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Wari Chora: Canyoneering in Meghalaya

While it remains obscure, regular social media users who keep track of North East India have probably heard of Wari Chora already because a few video clips from the area has gone viral in recent times. Nevertheless, details were scarce and so, it was one of our main targets for the Garo Hills Expedition.

So, we left Balpakram early morning but it was a long way from there to Emangre Village, where we were supposed to stay. We were communicating with the homestay regularly and we were told about the feast of local food and wine was ready for us but our trip seemed never-ending.

Finally, we reached the place when it was almost dark, and settled down at the Homestay. The feast and the bonfire was worth it, as were the pineapple growing in the backyard of the homestay.

The Beginning That Wasn’t

Now, here’s the thing with Wari Chora. Everyone had seen that one video of some people boating through the canyon for a few seconds. None of us exactly knew anything more than that and to be honest, we thought we’ll just drive to the riverbank and start rafting!

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Momentary halt at Dabalgre

The locals of course knew it but I think something got lost in translation and we didn’t get the clear picture till we actually got there. Anyway, we had a good breakfast, even stopped at a local weekly market, and then reached the village Dabalgre after a short diversion. The last stretch was really bumpy but eventually, we reached a house that also works as a Homestay although we were already staying in Emangre.

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Closer view of Renang Dare

Anyway, we took a break here with tea and pineapples and some local roots that tasted odd. It was an exquisite location because the waterfall of Renang Dare can be seen from here at a distance. We also wanted to get to that waterfall later but couldn’t really manage time.

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The trek starts finally…

Anyway, we were already late and we drove a bit more too reach another house in the village where the car finally stopped as it couldn’t go beyond it. We got a pomelo from a tree, slaughtered it, and devoured it.

Now, there was still no sign of the river, so was beginning to wonder what’s happening. We also seemed to be pretty higher up to be near a river. That’s when we finally realised that there’s a trek to be done here… And as we moved on, we realised that it’s not a quick one either.

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Into the jungle

Basically, we had to descend to the river. As it happens in Meghalaya in most cases, it was trekking in reverse order. Instead of going up, we had to go down first to reach the river, do our rafting activity, and then hike up later (which was going to be more difficult)… Just like it happened in Nongriat although that one at least had well-marked trails.

Anyway, we continued, initially through local farmland and an areca plantation and then, after crossing a small stream, we entered dense forests. I must point out here that you always need local guides here as there is a probability of getting lost because the trail is not clear after entering the jungle and many smaller routes can be seen at various points.

Wari Chora…. Finally!

Anyway, after almost two hours, I finally took another town plunging deeper into the gorge (by that time I had started to hear the sound of the roaring river). I had to crouch and crawl through the narrow crack between boulders and everything was extremely slippery at this point but anyway, the river was finally in front of me!

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Couple of our guides had already reached there and preparing the rafts. Rest of our people were still behind, so I got some time to rest. One one side, I could see jungles till the horizon while on the other hand, the river seemed to be flowing into the heart of darkness like a Conradian dream.

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Into the heart of darkness

Eventually everyone arrived and the rafts were ready too. We basically had two rafts and a smaller one for the guides to use. As it turned out, we were also short to life jackets and I eventually ended up without one but the water was not very deep and we moved on. We were basically boating through the canyon with mossy stonewalls on both sides. Within a few seconds of starting the boating, one waterfall became visible to us. It’s probably a small stream that simply plunges into the gorge and meets the river.

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Small but powerful river
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So it begins
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There it is!

As it turned out, that was the midpoint of our short activity. The water is shallow here and there are lot of big stones. So, we could get down and pull the raft to the other side with us and everyone decided to go under the waterfall.We spent more than an hour at this point as one of our guides went back to aslo get the shoes and additional bags that we’d left on the bank as we were not going back to the same point.

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The primary attraction
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One can’t get enough

Eventually even everyone was done enjoying the waterfall and swimming, we got on the raft again. We saw yet another waterfall through a narrow crevice through the stones but going nearer was impossible. We reached a point where the trip ander and from where there was another trail to go up.

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The escape
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Note those colours
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Finally reached the end point
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Rafts about to be deflated and packed

Actually, as tourists we just covered a small portion. Also, we were told that the view is better in the first half of the day when the rays of the sun falls on the canyon. We could have tried to reach earlier if we’d been ignored the same thing earlier! So, I think these small pieces of information could have improved the experience although it is understandable as this area has just started receiving tourists and there’s also a language barrier.

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Returning from Wari Chora

It was around 3.30 when we finished. However, the hike towards was remaining and it was already getting dark. As it turned out, it got completely dark even before we reached the village and it took around 1 hr 45 mins for the forward party including me while a few others took almost 2.5 hrs. The car then drive us back through the bumpy road through the pitch dark night but another feast was waiting for us at the homestay so it was fine.

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Pineapple growing at the homestay

Wari Chora Video

Here is the video footage for Wari Chora that’ll give an immersive view of the place.

Wari Chora Travel Guide

What exactly is Wari Chora?

Wari Chora roughly means something like deep river near a high place. It’s basically a small canyon, a small hilly river with high hills on both sides. It’s located in the South Garo Hills of Meghalaya.

How to reach Wari Chora?

The road to Wari Chora doesn’t even show up on Google Maps. So, you’ll need some local help. The nearest village is Dabalgre while another major village is Emangre.

The route is a diversion from the main village road a few KMs ahead of Emnagre. Do note that you have to take a left turn just before a bridge.

Where to Stay for Wari Chora?

There’s one homestay in Dabalgre and one in Emangre. Facilities are limited but it’s that kind of a place.

How much time does it take to Trek to Wari Chora?

It takes around 1.5-2 hrs from Dabalgre to the riverbank which is practically inside the jungle.

How long is the rafting route?

Actually, we did a very small portion of it, which is enough for most tourists. Some hardcore people try long-distance rafting and canoeing. It is a river that eventually takes you to the Aginma Wari fish sanctuary near Emangre.

How difficult is it?

It’s not difficult but trekking through not properly marked trail takes some effort if you have never done such things before.

Do we need local guides?

Of course. It has to be done with local guides only. Summiters contacted and arranged things for us.

What’s the best season for Wari Chora?

Naturally the rainy season will be very difficult and dangerous for traversing the river. This activity is usually done in the dry season between November to March.

Jitaditya Narzary

1 thought on “Wari Chora: Canyoneering in Meghalaya”

  1. I am joining the last trip of Wari Chora for this year (Two weeks from now). Since I am going solo, I had plenty of questions reeling in my mind. You have answered it all. Thanks for this elaborate post. I am not good at trekking and I can gather that the trek through the jungle is going to be a tough one. Still so thrilled to sign up for this adventure. Thanks top this post i now know what to expect

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