Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Staying Safe While Enjoying the Ganga

As highlighted in the previous post, the rafting guides of Himalayan River Runners (HRR) are truly white-water heroes. They are a vital part of HRR’s commitment to keeping our guests safe as they enjoy the many moods of the Ganges River. 

HRR has always insisted on maintaining solid guide experience and inculcating a culture of safety as the foundation of its business of river running throughout India. We recognise that any sport, especially one related to the outdoors and nature, has an element of risk involved.  Otherwise it would merely be a theme park experience and not a real adventure. 

Our aim is to provide an environment where young people (and adults) can test their limits under the watchful eye of an experienced guide. We believe that this provides valuable opportunities for personal growth and also re-connects people to the realities of nature, all too easily forgotten in an urban environment.

It is hard to beat the kind of exhilaration generated by successfully overcoming our fears and meeting physical and mental challenges. Teachers and corporate human resources departments agree that outdoor adventures, responsibly organised, boost self esteem and team spirit among individuals. Special kinds of friendships develop after a challenge shared with others.

But, of course, risk must be minimised and we do this in the knowledge that it cannot be entirely eliminated. To that end, we have re-trained and re-certified all our guides in CPR and First Aid. 

How government can help increase rafting safety

Yousuf Zaheer, Founder and Manager of HRR, says that the 140 rafting operators on the Ganga are now working more closely together on safety issues than previously, and that HRR is active in assisting promoting training initiatives for new guides. His timely suggestion that new guides be tested and assessed by the experienced guides has been approved by the rafting operators’ association.

Yousuf also points out that government outreach is needed to ensure stability for all the operators. At present, only 20 to 30 permits are given per season. These permits have to be renewed annually and the operators are not always confident of receiving the permit. With that concern in mind, they find it difficult to invest in training for their guides. Another complication is that if overseas clients want to book an expedition more than a year in advance, the operators cannot legally accept that booking. This means that operators lose money on bookings – money which could be used to better train their guides and increase safety.

With the 2012-2013 season coming to a close on the Ganga, the operators hope the next year will see more cooperation between the government and the industry. In the end, this will be good for everyone – rafting operators, guests and the state of Uttarakhand, which will benefit from increased tourism and more jobs for the local workforce.

Tags: Himalayan River Runners, HRR, whitewater rafting, rafting operators, rafting guide, rafting guides, rafting safety, Ganges River, Uttarakhand tourism, Ganga

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