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Rafting and kayaking on the River Indus

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While water levels are high, between the end of June and late August, Leh’s more entrepreneurial travel agents operate rafting trips on the River Indus. The routes are tame in comparison with Nepal’s, but floating downstream in a twelve-seater rubber inflatable is a hugely enjoyable way to experience the valley’s most rugged and beautiful landscape. Two different stretches of the river are used: from Spitok to the Indus–Zanskar confluence at Nimmu (3hr), and from Nimmu to the ancient temple complex at Alchi (2hr 30min). Experienced rafters may also want to try the more challenging route between Alchi and Khalsi, which takes in the kilometre-long series of rapids at Nurla. The annual multi-day expedition down the River Zanskar to the Indus is by far the most rewarding as it also includes the spectacular road approach to Padum.

Several adventure-tour operators in Leh offer whitewater rafting or kayaking on the Indus. Tickets should be booked at least a day in advance. Make sure when you book that the price includes transport to and from the river, rental of life jackets and helmets, and meals, and that there is a waterproof strongbox for valuables.

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