Kayaking and Rafting in Meghalaya
Meghalaya’s fresh and rapid rivers provide a stage for rafting and kayaking enthusiasts. Rapids of all grades attract paddlers from all over the world during October and November. The immediate post-monsoon weeks are the best as the water is still powerful while the climate is relatively dry providing perfect conditions for those who want to test themselves. However, the activity is not restricted to these few months. There are also many perennial lakes and stretches of flat river beds that allow for basic paddling throughout the year.
Amateur paddlers and those seeking to experience it for the first time can enjoy kayaking and pack rafting facilities in destinations like Mawphanlur, Mawlyngbna, and Shnongpdeng. Shillong Whitewater Village is located in Bhoi district (23 kms from Shillong) and is a great place for beginners to learn and experience basic paddling. Located on the banks of the Umtrew River, Shillong Whitewater Village also boasts some challenging rapids. Apart from these places which offer onsite experiences, regular kayaking rental centres are not available in Meghalaya so expert paddlers who look to explore the famous rapids in the interiors bring their equipment.
The riverine areas of the state, the dramatically ever-changing topography, and the fact that this region receives the highest rainfall on the planet are the main factors to the wealth of paddling opportunities, including some of the most astounding whitewater stretches you will find anywhere.
Here are some of the major rivers for paddling in Meghalaya.
- Umtrew – Bhoi District
- Umngi – Khasi Hills
- Umrew – East Khasi Hills
- Umngot – Jaintia Hills
- Kynshi – West Khasi Hills
- Khri – West Khasi Hills
Kayaking and packrafting are activities that demand your complete attention, strength, and respect for the elements. It is the best way to experience the beauty of Meghalaya but it should always be done with the guidance of experts and with the appropriate expertise. Always acknowledge local knowledge as the inhabitants of the nearby villages know the behaviours of the rivers very well. Meghalaya is prone to drastic changes in weather at any time of the day and strong currents can suddenly multiply the force of a river stretch exponentially without warning. If you take heed of the precautions and best practices, this is the most memorable experience you will have in Meghalaya.
Recommended Literature – ‘Meghalaya Rivers’ (Penguin Publications) by Joe Rea-Dickins, Dan Rea-Dickins, and Zorba Laloo