Kerala: the perfect place to warm up

Kerala is a fantastic place to start a trip to India. It is beautiful, cheap and logistically straightforward. There are some fantastic rivers, and some still waiting to be explored. The Malabar River Festival is the highlight of Kerala’s whitewater calendar; it’s an amazingly social event that caters for all skill levels. It is also a great place to meet fellow paddlers if you are travelling solo. This year the Malabar River Festival is between the 20th – 23rd July.

Do some exploring

There are still heaps of un-paddled rivers in India. Most of the rivers outside of the Himalayan region remain unknown to kayakers with the exception of a few areas. Even in classic destinations like Uttarakhand, Kerala and Meghalaya there are still lots of potential classics waiting to be paddled. For the more adventurous paddlers, states like Odisha, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra are worth looking into.

Tick off the classics

If you’re after good, reliable, high quality whitewater then I recommend spending a few weeks in Kerala, then travelling up to Ladakh for some classic big water paddling. Fortunately, India has a great domestic travel network. If you’re time rich but cash poor, spend a week overlanding the 2,000 or so kilometres from the south to the north, an unforgettable trip for sure. If you want to cram in as much kayaking as possible then simply hop on a plane to Leh. In Ladakh, be sure to paddle the Tasrap Chu into the Zanskar, the Indus and the Shyok, all unforgettable whitewater trips.

Fast facts

  • Kayak friendly airlines into India: Turkish and Jet. For domestic flights Indigo and Jet are good.
  • Wear earplugs if you’re paddling warm rain fed rivers to keep nasty ear infections away.
  • If you’re heading out early then check out the first ever Kali River Festival in Karnataka, between the 2nd and 4th June. This event is organised by the same guys that put on the Malabar River Festival, so it is guaranteed to be an awesome weekend of racing and general fun in the jungle.