The Subansiri River or the “gold river” is the one of the biggest tributary of the mighty Brahmaputra River. It descends through verdant rainforests in the tribal state of Arunachal Pradesh, draining the waters beyond the Great Himalayan Range from Tsona Dzong up to the Great Bend of the Tsangpo in Tibet. It slices through the Eastern Himalayas to flow into India at Asaphila at the border, and then on through the rugged isolated hinterlands of Arunachal Pradesh before joining the mighty Brahmaputra at the mystic confluence of Majuli, the largest inhabited river island in the world.
The river valley has no road following it on either side for a long stretch. Very difficult terrain with vertical rock faces and only sparse habitation along its banks ensures the region remains isolated in its ancient pristine form. The river is challenging, high volume, fast-flowing, and adrenaline-pumping, while set midst in a truly scenic and breathtaking environment. Lower down, friendly hill people retain many of their unique traditions and customs that have developed over a millennium; a proud testimony to their rich and vibrant animist religion.
This river journey is an unique experience of exploring the hidden Himalayan valley of Subansiri. Traveling downriver, the valley will revel itself as a mysterious spirit of the mountain, crossing sparse settlements of ancient tribes and forests alive with the wild. You will camp nights gloriously by the fire in pristine patches of sandy riverbank, with starry skies revealing the universe. There will be plenty of fishing, large Himalayan species such as Golden Mahseer an ever-challenging but satisfying hook. The river has for long captured the imagination of early explorers. Such as Major Walker who explored the region during 1877 and wrote of the river’s massive nature “Still the difficulty remained of accounting for the large discharge of the Subansiri from so small a drainage area, and this difficulty is now removed, by the discovery of a large area below the great bend of the Sanpo around what may well be one of the two principal basins of the Subansiri and its affluents.” While another 19th century quote mentions on the ingenuity of the natives “The type of bridge found up in the Subansiri across the smaller tributaries was a flimsy bamboo structure resting on a trestle support.”
Day 1 | Dibrugarh
Upon arrival at Dibrugarh Airport, drive to town and check-in at the clubhouse with standard amenities. Dibrugarh is a pretty town located midst the large tea growing tracts of Upper Assam and beside the mighty Brahmaputra River. Afternoon can be spent by the riverside observing the lifestyle and landscape. Evening will be at leisure or walk around the upbeat market area of the town, maybe dine in a nice restaurant.
Day 2 | Dibrugarh - Basar
After a good breakfast, you will be driving till the remote settlement of Basar (7-9 hours), crossing at first lush plains before entering the green Himalayan mountains of Arunachal Pradesh. Evening at leisure. En route cross the mighty Brahaputra in a scenic ferry ride. Your stay will be in a basic guesthouse/hotel.
Day 3 | Basar - Dumporijo
With an early start, the day will be start with an exciting drive through the remote central hills of Arunachal Pradesh crossing lush forests and scattered tribal settlements, ending at the settlement of Dumporijo where you will meet the rafting crew. After an important safety briefing and assortments, the exciting river journey on the mysterious Subansiri will begin. Onwards to camp above the ‘Bend' rapid. Below this camp are grade 3 rapids with deep pools at the tail where there are good chances to finding the Golden Mahseer. From here we enter the deep silent gorge and by fishing off the steep stone cliff face on either side, our chances are very good for the Chocolate Mahseer. Evening at leisure by the campfire. A clear night sky can reveal the endless universe.
Day 4 | Dumporijo - Singun Camp
After breakfast we can fish around the river while the crew pack up camp. The river journey will today go through some moderate rapids and verdant mountains till we reach Singun Campsite. We can either stay at Singun or float a short distance downstream to the campsite at Kadung Kamang. Evening by the fire.
Day 5 | Singun Camp - Sibe Rite Camp
There is good fishing on the rapids below and above the campsite, especially in the early mornings and afternoons. Breaking camp by nine, the river journey will be entering the exciting grade 3+ rapids. Called the Kamala River Rapids, it a good and challenging mile long stretch. Further, there is excellent fishing in the waters all the way till the next campsite at Sibe-Rite, where we will halt for the night. Evening by the fire.
Day 6 | Sibe Rite Camp - Leopard Camp
The journey will continue downriver revealing more of the mysterious valley, through beautiful landscapes and with some fun 3+ rapids and 'feather rapids’ until we reach either Pool Camp or Leopard Camp which as the name suggests is adopted from the secretive animal that live in the rainforests here. Evening by the fire.
Day 7 | Leopard Camp - Demon's Head Camp
We eventually continue through a mix of slow and fast faced moderate rapids and eventually floating past the Sipla Confluence to Demon’s Head Campsite for overnight. Evening by the campfire.
Day 8 | Demon's Head Camp - Pasighat
We start after an early breakfast for the last leg of the river journey ending at our take out point at the Subansiri Dam sight. The three hours downriver will cross several 'feather' grade 2 rapids and okay fishing on the way. Vehicles will be awaiting us for the drive to Pasighat, a verdant multi-cultural tribal town where the mighty Siang River touches the plains, it's might evident in the landscape of the Assam plains. Evening at leisure. Your stay will be in fairly standard camps run by our guide's family.
Day 9 | Pasighat
Spend the day leisurely sightseeing in and around Pasighat. Visit museum or the local markets to learn more about lifestyle habits of the tribespeople. Visit nearby villages of tribes such as Adi and Mishmi who are the oldest inhabitants of the area and follow vibrant animist traditions. Evening at leisure.
Day 10 | Pasighat - Dibrugarh
After an early breakfast, drive to Dibrugarh Airport (4-5 hours) for your departure flight en route crossing the river in a ferry. Tour ends.
With a small town open atmosphere, The Gymkhana Clubhouse in Dibrugarh is run by enthusiastic town folks and provides splendid modern rooms and amenities such a pool and a gym. The clubhouse which was built in 1923 consists of a restaurant and a well stocked boutique barroom.
Donyi Hango Camps is run by the Dai family who have been early promoters of tourism in Arunachal Pradesh. The campsite is fairly standard with clean and spacious camps, and Mrs. Dai, a strong Adi lady of her own, is always happy to host travelers from around the world. The property is the best option to stay while in Pasighat.
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