After a six-month hiatus, South India’s much sought-after white water river rafting has resumed at Dandeli in Uttara Kannada district, resulting in a steady increase in footfall.
The range of water sports on Kali river amid Western Ghats is a major attraction for visitors from across southern India. Business had come to a standstill, thanks to the strict lockdown. Now, with rafting and other sports allowed, people are slowly showing interest in visiting this tourist destination. It’s getting about 25% of the tourist numbers of pre-Covid days.
Although rafting recommenced two weeks ago, operators managed to hold the activity only thrice. Rafting depends on release of water from Supa Dam and for a long raft which is about 9-km stretch from Ganesh Gudi (starting point) to Moulangi, deeper water is needed. Currently, with less release of water, operators can manage only a short raft.
The long raft has 6-8 rapid points and the short has one major point. Rahul Bavaji, one of the operators, said business is picking up very slowly as Covid fear is still prevalent among people.
Rahul pointed that apart from other water sports like boating, zip-line, water roller and others, customers are keen on rafting. “However, with lack of coordination between operators and dam authorities on release of water, we’re unable to assure visitors of rafting in the tourist package. At least on weekends, water has to be released sufficiently and for that to happen, some Memorandum of Understanding has to be done. The assured water release would dramatically improve footfall,” he said.
He added that in two weeks, the dam released water thrice for half an hour or one hour which is not sufficient to conduct full-fledged rafting.
Chand Basha Kutti, another operator of Supa Adventurous Sports Association, said: “Release of water is a challenge and due to this ambiguity, many tourists cancel their plans. The tourist department has to work out a plan to improve business.”
Jagadish, owner of Squirrel Homestay, said, “The number of tourist enquires has increased and we’re seeing a rise in visitors. Now, short rafting can be done for about 0.5km with one rapid point.”