I had been looking forward to rafting on the Kaligandaki for a long time. I had had a taster of Nepal river rafting on the Lower Bhote Koshi, but this was something else.
It is very special to snake your way through Nepal on a raft often being faced with some unfriendly looking rapids. The views you get from rafting are very different to those whilst trekking, the cliff faces seem so much closer and taller as they plunge down towards the water. Not only are the views different to trekking, but the exercise forces you to exert just as much energy, only using different muscles.
We were given a comprehensive safety briefing beforehand for our 8-man raft and practiced the various paddling commands. It was certainly very important to do so as two of the biggest rapids of the whole three days came soon after launching. Appropriately named little brother and big brother they immediately threw us (literally and metaphorically) into the spirit of rafting. I never felt in real danger due to the precaution of having two safety kayaks in case of a capsize or man overboard.
On the contrary to the adrenaline fuelled bashing of rapids, there were some sections to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings and observe some of the wildlife. There were countless eagles and we also saw Langur monkeys and some kind of large rodents too.
The camping was great too. The spots they chose for the campsites were very special and an enterprising local villager would come to sell beer which was very welcome. The nights would wind down by sitting around the campfire and staring at the incredible star-lit sky. The food was plentiful and very good considering it was all had to be rafted down with us too. All of the guides were terrific, friendly, helpful and most importantly up for having a laugh with you.
Overall I would say that the rafting on the Kaligandaki river was one of the highlights of my 3 months in Nepal. There are gentler rivers just as there are more extreme rivers. But for me there was more than enough excitement on the Kaligandaki.
One of the amazing things about Nepal is the variety of activities to do here. This was highlighted to me during a 2 day trip, the first day of which consisted of rafting and the second was hiking.
We rafted down the lower section of the Bhote Koshi river, a great section for a beginner who doesn’t want to face Class 4+ rapids as an introduction to the sport. So there were some fun rapids as well as some nice lazy sections to relax and bathe in the sun. There was great community spirit between everyone as you would expect when partaking in an activity which relies upon each member of the raft doing their own job.
The camping was a fun experience too; the camp had been set up and food was waiting and as the night got colder a fire was stoked up. But it was the next day which really revealed the gems of Nepal. It was perhaps a 3/4 hour hike up the side of the valley but the view got more and more spectacular at each rest stop. The best was to come, the second camp had a 270 degree view all around and in the far distance one could see the snowy peaks of the majestic Himalayas.
I think the short trip highlighted the variety of activities available: the fact that we were one day rafting down the Bhote Koshi, the next spotting the Himalayas far above the river of the previous day. It is times like these that you come to appreciate the diversity of Nepal.
I went on a three daylong river-kayaking trip through Paddle Nepal down the Seti River outside of Pokhara. Because the schedule of the standard four daylong beginners clinic did not work for us, my friend and I made our own custom trip through the company where we stayed at one campsite the whole time and then drove up and down the river each day depending on which length of the river we wanted to do. Although the company recommends doing one of the trips, we really enjoyed having the flexibility to choose our own schedule each day and adjust our itinerary depending on what we wanted to learn. We also had two guides for just the two of us, who were both wonderful and always making sure that we felt safe and were having fun. All the company members at the campsite were courteous and helpful. We enjoyed being the only two customers at the campsite. We learned how to roll our kayaks and other forms of rescue on the first day and for the second two days we went down the river. Luckily neither of us flipped, but we had a lot of fun racing down the rapids and talking with our guides during the scenic portions of the river.
For more information about kayaking and rafting in Nepal visit the iTrekNepal website