Jan 26 2012


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It was early spring last year when we decided that a whitewater trip on the Siang (aka Brahamputra) river might be a good idea. As we had three weeks off, Subansiri, River of Gold, as a second trip sounded like another good idea too.
Travelling in Arunachal Pradesh is not meant to be easy. Tourists are few, you need special permits, have to be a group of at least 4 persons, need to be accompagnied by a local guide… So we decided to sort out logistics the lazy way. Very soon we got in contact with Vaibhav from Aquaterra. We found ourselves able to rent kayaks with him, make the two trips in one go and got all the paperwork for the restricted area permits done… And we were with guys who know the area very well, heard a lot about culture we probably wouldn’t if travelling on our own. No need to care for food, transports etc. Simply enjoying one day of kayaking after the other!

on the drive up

The two-day drive to the put-in of the Siang is very interesting. You drive through multiple Adi villages whith their nice bamboo sheds and friendly people.

friendly Arunachal people

The probably only reason for this street going up the Siang valley is the military presence up on the nearby Chinese border. It’s mostly unpaved, crossing small bridges, and sometimes upcoming traffic creates interesting situations… But easy man: blow horn! We spent two 8/9h days for the ~190km drive to Tuting, which maybe gives an impression about the road conditions.

The two of us were the only foreign kayakers, teaming up with Khana Singh, Sanjay jun. and Nagendra providing safety for the rafts. We set the first camp on the shore, next to the famous Ningguin rapid. They don’t run it with rafts any longer, but for us kayakers it looked OK. Water was pretty high, due to late and heavy monsoon rainfalls. No time for warm up or accomodating to the never before paddled kayaks. We carried up und gave it a go. What looked huge from the shore, was even bigger and much faster than it seemed:-) This is big water!

Whitewater impressions

The first two days incl. the gorge section contain some pretty big rapids, and at this level boils sometimes became pretty impressive. Day three was rather mellow before things got more serious on day four again. Due to the level Moying Madness, Karko Killer and Kim-Broken-Oars provided some big water action. Serious fun for us kayakers, and luckily none of the rafts flipped. A swim might be devastating, but Rana and Sanjay did a very good job guiding the rafts. At the end of the 7th day we dropped back to Pasighat.

The day after we met Vaibhav with the group for the Subansiri, and some more kayaking friends. The drive up took two days as well, but the road is in a much better condition. Subansiri was quite different to the Brahamputra and for us the ideal chill-down. The first two days is some Class 4 action in boulder gardens, with days on the river being rather short. Day four delivers some fun class 3 action in small gorges, before the river enters the lower gorge. The next three days are completely secluded, exept for some local tribes (mainly fishermen and loggers).

The scenery is stunning, whith huge sandbanks offering accomodation for the night. Unfortunately no tiger footprints in the sand (they’re said to still be found there)… Most of the gorge is mainly flat, so enjoy the landscape. The second last day offers multiple read-and-run class 3 rapids and finally ended up with a flipping raft. As the boys all cried for female assistance, it was hard to decide who needed a helping hand (or grab loop) first – sorry if I hurt somebody’s feelings by setting wrong priorities ;-)

Too soon all the fun was over and we had to head back to work! Vaibhav: congrats for your team and it was tons of fun hanging around with you guys!

Pictures: Eva Appenzeller, Shredy Rieder, Regula Teuscher

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