The Himalayas that sits atop northern Nepal gives birth to numerous white-water rivers. There are more than 6,000 rivers in Nepal. Nepal is just 200 km wide from North to South while the altitude variation in this 200-kilometre distance varies from 70 meters to 8,848 meters. The altitude difference from the Himalaya region to the Terai region has created numerous fast flowing rivers with steep downturns and gorges. The countless speedy rivers have listed Nepal as the prime destination for rafting. Rafting in Nepal is popular all over the world among professional rafters and kayakers and adventure lovers.
White-Water Rafting in Nepal
Nepal is a preferred destination among tourists for a revitalising vacation among nature and pristine beauty. Many tourists favour trekking and mountaineering followed by white-water rafting. Adventure loving tourists make rafting in Nepal a must do priority. The rivers originate in the Himalayas and traverse down through hills and mountains gaining increased momentum. The rapid flow of water in the rivers makes Nepal a sought out destination by rafters and adventure lovers for rafting in Nepal.
Rafting in Nepal is also an opportunity for sightseeing the hills and settlements around the riverbanks. You experience the natural thrill, scenic view of hills and mountains, sandy beaches and traditional villages. You can choose to either paddle, oar or kayak in the river. Kayaking in the speedy rivers of Nepal is ideal if you have prior experience of white-water rafting. Travelling down a twisting, crashing and swirling waves of bouncy water will add thrill and excitement to your rafting experience.
The rivers of Nepal vary as per the difficulty to raft. Sought out rivers like Bhote Koshi, Sun Koshi and Trisuli have sections graded as Class IV and V difficulties. The government of Nepal has permitted commercial rafting in about ten rivers. Not all parts of the rivers are suitable for rafting. The Government predetermines the part of the river where you can raft. Some rivers where you can raft while in Nepal are Bhotekoshi, Tamur, Sunkoshi, Karnali, Kaligandaki, Trishuli, Seti Khola, Bheri, Upper Sunkoshi, Marshyngdi, Lower Arun, Seti Karnali, and Dudha Koshi.
Rivers for Rafting in Nepal
Bhote Khosi is the most preferred destination for rafting in Nepal. Bhote Koshi gets its popularity not just for being in proximity to Kathmandu, but it is the steepest river you can raft in Nepal with a 15-meter gradient per kilometre. The Bhote Koshi is called Tibetan river because it originates in Tibet. The river is used for rafting as well as kayaking.
The river creates steep and direct drop from the top which later turns into calmer and placid streams. The length of the river where you can raft in 46 kilometres from the top. The rapids at upper Bhote Koshi are of Class III, IV, and V and the lower part of the river boils down to a Class III difficulty. You can also try some other adventure activities in Bhote Koshi. Bungee, Bridge Swing, Canoying are some other exhilarating adventure activities you can try in Bhote Koshi.
You can raft in Bhote Koshi in two parts, Upper Bhote Koshi raft, and Lower Bhote Koshi raft.
Upper Bhote Koshi Raft
The Upper Bhote Koshi raft is a euphoria rafting experience unique in the whole world. The raft in Upper Bhote Koshi is dubbed “Roller Coaster.” The twist and turns of water in these areas are unexpected and give an added sensation of exhilaration and adrenaline rush. The waters of Upper Bhote Koshi falls under Class IV and Class V difficulty. The entire raft section comprises twists and turns till the end point of the raft. The raft starts near the Northern border of Nepal and ends at Lamosangu Dam.
The Upper Bhote Koshi is the epitome of rafting in Nepal. The raft is a three days trip. You reach the starting point of the raft in about 5 hours drive from Kathmandu. You will accommodate in lodges, riverside resorts and camp in river banks during the raft.
The best time for an Upper Bhote Koshi raft is in Autumn and Spring season. In summer, the water level rises significantly and can be dangerous to raft. People living in the vicinity of the river, in the hills and along the highway are of Tamang and Gurung ethnicity.
Lower Bhote Koshi Raft
The Lower Bhote Koshi rafting is another section of Bhote Koshi you can raft in Nepal. The lower stretch starts at the ending point of Upper Bhote Koshi, Lamosangu Dam and goes all way down to Dolalghat. The Lower Bhote Koshi raft is generally easier than that of Upper Bhote Koshi. The raft starts with Class IV, and Class V turns and swirls and gradually decreases to Class III waves and bounces.
The Lower Bhote Koshi is a three-day trip. The starting point is three hours drive from Kathmandu on paved roads. You will accommodate in riverside camps and riverside resorts. Prior experience is not needed for the Lower Bhote Koshi rafting.
Sun Koshi Rafting
Sun Koshi is another widespread rafting river in Nepal. It also originates in Tibet and is a sister river of Sapta Koshi. Many international magazines list the Sun Koshi as one of the best rivers for a white-water raft in the world. Several professional rafters and kayakers come to conquer the waves of Sun Koshi. As the name suggests, Sun Koshi is called “River of Gold.” The river is famous for gold flakes. People search for gold on the banks of the river. Along the raft, the water and riverbanks sparkle in golden colour. Local inhibitants are of diverse enhnic groups. People of Brahmin, Chhetri, Tamang and Limbu ethnic community live near the river. People often fish in the calm waters on the lower parts of the river.
Sun Koshi is 4-hour drive far from Kathmandu. The starting point of the raft is in Dolalghat. The Sun Koshi raft moves east from Dolalghat. The river passes Khurkot, Harakpur and ends at Chatara in the east, just above Sapta Koshi. The same route is used to reach the Koshi Tappu Reserve by rafting. The rafting route consists majorly of jungle corridors and green hills. The Sun Koshi raft is hidden away from busy highway roads which provide you with the feel of rafting in a peaceful environment.
Sun Koshi Rafting is 9 days long raft where you traverse through Class III and Class IV waves. The accommodation will be at camps set at the banks of the river. The Sun Koshi rafting is a true feel of nature rafting in among the jungles and wilderness of Nepal.
Trisuli is the most popular river for white water rafting in Nepal. Trisuli has moderate level waves and is a perfect river for beginner rafters. The Trisuli rafting section runs alongside the highway connecting Kathmandu so that you will see lots of buses and cars on the highway. Rafting in Nepal became popular as Trisuli rafting was opened. Many local as well as foreign tourists far in Trisuli.
The starting point of Trisuli rafting is Chauradi. Running along the highway, the river moves south, and the rafting ends in Devghat. The waters of Trisuli river falls under Class III and Class IV difficulty. The river is quite broad and easy to navigate. Many local tourists from Kathmandu, Chitwan, and Pokhara attend rafting in Trisuli river.
Trisuli river is famous for fishing. The local inhabitants who live on the banks of Trisuli fish prepare and sell several fish dishes. The unregulated fishing by local people have sharply reduced the population of fish in the Trisuli river. Some regularly found aquatic life in the river are Jalkapoor, Fresh water eel, river catfish, Giant Murrel and Feather Back.
If you have limited time and want a quick experience of white-water rafting in Nepal, there is no better option than rafting in Trisuli. It is the shortest rafting in Nepal. The one day raft will fulfil the thrill of rafting and provides you with views of nearby greenery of hills and rare mountains sight.
Karnali is the longest river in Nepal that originates in glaciers of Mapchachungo in the Himalayas. The river flows south through the remote and least explored area of Nepal. Karnali rafting is a classic experience among total wilderness and away from modern developments such as cars, buses, concrete houses, and telecommunications. The white-waters of Karnali gives you the experience of Class III to Class V rapids. The raft starts from Tallo, Dhungeswor in Surkhet. The rafting goes through rapids like Red Canyon Gorge, Jail House Rock, and Inversion.
During the raft, you can see deers drinking water on the banks of the Karnali river. Settlement in Khar Khola is ideal for fishing. People in the area live on the banks of the river. Rafting through the jungles, you can gaze upon some fantastic animals and birds. The forests are of Blue pine, Spruce, fir, and birch. The area is the habitat of Himalayan blue sheep, Himalayan Monal, blood pheasant and cheer pheasant. Many aquatic birds like Waterfowl, Coot, Red Crested Pochard and Mallard live in the waters and often are afloat the river banks. You might even get to see the Gangus dolphins in the waters near the end of the raft at Chisapani.
People have settled in few numbers on the banks of the river. The people of Karnali are of Rai, Magar, and Gurung ethnic background. Agriculture and fishery are the main income generating sources.
Some of the other rivers you can choose to raft in Nepal are:
Seti River: Another option for one-day rafting near Pokhara
Tamur River: Ideal river for long duration rafting in Nepal
Marsyangdi River: The whitest and fastest flowing river of Nepal
Season for Rafting in Nepal
The major season of Nepal is Summer, Autumn, Spring, and Winter. The ideal season for rafting in Nepal is the autumn and spring. In autumn and spring, the tides are not too high or too low. The rivers aren’t dry and have generous twists and turns, perfect for rafting without dangers.
Summer season is not appreciable for rafting in Nepal. Summer season sees constant monsoon rain and increases the water levels ten folds. The increased water brings water in strong momentum and crashes the side hills with massive force. Rafting in summer can be very dangerous and can cause fatalities. In winter, the water somewhat dries and won’t deliver the same thrill and excitement as in autumn or spring season.
Foreigners need a river permit for rafting in Nepal. The fee for rafting in rivers is cheap compared to prices you pay to enter other areas like Annapurna Region and Langtang National Park. The cost of rafting permit to raft in a river is Rs. 80. You can pay the fee personally or arrange the permit through your travel agency.
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