White water rafting gives a boost to Goa`s adventure tourism

PTI| Last Updated: Aug 18, 2014, 12:05 PM IST

Valpoi, Goa: The white waters of Mandovi river in Goa`s North Eastern terrain have emerged as an alternate ground for tourism, attracting those looking for adventure.

The three-season-old white water rafting adventure introduced by state-run Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) in association with British adventure sports expert John Pollard has been receiving increasing tourist footfalls in the state`s Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary.

New Yorkshire-born Pollard, who was the first one to introduce white water rafting in South of Himalayas, feels that people are now getting more interested in adventure tourism and this market is mostly riding on its popularity among domestic markets.

"People are getting more interested in adventure tourism. Indian market is something that you can develop compared to the foreign. You don`t have to be dependent on border notification," he told PTI.

The facility in Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, eight kms away from Valpoi town, was started in 2011 by Pollard after his successful stint in the wilds of Dandeli (Karnataka) and Kollad (Maharashtra).

The adventurist who started his company, Southern River Adventure and Sports Private Limited, along with his Goa-born wife Sylvia Kerkar, feels that it was a bit tough initially to try out this facility on the Mhadei river.

"The road access to the start point was a bit difficult, so also was to get the nod for the project by the state government. There were apprehensions that some foreigner with a multinational company is coming here to make money but that was not the case," says Pollard.

On a long Independence Day weekend, Pollard says they were busy days as several tourists turned up to enjoy rafting.

"But it is not the same every day," he said, adding "two and half month season is what we are hoping but it may be less if it rains less. It is a very difficult business to make commercially viable."

The rafting takes place when rains are at its best in the Western ghats, and for rest of the months, the rafts are on the banks.

The ten-kilometre stretch covered in the raft traverses through Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary with sightings of Indian Bison (Goa`s state animal) and Wild Guar, often.

"Since there is lot of water in forest during the rainy season, the wild animals don?t venture near the river bank," said Pollard, who has been receiving a lot of youngsters and family tourists for the venture.

The young crowd at the sanctuary is usually from places like Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad.

Pollard says that there are one or two other stretches in Goa where the venture is possible, but it is like similar time scale of two months that you can do rafting.

"May be in South Goa there are one or two places but I find this as a better stretch because it has got larger volume of water and even if there is less rainfall it keeps going a bit longer," he said.