'I believe any trip in search of wildlife can be coupled with physical activity and elements of cultural diversity to form a thrilling opportunity'
John H.Eickert

“The Cow’s Mouth” or Gaumukh is the name of the ice cave on the Gangotri Glacier at nearly 13,000 feet in the Garhwal Himal of north central India from which pours forth the holiest river in all of India. The Ganga or Ganges as it has been called since the time of the British Raj descends from high mountain peaks through India’s most important farming area, the Gangetic plains, to empty into the Indian Ocean at the Meghna estuary.

This great river takes its name from the Hindu Goddess, Ganga. From its source, the river drops, gathers five other rivers, and meanders 1560 miles until it empties into the ocean. The initial portion of the Ganga is locally known as the Bhagirathi. The Bhagirathi has a drop of 10,000 feet in 120 miles until its confluence with the Alaknanda just below the town of Deoprayag, the Alaknanda rises from snow and ice below the holy mountain, Nanda Devi. While almost all of the Bhagirathi has been successfully run, most of the commercial rafting takes place between Tehri and Rishikesh. Here the Bhagirathi tumbles through two gorges and over one waterfall, when coupled with trekking in the Garhwal and visits to Rajali N.P. and Corbett N.P. creates an incredibly diverse and memorable adventure.

The Bhagirathi can be sampled in a quick afternoon of rafting, several days of rafting or the entire stretch from Tehri to Rishikesh can be rafted in a self-contained weeklong trip. During this week of river adventure, the rafter should see rhesus monkeys, spotted and barking deer and “spot” a leopard. The later is a wonderful local joke and can always bring about laughter. When you ask if you will indeed “spot” a leopard don’t be surprised at the gleeful reply, “yes, the leopard is always ‘spotted!” Overhead, bearded vultures are commonly seen, the walls of the gorges are steep and the river is swift, not conducive to plentiful wildlife viewing opportunities. The good news is two exceptional national parks, the Rajali and Corbett, flank the Bhagirathi. Here are present all the forest birds and mammals indigenous to India with Rajali being important for its elephant population and Corbett for its big cats, the tiger and leopard. The river ride rips down continuous fourth-class rapids with interesting names including Roller Coaster, Golf Course, and Daniel’s Dip. Make sure when choosing an outfitter all rafts are accompanied by a safety kayak. The Bhagirathi is easily accessed from Delhi and tours can be arranged there. Uttar Pradesh means ‘northern province’ with Delhi its heart and soul. A reminder, no journey through this province for rafting and wildlife viewing could be called complete without a visit to Agra and the Taj Mahal. There is an amazing amount to see and do. Take your time and take the time! Enjoy.

Contributed by   John H.Eickert

Num Bum Adventures or call  406-777-2228.

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