One of our friends recently told us, “When I think about my pocketbook, I choose another river company. But when I think about my life, I choose you.”
We took her honesty as a big compliment. It also helped us realize that there are times when we all choose actions based on our financial situation rather than our safety...and even our own lives.
We hear it all the time: “Why should I pay Rs 2400 for a day trip with you, when I can get the same trip for Rs 350?” Here’s our side of the story:
First and foremost, it’s not the same trip, and the old adage, “You get what you pay for,” rings true. You think those hand-sewn life-jackets, poorly-trained raft guides and rule-bending ways are the same as our trips? Forget it. Let’s break these down one by one:
Top-notch equipment is critical, especially when you’re in a sticky river situation. Sure, those locally-made life-jackets will be fine (if properly worn) most of the time. However, if you’re in a situation in which you’re depending on that life-jacket for your life, wouldn’t you rather have a Type V (US Coast Guard approved) life jacket on your back? That’s what we provide, and those cost money. The same goes for our helmets, paddles, wetsuits, tents, and all of our other gear.
Regarding raft guides - we commend all the river rats out there who take people down the river. We’re not as impressed, however, with the level of training these young men often receive. Every day we see guides without the proper gear, such as not wearing helmets (what happens to your boat if your guide gets a head injury?), or wearing flip-flops instead of proper river shoes. We see guides unable to assist in a First Aid situation (we even heard a story once of a client with a broken leg, and the guide ran off the scene). And we constantly witness an utter disregard for the environment, including throwing trash in the river or at the put in.
Our guides not only have proper river and First Aid training, but have spent decades on the river, giving them the outdoor experience to respond to any situation. As for trash, they will be the first ones to speak up if they notice anyone on our trip littering.
And then there’s the rule-bending. Children younger than 14 are not legally allowed to go rafting. So if there’s a kid in your boat, what other rules are that company willing to bend?
Finally, we believe in paying for the service and the experience that you get. We know a lot of you have been lured in by cheap companies promising big adventures. But think about it for a moment. Would you visit a cheap doctor? These are people whose skills you trust your life with, and in fact, a river guide isn’t that much different. It’s a beautiful thing to be outside, it’s even more beautiful have the skills yourself to manage the risks of the outdoors. If that’s not you, then the next best option is to be in trusted hands with people who have the experience and skills to navigate those risks.
At the end of the day, our guides are trying to earn a living just like everyone else and their skills should not just be recognized but appreciated for their value. And that’s what you say with your rupee: “I appreciate your skills and your commitment to my best possible experience. Now let’s go rafting!”