Five professional river guides were part of India’s first combined river rescue course and assessment in Rishikesh. The course was conducted by Rescue India and certified by Rescue 3 International and International Rafting Federation (IRF). The Outdoor Journal gives a comprehensive report in this two-part series.

The rafting industry is a 30 year old industry in India, and whitewater rafting on the Ganges in Rishikesh in north India is one of the most sought-after adventure activities for the average city-dweller. It is believed that there are more than 400 rafting companies operating in the city out of which only 140 have the required licenses. These companies cater to more than 50,000 tourists a year generating a revenue of about 20 crore every season. Controversies apart, there are no formal schools for whitewater rafting or kayaking in India. Companies train their staff and guides according to their convenience and business requirements. The number of river guides operating on the Ganges in Rishikesh is unknown because there is no mandatory certification required to become a river guide. From 11 to 16 July, Rescue India, ‘India’s first water and rope rescue training company’ conducted a five-day river rescue course in Rishikesh, under the guidance of ace kayaker and rescue trainer Bhupendra Singh Rana.

Bhupendra is the only river guide in India to hold a certification from Rescue 3 International, one of the oldest international search and rescue companies and IRF (International Rafting Federation), a global federation for rafting enthusiasts and guides.

The five-day course was divided into three days of river rescue training certified by Rescue 3 international and two days of river guide assessment under the guidelines of IRF. It was the first time two international bodies joined hands to train five professional river guides in India. The Outdoor Journal team covered this unique rescue river course for professional river guides and boaters. A comprehensive report follows. The objective of the course was to impart the trainees with the skills to prepare for a rescue situation and counter it efficiently in the given frame of time. The main aim was to develop skills and tools using the available resources to their best judgement.

The basic requirement of the course was a minimum of 3-5 years of experience on the river and a valid First Aid certificate. The location selected for the course was ‘Phoolchatti Creek ‘ by the Ganges, challenging enough for the professional boaters. The five professional river guides were a mix of experience, talent and skill. Navraj Magar and Arvind Bhardwaj were the most experienced of the lot, rafting on Indian rivers from Arunachal to Leh for almost 29 and 22 years respectively. The other three, Sahdev, Rakesh and Mahaveer looked like Billabong sponsored athletes but what they lacked in experience, they made up with their skill , dexterity and perseverance. Click the links below for more details and video's.