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Features Issue 116 Jul, 2011
Text by Niraj Karki / Photo: ECS Media

The river has taught me to listen; you will learn from it, too. The river knows everything; one can learn everything from it. — Herman Hesse, Siddhartha

There is no other place in this world quite like the country of Nepal. Engulfed in the giant embrace of the Holy Himalayas, the landscape of the country stretches from a mere 70 meters (Kanchan Kalan) all the way to an astounding 8,850 meters (Mt. Everest) - the highest altitude on Earth. The dramatic topography of Nepal makes it not only the Mecca of trekking and climbing destinations, but it has also blessed the country with an expansive system of rushing rivers. The 6,100 rivers that stretch endlessly throughout the vast valleys, some of which are the fastest in the world, have earned Nepal the name “the water tower of Asia.” Extending from the high mountain glaciers, these cherished sacred waterways are the ever-flowing source of life for the people of Nepal. For the river-runners of the world, however, the rushing Himalayan water is an endless playground, a utopian set-up for exhilarating water sports such as rafting and kayaking. Surrounded by the unmatched beauty of Nepal’s landscape, navigate your way down technical whitewater rapids, or paddle peacefully down quieter rivers - either way, an experience on one of Nepal’s magical rivers will breed new life into the flow of your veins.

You can obviously do kayaking in most places where you can raft and a lot more places in addition to rivers. The Sun Koshi river is among the best places for kayaking anywhere. There are also a number of courses for kayaking available in Nepal via a number of agencies (see links below) for all levels from beginners to advanced.



The River System
The rivers of Nepal can be divided into three categories, in accordance to their origin. For the purpose of water sports, the following river systems are in use:
1. Saptakoshi River System (East Nepal)
2. Narayani or Saptagandaki River System (Central Nepal)
3. Karnali River System (West Nepal) Short Rafting Trips: between one and four days and do not involve any trekking
Seti River, Trishuli River, Bhote-Koshi River, Kali-Gandaki River
Longer trips: Five or more days, some with trek to Nepal’s most remote areas:
River Marshyangdi, Arun River, Sun-Koshi River, Karnali River In these three river systems, eleven are open for rafting:
*Travel time is approximated from the starting point of Kathmandu, with the exception of a few from Pokhara, as stated. Duration of travel time may differ significantly regarding the use of private or public bus transport. Flights are also available to or near many of the locations.


The River Rafting Grading System
Grade 1: Rapids are small, regular waves. The passage is clear and easy to negotiate.

Grade 2: Rapids have regular, medium sized waves. Low ledges or drops, easy eddies and gradual bends. The passage is easy to recognize and is generally unobstructed although there may be rocks in the main current.

Grade 3: Rapids with fairly high waves (1-2 meters), broken water, strong eddies, exposed rocks and small falls. Maneuvering to negotiate the rapid is required.

Grade 4: Difficult rapids with high, powerful, irregular waves, broken water, often boiling eddies, ledges, drops, dangerous exposed rocks. Precise and sequential manoeuvring is required. Grade 5: Very powerful rapis with very irregular and broken water, large drops, violent and fast currents, abrupt turns, fast boiling eddies, numerous obstacles. Complex, precise and sequential maneuvering is required.