a leisure sport for some; but for non-swimmers like us, it was a deadly adventure. Bored of our mundane and monotonous professional life, we decide to go on a rafting trip. Located 100 km from Pune and 140 km from Mumbai, the Kundalika river rafting in Kolad is a perfect weekend getaway for Punekars and Mumbaikars. The sound of waves, the greenery around and the slow-paced village life is quite a stress buster for people like us staying in land-locked cities.
People go for an overnight trip and stay in camps or resorts but we decided to drive down to the rafting base village early morning. The rafting starts between 8:30 to 9:30 AM based on the time at which water is released from the Bhira dam.
Our First River Rafting Experience
In Kolad, 60-100 people come for river rafting on a typical weekend. 8-10 people sit in 1 raft along with the guide. Before you start the rafting, do make friends with your raft-mates because they are the ones who will save your life if you get into any kind of trouble in the next 2 hours. Just Kidding! Thankfully, Our guide exuded the confidence and knowledge that calmed the nerves of first-time rafters in our group. He was trained in Rishikesh - one of the best places in India for rafting because of its unfathomable Rapids and the velocity of the river water. We were given instruction on how we as a team should paddle to tackle the rough water, medium waves, and large waves.
It was a 12 km exciting stretch with grade II and III rapids which took us about 2.5 hours. The moment you enter the grade III rapids prepare yourself for the raging white water. You feel the happiness of water splashing on your entire body and also the fear of falling off the raft and drowning in the water at the same time. It is an amazing feeling to emerge victorious and completely drenched after navigating through enormous torrents.
Throughout the journey, the guide gives you instructions when to paddle front, paddle back and when to stop paddling. Everyone on the raft has to work in unison to maintain the stability.
We started off with not following many instructions as we could hardly recollect the plethora of information bombarded on us. Also, most of us were first timers and non-swimmer, the team was busy ensuring they don't fall off the raft during high tides. Gradually we picked up some confidence and started paddling in sync. It was fun to maneuver the raft through the rapids to the place where the water was almost still and tranquil. After the last rapid, everyone jumped into the water and we started drifting. Swimming for the first time in 40 feet deep river water gave us an adrenaline rush.
Once we were through with Rafting, we took a taxi to the base village to change the wet clothes and shoes. The moment you get out of the raft, you start feeling hunger pangs. There are villagers selling cold drink, Samosa and Bhaji at the rafting end point. You can either have that or you can pre-book the lunch with the rafting operator and directly drive down to have a complete meal. There are hardly any food options available in the nearby area. Do not have high expectations from the food!
Precautions: Rafting in Kundalika river (Kolad) is safe as the water flow is controlled by the Bhira dam. It can be a fearful activity for first-timers and non-swimmers. Just follow these 3 steps for your rafting to be a fun filled adventure
Tighten your life jacket properly before starting the journey Wear Helmet Follow instructions given by the guide
Use sunscreen to avoid tanning ????
How To Reach: The start point for rafting is located at the Saje village below the Bhira dam.
From Pune (100Kms) - Take the Mulshi dam road and drive down Tamhinighat till Vile. 1 Km after Vile turn right on Pali - Khopoli road and then turn left for Saje village. From Mumbai (140Kms) - Take the Mumbai - Pune Expressway till Khalapur toll. Take an exit towards Imagica and continue on Khopoli - Pali Road. Follow the maps toBhira Dam and then turn right to reach Saje Village.
Best Time to Visit: The best time to go river rafting in Kolad is during Monsoon - Mid-June to September.
Things to Carry: Rafting equipment, life jacket, helmets, paddles are provided by the organizers. You can carry the below things with you:
A change of dry clothes A towel Sun Glass/ spectacle retainers Sunscreen Lotion (It is a must) Snacks (There are very few food options available at the village)
Cost: The total cost of our 1-day trip to Kolad was approximately Rs. 4500 ($75)
Rafting: The river rafting cost may vary from Rs. 1200 per person in the off-season to Rs. 2000 during monsoon. Also, the weekday and weekend rates are different. In June, we paid Rs. 1300 per person. Commute: The start and end point of rafting are 22km by road. Shared taxis (Non AC) are available at Rs. 100 per person. If you have your own vehicle, then one of the employees of the rafting group will drive your vehicle to the end point for Rs. 400. Travel: Total fuel cost for a 200 km return journey was approx. Rs.1000 Food: You get decent food at Rs. 300 per person