The India Kayak Road Trip – West to East

The India Kayak Road Trip – West to East

Shibu tended to respond to most of our questions with the same reply: ‘Okay okay okay’. The reply was no different when we asked if he could drive for over 10 hours from Calicut to Bangalore with six kayaks. With that, a five day race from Kerala to the northeastern states had begun.

We had paddled for over three weeks in Kerala and had taken part in what could be argued as one of the world’s greatest kayaking festivals; beautiful rivers, world class kayakers and of course, a free bar. But the time had come for our All-India journey to continue. This presented a change – our expedition vehicle was in Delhi and our next stop was Orissa. We decided to divide our team into two groups and race across the country by any means possible.

Group 1, Dom, Dan, Arjun and I, began our journey with a taxi ride to Kochi airport where we caught a flight to Delhi. There they met with Apoorva, founder and editor-in-chief of The Outdoor Journal. With a nervous expression, he handed over the keys to a brand new Ford Endeavour to three unwashed, sunburned British kayakers. After experiencing one or two nights of Delhi’s finest hospitality, we began a 1600km road trip to Koraput in Orissa. The journey offered us the opportunity to discover many different faces of India – deserts, vast sprawling cities, ancient monuments and of course, countless roadside dhabas and their toilets. Eating and sleeping on the road, we made the journey in a little
over two and a half days - a record which is there to be broken.

Group 2, Joe, Callum and Ayodhya, had the unique challenge of moving six 25 kg kayaks, laden with over 150kgs of equipment from one side of the country to the other. Leaving Shibu behind in Bangalore, they spent countless hours in railway booking offices experiencing what could only be described as a logistical nightmare. They had pre-booked tickets on an express
train heading East but unfortunately, the train had no luggage carriage. This meant that they had less than 24 hours to find a way to transport half a metric ton of equipment across one of the largest countries in the world. Experienced travellers and world class smooth talkers, they were more than up to the challenge; so much so that the boats miraculously arrived before they did.

Both groups arrived in Koraput within 24 hours of each other and would soon discover that the eastern states of India contain some of India’s greatest and most challenging whitewater. More regular updates here on The Outdoor Journal –so stay tuned! Check out the first two posts here: 1. Chasing The Monsoon 2. About the paddlers