www.canoekayak.co.uk : March 2014
HOW TO PLAN YOUR OWN
Adventure ARTICLE: ROSS MONTANDON IMAGES: WEST HOWLAND
With big mountains, big rivers and even bigger adventures, Nepal has become a popular destination for whitewater paddlers who gravitate to its gorgeous multi-day river trips like bears to a honeypot. If youâ€™re looking for somewhere a little different, a step up in adventure from your usual club trip to the Alps, or similar then it could be just what youâ€™re looking for.
www.canoekayak.co.uk : March 2014
epal is home to some of the best multi-day, big volume whitewater in the world. It’s a destination location that has kick started the passion for exploration and expeditions for many budding whitewater kayakers. Its combination of diverse culture, great whitewater and not to mention paddling in the shadows of some of the highest mountains in the world is a heady mix. Nepal, with out a doubt, is a world class paddling location and, as we’re about to explain, organising your own Himalayan adventure really isn’t that hard. So here’s the CKUK guide to plan your ultimate Himalayan river trip!
“Known as the ‘River of Gold’ this is a very popular from A to B. An absolute minimum I would recommend is three
vary in price. As a guide you can get
weeks. If you are lucky enough to have time and opportunity then
a suitable private room for as little $8
five or six weeks is ideal to give you more time to explore and
adventure further a field. Stay any longer and I promise you, you may never leave, some people don’t!
HERE ARE SOME OF OUR FAVOURITES TO CONSIDER
Kathmandu Guest House
There are many airlines that fly to Nepal now. But whether they will
take your boat is a different matter. Depending on your intended trip
This is a top end guesthouse for
hiring a god quality kayak in Nepal has been made easier over the years
travellers looking for a bit more luxury.
river for multi-day trips, sandy beaches, cascading waterfalls, jungle corridors, big, but friendly, whitewater, this trip has everything you need for that perfect Himalayan adventure.”
through various outfitters. You want to fly into Kathmandu Tribhuvan Airport and from here it is a short journey to Thamel the tourist district.
Holy Lodge http://www.holylodge.com
HERE ARE A FEW AIRLINES FOR CONSIDERATION •
One of the fantastic things about Nepal is that it really has a great
Prince House Guesthouse
range of whitewater, from grade 2, perfect to sharpen skills and
A small but quiet guesthouse a private
learn on, to remote grade 5 multi expeditions. It is one of the first,
room can be $10 a night.
and logistically easiest, locations where whitewater paddlers can
Turkish Air Northfield Guesthouse
get to experience the joys of multi-day paddling. Not to mention
WHERE SHOULD I STAY? KATHMANDU
world then Nepal could certainly seem a bit of a culture shock. This
There are two main hangouts for kayakers in Nepal, Kathmandu
a host of rooms for any traveller rooms
however is all part of the experience, and the main paddler hang
and Pokhara. Both have everything you need to refresh and
start at around $20.
outs, such as Pokhara and the Thamel area of Kathmandu have all
energize before heading back out on the river.
having a wealth of culture, people and breathtaking natural beauty If you have never travelled outside of Europe, or the western
the requirements and comforts you should need to get you adjusted.
A paddler friendly hostel with simple rooms.
IS NEPAL FOR ME?
Right on the main drag of Thamel with
Upon arrival in Kathmandu your best bet is to head straight to the tourist district of Thamel. It’s home to many hotels, restaurants,
HOW LONG SHOULD I PLAN FOR MY TRIP?
RIVERS FROM KATHMANDU
rafting/adventure/trekking companies and many, many outdoor
There are nice selections of rivers that
Getting from place to place can be very time consuming in Nepal,
clothing and equipment shops. From here you can settle in, find
can be completed setting out from
for a variety of reasons. The roads and traffic do not make travel
your feet and arrange buses to Pokhara or taxis to your intended
Kathmandu. Some can be done fairy
quick or as efficient in Nepal compared to what you are used to.
river. He many rafting outfitters have a wealth of experience and
quickly, others lend themselves to
This can mean that it takes you a day to get between rivers, at the
they can organise most logistics for you if required, for a price.
perfectly to the adventure of a longer
very least. So your time can easily be soaked up in simply getting
As for accommodation there are many to chose from and all
BHOTE KOSI This has a range of grade 4/5 whitewater making it ideal for a paddler warming up for some of the more remote whitewater. This run is all roadside, allowing you to pick and choose what rapids you tackle. The Lower Bhote Kosi is a touch more mellow and flows out into the Sun Kosi.
BALEHPI KHOLA A real gem, slightly lower volume than the nearby Bhote Kosi, but all with read and run whitewater. Grade 3 /4 can easily be done in an afternoon.
SUN KOSI Known as the ‘River of Gold’ this is a very popular river for multi-day trips, sandy beaches, cascading waterfalls, jungle corridors, big, but friendly, whitewater, this trip has everything you need for that perfect Himalayan adventure. We think that enjoying the nine-day run from Dolghat to Chatra is one of Nepal’s absolute classic river trips. u
www.canoekayak.co.uk : March 2014
“One of the fantastic things about Nepal is that it really has a great range of whitewater, from grade 2 to remote grade 5 multi expeditions.”
Pokhara is a seven-hour bus ride from Kathmandu, or a short
KALI GANDAKI GRADE 3 /4
internal plane flight. With its mellow vibe, lakeside location
A fun run, and very popular with commercial rafting companies over
and close proximity to, in our opinion, some of the best rivers
two nights on the river. Sadly some of the classic sections were lost
in he country, Pokhara is a great hangout spot for any paddler.
to a hydro project some years ago, but it is still a fun, if shortened,
Although considerably smaller than Kathmandu Pokhara still
multi-day, either with raft support or with loaded kayaks. The Kali’s
has a plethora of guesthouses and restaurants to keep you
almost jungle like scenery leads you through some fun whitewater,
smiling, and ideal for a pre, or post, chill out. The main drag
with a few bigger rapids thrown in to keep you on your toes.
call, although it can get surprisingly chilly in some of the gorges. A
The currency in Nepal is rupees, although big purchases, such as
pair of board-shorts & thermal leggings combined with a lighter-
bills for hotels can be paid in US dollars. You can change sterling
weight long-sleeved cag is a good compromise.
very easily in to rupees in Kathmandu or Pokhara.
The visa application is very simple for Nepal; you will need a
The best season for kayakers is from September through to
passport that has more than six-months left before it’s expiry date.
December. With October being the busiest season. Whilst the
The visa can be done online, or upon arrival. Remember to take
rivers are still runnable in December things can cool off in the
two passport photos with you when you travel, in fact take lots with
valleys. Springtime can also offer some good paddling, from
you as they come in handy for rafting and trekking permits too.
around Feb to May time, but the choice of rivers is more limited.
WHAT SHOULD I TAKE?
The beauty of Nepal is that you can pick up pretty much anything
By now you’ll hopefully be hooked on the idea of your own
you need in Kathmandu, for very little cost. In a nutshell all you
personal Himalayan adventure and will be surfing the net and
really need is your paddling kit, and a medical kit (even these could
dreaming of big, fluffy waves. Now is an ideal time to begin
be bought in-country if needed). The rest is no problem. By the
thinking about and planning your trip and if you do find yourself
river a pair of long trousers and a light down jacket is perfect for
paddling under the shadows of those magnificent mountains we
the evenings and mornings. On the water a shortie can be a good
promise you you’ll return again and again. Namaste!
is known as Lakeside, which, as it’s name suggests, overlooks lots of the classic whitewater runs, and if you want to stay close
MARSYANDI GRADE 4
to town, you can even spend a day running laps on the Upper
This is many a visiting paddler’s favourite run, and can be paddled
Seti, 30-minutes outside of Pokhara. Again all the major outdoor
over two days, either camping or and staying in riverside teahouses.
adventure companies have offices in Pokhara and there’s even a
You could even hire yourself a taxi driver to stay with you, as the
great kayak shop!
river comes close to a road in many places, so you can call time
Pokhara Lake. From Pokhara you can arrange logistics for your
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ross Montandon
whenever you’ve had enough. This is another run that’s suffered from
RIVERS NEAR POKHARA
a hydro project, but it still boasts more quality whitewater than most
European rivers can shake a stick at. If you want to push things a
Grade 3 /4 of boulder garden whitewater, an ideal section for a rest
little harder then venturing upstream to Ngadi means you will find
day, as it’s local to Pokhara.
steeper, more committing, whitewater to slate your thirst.
UPPER MODI KHOLA GRADE 4/5
MADI KHOLA GRADE 4/5
A truly beautiful run, that flows along the trekking route in to
This can be done in one long day, or split in to a two-day run. The first
the Annapurna Mountain range. The upper sections require a
sections of whitewater are fast and committing grade 4/5. However it
day’s walk in, with porters carrying your boats. There are plenty
soon flattens out for the remaining paddle to the take out.
of tea houses along the way if you wish to break it up and stay over on the hike, and if you want to break he run in to two parts.
GETTING TO AND FROM THE RIVER
The Modi can be paddled from various places. The higher up
Your best bet is to arrange a taxi, and you can hire a taxi from
sections from New Bridge reach a continuous grade 5,whilst
most rafting outfitters, or just find one in the street and negotiate,
further downstream, past Landruk; it tapers off to grade 4. If you
to follow you along a river. A good alternative is to join the
are looking for something a little less full on then the Lower Modi
commercial rafting trips, leaving you to enjoy the whitewater with
holds some enjoyable grade ¾. All the way down to the Kali
an empty kayak. Do bear in mind though that this can take some
last minute planning as outfitters keep things pretty flexible.
FURTHER READING A pre-trip essential purchase for anyone thinking of paddling in Nepal is Whitewater Nepal 3rd Edition) by Pete Knowles & Daz Clarkson-King. Order your copy from http://bit.ly/1fQNPjS
Ross has been writing for CKUK for many years now. He has paddled extensively in Nepal, Europe, North America, Morocco and New Zealand. Ross is a Level 5 Coach and runs his own whitewater kayak coaching company, New Wave Coaching. He runs trips to Nepal, Europe and Scotland. www.newwavecoaching.co.uk