Rafting in the River Sun Koshi (Lower)

Rafting in the River Sun Koshi (Lower)

Sun Koshi, the "River of Gold" originates near Shisha Pangma, an eight thousander in Tibet and cuts through the mahabharat range and flows through beautiful valleys on its way to the Ganges in india. It is rated as one if the ten best high water river expeditions. Known for its massive bouncy waves, on Sun Koshi's rolling mounds of water, even large boats seem to disappear. Along the river are beautiful white sandy beaches for camping and further down, thick vegetations has ensured a rich wildlife presence consisting of monkeys, leopards and a large number of birds. Gharial crocodiles too thrive on this river.

Sun Koshi is one of the popular rafting rivers and also offers one of the longest trips in Nepal. The river flows 270 km through one of Nepal's remotest area. So, leaving civilization behind, rafters then have to rely on their own supplies. After a three-hour drive from Kathmandu, the put-in point at Dolalghat is reached. The gushing waters of Sun Koshi tumble down from  the distant mountains and give rise to rapids with exotic names such as Punch and Judy. High Anxiety, Rhino Rock and Dead Man Eddy.

The small Class II and Class III rapids which  are  first  encountered  prepare the  rafters  for  the  bigger  challenges that lie ahead. From the third day, the river gets rougher  and the adrenaline pumping rapids more frequent. Soon after the monsoon, the waters are high and turbulent, making the Sun Koshi the  most exhilarating trip  of all. Yet there are calm stretches that allow time for  admiring  the  stunning  scenery. About four  hundred species  of birds reside along this river such as redstarts, dippers,  flycatchers,  bulbul,  fork  tail to name a few, and  two hundred and fifty different species of orchids  have been recorded here.

The Sun Koshi Experience
Day 1- Dolalghat
After  a three-hour  drive  from  Kathmandu,   Dolalghat is reached,  which is the   put-in point on the Sun Koshi River.  After  the  usual briefing  and preparations, the  trip  is on. The  river looks deceitfully peaceful and lazy and soon  local  villagers  are  encountered. Lunch  stop is at a lovely sandy beach. One  of the  rapids encountered along the way on the first day is Kooyeh Bhir. There are villages and temples on the way until campsite  is reached a few kilometers above rapid Meat Grinder, While  some opt to help  the  crew to pitch up tents, others can spend time exploring the surroundings.

Day 2 - Khalte Chayenpur 
The  second day begins more  promisingly as two hours  down the river lies the first Class III rapid, Meat  Grinder. The path to choose is straight through the  middle  avoiding  holes  on either side. A few kilometers down  and  the confluence of the  Tama   Koshi or "River of Copper"  and  Sun  Koshi  is encountered. After a lunch stop, there is ample time to explore the landscape and see different  ethnic  groups  along the  river. The  second  camp  is set up above the  rapid  Punch and Judy. The day ends with  a dinner by campfire.

Day 3 - Likhu Khola 
The  valley here  is always  changing in terms  of its width. At  Bat Cave,  the crew takes the rapid seriously. The size of the rapids on this river can surprise you. It is time  to stop  and  scout and eventually decide on the most exciting route through. Here people of the ethnic group called Newars always wait to see the  adventurers pass by. Floating down  after lunch,  the  water  splashes across the boat but the waves are no threat. later, a nice stretch of sandy beach is chosen for the campsite. The monsoon floods deposit large amounts ofwhite sand which seem ideally made for camping.    

Day 4 - Harkapur

On day four, the surroundings change noticeably as the canyon gets narrower and the vegetation gets thicker. A number of small to medium sized rapids are encountered.  A few kilometers below the confluence  of the  Likhu  Khola  a long Class N rapid named  Likhu Rapid is encountered. Soon after lunch the ride takes one across  interesting rock formations on  the  walls.   The  white water gets more  exciting and  the  day ends at a campsite near a small village called  Harkapur.  For a change it is possible to visit a local  tea shop and even shop for wares.

Day 3 - Rasuwa Ghat

On day five there is mounting excitement  as the  biggest  rapid is  to  be encountered.  Everyone  is  looking forward to it. There are early signs as the river picks up speed. The rapid Harkapur II deserves some respect. After careful scouting , the team faces the challenge and the boat goes through. An hour and a half  float downstream, the confluence of the Sun Koshi and Dudh Koshi rivers is encountered. Going further downstream, the river valley broadens to almost 2 kilometers across. In the afternoon run, a number of small rapids are crossed on the way. The next stop is near Rasuwa Khola.                                          

Day 6 - Jungle Corridor

This day is full of thrills  as there are many rapids to face today. Beginning with small  rapids,  they get  progressively bigger and longer.  One of these is Jaws, a challenge with a huge hole at certain  levels.  Even the smaller ones are fun and the  afternoon is full of them until Rhino Rock, a Class III rapid is encountered. This  lies just above the next bridge and heralds thebeginning of the "Jungle Corridor". It is then time to halt for the night and set up camp.

Day 7 - Big Dipper

The  gorge forces the water to flow through a  narrow opening which is thickly forested.  Along the way are a succession  of rapids such as Cooper Chin and Black  Hole, etc. Today there is  an  opportunity  to shower under some waterfalls,  an invigorating experience.  As the  gorge is maneuvered, rapidly changing scenery unfolds. Camp for the night is set up near a waterfall that drops down from a height of four hundred feet. This site is a few kilometers from the last major rapid, the Big Dipper.

Day 8 -Tribeni Dovan
On Day 8, everyone is looking forward to the Big Dipper. This rapid is a series of standing waves with holes  that can create quite a bit of trouble. This must be  inspected  carefully and the right strategy  adopted  to tackle it.  Soon the waters ease out and the afternoon float is  enjoyable. There are many
spectacles today; watching cremations, logging of bamboos or people being ferried across in dugouts. This region has a strong presence of the Rais and Limbus who are collectively-known as Kirants, descendants of ancient rulers of Kathmandu valley. The  confluence of the three main rivers  of eastern Nepal:  Arun, Tamur and  Sun Koshi is a good camping spot. The river then becomes part of the Sapta Koshi (the Seven Koshis).

Day 9 - Chatara
The  last  day on the  river  starts with a visit to  the  popular Hindu temple at Barah  Chhetra below Tribenighat, which is the meeting place of the three rivers. Full moon here in January brings thousands of Hindus who come to worship at the temple. The pilgrims arrive to celebrate Lord Vishnu's vie, tory over  a legendary Demon. After lunch on the beach, the fabulous Sun Koshi  river trip  ends  at Chatara and the drive back begins with fond memories  of the nine-day  journey  through gorges and challenging rapids.