Rafting in Nepal's Rivers

Nepal has a reputation for being one of thhe best places in the world for rafting and kayaking, with outstanding river journeys ranging from steep, adrenaline-charged mountain streams to classic big-volume wilderness expeditions.

Nepal  is  a favorite  destination for rafting enthusiasts and experienced  river guides who travel the world looking for the best river to run.

From the fast flowing rivers tumbling down from the  mountains to the slow moving waters of the plains (Tarai), there  is adventure unlimited. As the course of the river takes one from the cold Himalayan region all the way down to the hot humid plains of the terai, a vast changing landscape unfold  before the beholder, unraveling the unmatched beauty of Nepal. Snow-cappe mountains, terraced hillsides,  lush  green valleys and delightful little villages form part of the landscape as the boat floats down through narrow gorges and  expansive  valleys.   A kingfisher swoops down to catch fish;  an eagle circle   high  above keeping a sharp eye on prey below; Gharial crocodiles lie still on the banks while monkeys comb the beaches for food. such sights are common on a trip down the river. There is much to exterience along the rivers of Nepal. People of many ethnic groups are  encountered along the  way, some of whom will gather in large groups to watch the rafts full of foreigners pass by their villages.

The rivers  of Nepal have  their  source in the high Himalaya where melting glaciers feed  the  ever flowing  waters. Snow-fed lakes give rise to yet other rivers and some have their origins in the Tibetan  plateau.  They flow  through forests, alpine meadows and the deepest gorges in the world to finally reach the plains from where they  go on to merge with the  Ganges  in India.

Rafting- A Team Sport/Safety Measures
One does not go rafting on his/her own but in a group along withh the river guide and team work is of utmost importance. The river guide's instructions must be taken seriously and each member of the group has an important part to play when paddling. Safety precautions are to be taken seriously such as wearing  a lifejacket and helmet. How the boat is maneuvered through the rapids  and how rocks are avoided, depends  on how  well  the team is coordinated  in its  actions. Paddling according to the  guide's instructions averts disasters as he alone knows  which way to go. Carelessness on the part of the team  members can cause the boat to overturn. However, the guide will give instructions before, hand on how to tackle such a mishap. Spillovers do happen and that's what life jackets and helmets are for.

A Typical Rafting Trip

A rafting trip generally begins  with a bus  ride  that takes clients  to the put in point (where the boat is put into the water). This is where the river trip really begins. The length of the drive depends on how far the put-in point is from where the journey began. On the  banks  of the river, the special rubber raft (boat) is pumped up full of air and all the equipment to be taken along are loaded. Each client  receives  a life-jacket, helmet and a paddle (not all trips use paddles) along with two  water-proof bags to put in their belongings. Water,proof bags and containers are also used  to keep camping equipment and food for the entire party.  These  are  tied  securely to the raft and opened only when  the camping site is reached.  On the other hand,   the  smaller  personal bags  are fastened to ropes  on the  side so that they  are  easily accessible  during the trip  as they may contain cameras,  lo• tions, binoculars, etc. which  come  in handy during the trip.

When the packing work is completed, the  river  guide  gives  safety  talk,  instructing the clients on what to do and what not to do while on the river. This is followed by instructions on how  to use the  paddle.  During the  trip,  the guide  will  shout,  "forward"  coaxing the  people  to push the  raft forward by paddling  furiously one way,  or it may be the  other way to go around a rock.  Similarly  the  boat may have  to be steered left or right with the help of paddles. The idea of having  the clients paddle  is to add to the fun rather than have them  merely as passengers. On other trips where there are elderly clients and  children, the  guide takes complete  control  of the raft by using large oars. Here  no paddles  are used and the guide is on his own maneuver, ing the boat through the rapids.

Once the instructions have been given, everyone climbs in and the trip begins. Along the  way, guides  inform  clients on the  flora and fauna of the region, pointing out any birds  and  plants encountered by  the  riverside.  Most rapids  have been given names,  so be, fore arriving at one, he also shouts out its name. Generally, between  12 noon and 1  pm,  a lunch stop is made  on a white sandy  beach.  Nepal  is blessed with white sandy beaches  which  are ideal for campsites. After an hour..long halt,  it is time  to move on.               .

Rapids are  what  make  a rafting  trip so  full  of thrills  and spills,  with exotic names  such as 'Frog in a Blender','Dazed  and  Confused', 'Dead  Man Eddy' to  name a  few.  The power  of the water pushes the boat up over the crest giving thrill seekers an adrenaline rush  that is quite unique. When the boat arrives  at a gentle section of the river, everyone can relax and enjoy the peaceful ride and give their  muscles a break.  Some   rivers  however,   can be quite demanding.

During the  river  run, depending on the clients' wishes, various stops are made so  they   can dive  down  into the river from  a high  rock  or simply take a swim  in  the  rapids. Rafting  is not just about plunging down a fast flowing river,  there is time  to explore the surroundings, interact with local inhabitants  and frolic  in  the water. Occasionally, beautiful waterfalls are encountered where one can stand under the  invigorating shower cascading down from above.    ·

The day's  trip  ends around 2pm when campsite  is  reached and  tents  are pitched. Guests often lend a hand in putting up the tents which is fun in it• self. Some even help with the preparation of the food adding their personal touches. It's a  form  of camping after all. Toilet tents are put up; one  for guests and  one  for the staff. The boys  start  cooking in  gas   fires  and soon tea  is  served  around  4pm.  After tea  or coffee,  it is  time  to  relax, chat  or stroll around

the  beach.  When twilight  comes  on the  river,  it  is  time for  the  last  meal of the  day.  Dinner is  served  under candle  light or gas light and  winters are  special  as  then   a campfire is lit bringing everyone  together to  enjoy the camaraderie. There is nothing like sitting around a campfire for dinner.

During the surnrner months, sleeping out in  the  open gazing at the stars  is an unforgettable experience. The best weather for this sort of adventure is in October when  there are no dew drops in the morning.

There are many great rivers for rafting in Nepal  and some trips also include a trek as a means to reach  the river put• in point. This greatly adds to the ad, venture as trekking is one of the  most popular tourism attractions. A trek allows a visitor to enjoy the enchanting beauty of Nepal's diverse landscape while  rafting is also a fun way to reach various destinations like the National Parks in Chitwan and Bardia. Tourists often take a rafting trip to reach Chitwan where they embark on a safari in the well-preserved Chitwan National park. Similarly, rafting down the Bheri and Karnali rivers in far west Nepal is an exciting means to reach the Bardia National Park.

River trips  can last  anywhere from  a day  to  ten days  depending on how much  time one wants to spend on the river and personal interests. Each river is classified on international standards according to how  difficult it is to ma-neuver. Class I is the  easiest and Class VI deemed too  difficult for rafting.

Things to take on a Rafting Trip

Most Essential
Sleeping Bag, inner lining for sleeping bag, mattress, towel and an extra set of clothing.

Other Things to Bring Along
  • Two pairs of polypropylene or polypromix athletic socks are recommended.
  • Cotton underwear: Lifht weight long sleeved shirt. Two  cotton T-shirts.
  • A fleece jacket  preferably  polypropeline.
  • A Gore-Tex  or similar  material rain jacket to keep warm and dry in all kinds of situation.
  • A Small Towel.
  • Toiletries:  Plenty  of moisturizing lotion.
  • Spare glasses or contact lenses if you wear them.
  • Flashlight or headlamps with spare batteries.
  • Water bottle
  • Toilet paper  - It's good to have one's own spare supply.
  • River Wear: High quality river sandals should  be  brought from  home.   All rafters should have footwear  that they can  wear  in  the raft, something that will not come  off,  if in the water.
  • Two pairs of good  quality river shorts, such as Guide Shorts.
  • Swimming costume  is  optional.  For women, a sarong can be purchased in Nepal to use as a wrap-around. A base ball style cap and good sunglasses with a string. Sunscreen (SPF  15 or greater and waterproof). Lip Balm.

For trekking: A daypack for the trek to the river put-in point. A medium volume day pack without a frame that won't take up too much space.
  • Good quality, lightweight hiking boots are most essential.

  • Camera.  Spare  batteries  is good to have.
  • Small binoculars  for  wildlife viewing  in the  national parks.  Avid bird watcher may bring the real thing along with a waterproof case.
  • Pocketknife
  • Reading and writing material.
  • Personal first aid kit.
  • For  safari  in  the parks: light weight, tightly woven pants and a long-sleeved shirt, as well as mosquito repellent.
  • For winter: waterproof trousers, (fleece jacket, and warm shoes to wear around the campsite).
Rivers of Nepal

The rivers of Nepal  are divided  into  three  categories·  Large, Medium and Small (streams and rivulets).

Large: The Koshi, Gandaki and  the Karnali  fall in this category and are located in the east,  central Nepal  and  the west respectively.

The  Tamur, Arun,  Dudh Koshi, Likhu, Tama  Koshi, Sun Koshi and Indravati rivers make up the  Koshi river system and are known as Sapta Koshi (sapta=seven; hence Sapta Koshi). The  Arun and Sun  Koshi originate  in Tibet and  the confluence  of the  Sapta Koshi lies in the  Sagarmatha Zone. The Sapta Koshi flows down through  many narrow gorges to  eventually reach the  vast open plains until it merges with the  Ganges in  India.

The Kali Gandaki,  Budi Gandaki, Marsyangdi, Trishuli, Seti, Madi and Daraundi  rivers together  form the Gandaki  river system. The longest river of Nepal,  Kali Gandaki originates  in Mustang and merges with the Trishuli; the main stream of the Gandaki river system is in Deoghat and hence,  the river is called Narayani.  This  confluence - an important pilgrimage site for Hindus. The  Narayani flows onto the southern plains and meets the Ganges.

Originating in Western nepal, the Humla karnali, Seti, Bheri, and Mugu Karnali rivers together form the Karnali river system which is the longest river system in nepal. The maiin tributary of this river system is humla Karnali that actually has uts origin in Tibet. These rivers flow down to India where they converge and become the Gogra.
The details about Rafting in different Rivers in Nepal is as follows:
Best Time for the Rafting in Nepal

The best time for rafting in Nepal are September to early June. October is one of the most popular times for rafting in Nepal due to warm water and long hot days. Between June and September, the monsoon floods most rivers making them too risky for rafting. During the months of september and early October and between may and June, the river is extremely high. During the winter, the days arre short and the water is cold, which calls for shorter trips each day. Two rivers that can be ususlly run even during the monsoon are Trishuli and Seti .


(Source: Nepal Tourism Board)