In whichever hotel in Nepal you are staying at during your Nepal visit, don’t forget to ask about how to go whitewater rafting. This is to ensure that you don’t miss out on the experience of a lifetime in this country full of adventure and discovery. What’s more, the season has just begun! Yes, October to mid December is a great time to go whitewater rafting, as is the period from early March to May.
Nepal has a surplus of mighty rivers originating from the majestic Himalayas and flowing down to the lowlands (Terai). This makes for an ideal situation for going whitewater rafting. Stretches of placid waters combined with stretches of swirling rapids, and huge boulders strewn all along the way—all these point towards excitement aplenty. As you read this, the question could have popped up in your mind: “and what about spills?’ Well, that’s all part of the thrill of whitewater rafting. However, you can put your mind to rest about this, since the many whitewater rafting operators here have decades of experience behind them, and they will strictly adhere to all safety measures. There are 10 river systems in different parts of the country that are open for whitewater rafting. Rapids on these rivers are graded on a scale of 1 to 6, with the first being the most tranquil and the last being the most ferocious. Obviously, you would probably prefer somewhere in between. One thing to be realized is that it’s best not to go it alone; other rafts alongside will be useful in case help is needed.
Rafting down the Trishuli River is perhaps most popular with tourists. It has rapids of 3 and 4 grades. Most rafting operators take you on a three-hour drive down from Kathmandu to put-in points like Fishling and Charaudi. From these points, you can raft for up to 60 kilometers, or shorter distances if you are short of time, such as a three-hour trip to Kurintar. The Trishuli experience can either be a one-day, or two- to three-day affair. Some operators prefer another route, one in which you are driven down to a bustling town called Besi Sahar (8 h), and from there to Khudi, the start of your rafting adventure. You raft down for some 38 km until you reach a quaint Newari town called Bimal Nagar. It’s a trip that won’t worry you much, since the waters are quite tranquil most of the way. Another popular site for Nepal whitewater rafting is the Bhotekosi River (grade 4), which is located close to the Tibet-Nepal border; about a three-hour drive from the capital.
Also close to Kathmandu is the Sun Kosi River. You first take a three-hour drive down to Dolalghat, and then take off on your raft. You’ll come across rapids of grade 4 and 5 along the way, with some stretches perfectly calm, while other stretches are pretty wild. You’ll also be maneuvering your raft through quite a few rock strewn passages. The rafting is a lot of fun, and since it’s a long ride of about 120 km, you get to experience many highs and lows, not only of the rapid grades, but we daresay, the limits of your courage, too! Like in the case of other higher-graded rivers, the Sun Kosi, too, is recommended for fairly advanced rafters.
The Kali Gandaki River in far-western Nepal is another great site to go whitewater rafting in. It has rapids of grades 4 and 5, and flows through the famous Kali Gandaki gorge, said to be the deepest in the world. You’ll notice some cremation sites and burial mounds at the junctions, and this, too, should add more flavor to the journey! Another far-west river, the Karnali, is Nepal’s longest river, and it has rapids of grades 5 and 6, which makes whitewater rafting down its length a most exciting adventure. The Karnali River has its origins in the Mount Kailash region. Another river that offers exhilaration galore is the Marshyangdi River (grade 5), with its steeper rapids that continue for long periods, which mean it is also an excellent river for kayaking.
The Seti, which slopes down from the Macchhapuchre Himal in the Annapurna region, is a much gentler river with only grade 2 and three rapids. Rafting down its length is a moving experience, what with the fantastic scenery all around, including splendid views of the Manaslu and Annapurna ranges. What’s more, this river has quite warm waters, so you can do a bit of whitewater rafting in cooler months as well. On the other hand, rafting on the Tamur River, which originates in the Kangchenjunga range, is for more proficient rafters, since it has grade 5 and 6 rapids. The distance is also a long one, almost 120 kilometers, and you’ll get plenty of non-stop excitement since there are almost 100 rapids to be traversed through!
Many whitewater rafting expeditions are usually combined with a bit of safari in the jungles or with some short trekking in the mountains, depending on where the river is situated. Whatever the river you choose in Nepal to go whitewater rafting in, you can rest assured that you will have one heck of a roller coaster ride down the swirling waters of the mighty Himalayan rivers!
|Name of River||Duration||Grade||Start Point||End Point|
|Trishuli||1 - 3 days||3+||Baireni Chauradi||Simaltar|
|Bhote Kosi||2 days||5+||Bahrabise||Dam|
|Karnali||10 days||5||Sauli||Bhen Bridge|
|Marshyangdi||5 days||5+||Ngadi||Bimal Nagar|