Considering the fierce whitewater that thrashes down the Kullu Valley during the spring melt, Manali’s rafting scene is surprisingly low-key. Raft trips down the River Beas are offered between the end of May and early July, when water levels are highest, beginning at Piridi (above Bhuntur) around 15km downstream at Jhiri. The price should include food, lifejackets, helmets and return travel; check exactly what you’re paying for, as some unscrupulous operators expect you to make your own way back after the trip.
Skiing in the Solang Valley is popular from January to April – but the slope isn’t much bigger than a cricket pitch and there is no proper ski centre. A new ski centre in conjunction with the Finnish government is still in the pipeline for the Rohtang Pass. The valley is also a popular spot for paragliding. Rock climbing, zorbing and especially canyoning are also gaining in popularity. For a less strenuous burst of expensive adrenaline and stunning views, helicopter rides of between five and thirty minutes can be arranged.
One of the best ways to explore Kullu is by mountain biking, which is possible from mid-June to mid-October. Popular routes include the descent from Rohtang, the forest trail to the Bijli Mahadev Temple and the back road to Naggar.
Numerous agents offer jeep safaris and other guided tours to remote areas such as Lahaul, Spiti and Ladakh – prices vary wildly, as does what is included, so always shop around. Most of these operations also run treks on the most popular local routes and further afield.
Himalayan Adventurers Opposite the tourist office, Manali. Rup Negi and his experienced team offer the full range of activities from trekking, mountain biking and skiing to jeep and motorbike tours. There’s even birdwatching.
Himalayan Journeys The Mall, Manali. The principal agent for thrilling helicopter rides above the mountains.
Magic Mountain Jagatsukh, 6km south of Manali. Owner Raju Sharma specializes in mountain biking and leads tours himself. He can also arrange trekking, skiing and jeep safaris.
Tiger Eye Adventure Old Manali. Very efficient Dutch-run agency, which runs reliable trekking, bicycle, motorbike and jeep tours.