Nepal River Rafting

Nepal River Rafting

Welcome to the Himalayan country of Nepal, the incredible staircase to the top of the world. Sandwiched between the vast Tibetan Himalayas to the north, India to the south, the Indian Himalayas to east and west, Nepal is packed with romantic Boudhanathlandscapes, fascinating history, rich art and architecture, abundant wildlife, adventure and picturesque views of Mount Everest and the Himalayas. This is the land where Lord Buddha, the greatest apostle of world peace was born (Lumbini), the only place in the world where Hinduism and Buddhism co-exists, a country where ancient and modern culture meet. If you are keen for an exotic experience you'll find it here.

Nepal is a river runner’s paradise no other country has such a choice of multi-day trips away from roads, in such magnificent mountain surroundings, with warm rivers, a semi-tropical climate, impressive geography, exotic cultures, wildlife and friendly welcoming people.

But it’s not just the rivers –as anyone who has been there will tell you, Nepal has a magnificent holiday in its own rite – a fairy tale land of temples, mountain, dramatic festival, exotic culture, colorful people! Medieval villages, superb craft shopping, grate food and sights - the bonus are some of the world’s best rivers like Sunkoshi and Karnali!

Forget the images of hard ‘expedition’ boating – yes, there are a few rivers like this - but Nepal is just an outstanding holiday destination for the average recreational kayaker or river runners. Most of the rivers in Nepal are class 2 to 4. Everyone we know has enjoyed his/her holiday in these Himalayan Rivers. Neither you have to be an experienced river runner nor expert kayakers, you can enjoy the Nepalese river as you are. You don't need to bring any of your equipments with you but the most important thing that you have to bring is your adventurous state of mind. Values, especially time values, are different during your adventure trips and you do need to be more flexible and tolerant to enjoy your time here and avoid undue stress.

Rafting in Nepal

Rafting in Nepal is usually a ‘wilderness’ experience in that most rivers don’t have highway alongside them –but it’s a soft, tamed, wilderness with white beaches for camping, clean blue rivers, friendly locals. Incredibly inexpensive, Nepal is a peaceful democratic country where rafters and kayakers get a warm welcome as one of the best forms of ecotourism. We have many kinds of rafting trips from short to long and the important thing is to choose the right trips for you. Nepal has some of the best, most scenic and most varied whitewater on earth. The shorter trips are hugely accessible, even to beginners, while a few of the longer trips are world classics, offering the experience of a lifetime. As well as the tranquillity of being deep in the countryside, away from towns and roads, rafting offers the thrills, laughter and companionship that comes from shooting rapids. 

Note that it is not necessary to be able to swim, but swimmers are probably more relaxed, comfortable, and safer in this alien watery environment.

Why to go for rafting?

  • The rivers of Nepal take you away from the busy trekking routes and penetrate the heart of rural, road-less, un-spoilt Nepal.
  • Rafting offers an attractive alternative to trekking, something to note if you don’t enjoy walking. It also complements trekking, in that you see the country from a different viewpoint like locality, custom and culture with the traditional way of life style.
  • Rafting ‘leaves no footprints’, has minimal ecological effect, and if you wish, the exhilaration of running white water.
  • There can be few better ways of viewing wildlife, then from a boat.

White water or flat water?

Rafting has this image of crashing through horrendous rapids and monstrous waves, and yes at the time of high flow, in the monsoon, this may be justified but at most flows there are many class 3 and class 4 rivers of moderate difficulty and also many rivers of class 2 where you can float along admiring the scenery and running a few very small rapids. Rafting in Nepal is a superb experience in it’s own right- the thrill of running white water rapids is the cream on the cake for those who enjoy it!

Many people are naturally a little bit fearful if they haven’t been on white water before, but after the first rapid ‘hit’ – as long as people are physically fit and not scared of water they can safely go on water of class 2 to 3. Remember that we grade a river on the hardest section – most rivers have days of easier water and long stretches in between the rapid in which to relax. For more difficult and exciting class 4 rivers people should be active, confident in water and preferably have some previous rafting experience.

Personal Safety Points

Your guide will give you a safety talk at the start of your trip and give basic guidance. He will probably cover the following points.

  • Normally were your life jacket at all times when on the water – check with the Guide before talking it off, even just to don a sweater. Were your helmets when directed by the Guide, (or more often if you don’t true the way your team mates wield their paddles!). Wear your life jacket and helmet with the traps done up comfortably so that they will protect you and not just fall off at the first bump.
  • It’s a good idea to keep your life jacket on if scrambling along the sides of a rapid to scout or take photographs – it’s all too easy to slip into the rapid.
  • Keep your legs and arms inside the raft. If you are going to hit a rock, then let the raft bounces off, don’t try and fend off – rafts are tougher then human bones and cost less to rapid. 
  • Never, at any time, or in any circumstance, tie or wrap a rope around any part of you, (for example looped around your wrist) – this can hold you under water and drown you.

If you do take an accidental swim

  • Try not to panic.
  • Hold onto your paddle (this makes you more visible).
  • Swim to the raft if close.
  • Get into the white water swimming position, on your back, keeping your feet on the surface and pointing downstream ( so you can see where you are going and can push off rocks with your feet).
  • Relax, practice breath control and enjoy the ride!
  • Keep your feet on the surface and don’t try and stand up until you are in still water as there is a danger of foot entrapment.

Nepal’s River Systems

Nepalese rivers can be grouped into three categories on the basis of their origin.

  1. Antecedent to himalaya
  2. After The Mahabharat
  3. After the Churia range

Antecedent rivers belong to the period prior to the rise of the Himalaya, these rivers added their tributaries during or after the Himalayan origin alongwith the development of mosoon climate. After the formation of Mahabharat hills, the antecedent rivers changed their courses as Mahabharat stood as a barrier. As a result, most of the these rivers were responsible to deposit the sediments in the Churis basin.

The major river system namely the Koshi, the Karnali and the Gandaki belong to the antecedent group. Rivers originating from the Mahabharat range and cutting through Churia hills come under the second group, these include Kankai, Bagamati, Kamala etc. the third group of riverd orginate from the southern face of the Churia hills. For the purpose of commercial rafting, the following rivers are in use.

  1. SaptaKoshi River System (East Nepal)
  2. Narayani or Saptagandaki River System (Central Nepal)
  3. Karnali River System (West Nepal)

When to go rafting in Nepal

Best times of the year for river paddling in Nepal are beginning September through to Early December. In September, early October the rivers are running high water with the Monsoon run-off so we choose to run the classic big volume rivers. October is the best months for Rafting/kayaking, the weather is settled, and this is one of the most popular times for rafting and kayaking in Nepal due to warm water and long hot days, perfect for the river and with dropping river flows time it is time to graduate to some steeper runs. From June till August the Monsoon rains arrive and the rivers hold much bigger.

Nepal: 'World's Best Destination for White Water Rafting & Kayaking' 'Save Our Rivers for Tourism'