Time for adventure story corner!
Whilst trekking in the beautiful Khumbu region of Nepal, I met a new friend- her name is Andrea- and on a complete whim, we decided to check out some whitewater rafting.
Nepal is renowned worldwide for its trekking and mountain adventures- and most automatically think of Mount Everest when they think of Nepal. However, Nepal also has a wonderful network of river systems. When I went to check out whitewater rafting through Nepal, there were a host of options to explore- everything from light rapids to intense whitewater! The option we chose was around the middle- nothing too extreme, but still with some awesome rapids to take on. We went in the month of October, when the water levels were moderate. From June to August in Nepal, it is monsoon season. It rains almost every day during this time, and the water levels are extremely high- thereby ensuring that the rapids become much more dangerous.
How We Got There
Whilst staying in a hostel in Kathmandu (Nepal’s capital), Andrea and I headed out into Thamel (a tourist district). We price matched a couple different places that were offering various adventure packages for whitewater rafting through Nepal. It is easy to find places that offer these services- there are signs everywhere advertising different adventures you can undertake! Anything from trekking and rafting, to kayaking and climbing is available. We eventually decided on a company which included transportation to the launch area, two days rafting, all meals, guides, overnight accommodation (tents), and transportation after the trip for 70 USD. We left on a bus from Kathmandu at a meeting point early morning. The bus ride was approximately three hours long, and there was lots of beautiful scenery to admire on the way.
A White Water Adventure (and some good food!)
When we arrived at the launch site, we were given equipment (paddles, life jackets and helmets). Here’s a photo of us in our fetching gear!
Our guides gave us a safety talk by the riverside.They gave us a brief explanation on how to paddle and how to sit in the raft. They also gave us a brief on what to do if we fell overboard (personally, I was hoping for that!). From whitewater rafting in Canada, I also remembered the most likely “splash zone” (up front on the right!!) and chose this spot for myself.
We paddled for an hour or so before stopping for lunch. The rapids we came across were approximately grade 2-3; so nothing that required extreme skill on the water, but moderate paddling and navigation is required to avoid capsize. We stopped at a local home to eat lunch. For lunch we were served Nepali dal bhat (lentil curry with rice). Dal bhat is a staple in Nepal, incredibly filling and delicious, and what I ate primarily while staying in the country. Below is a photo of our lunch stop!
After lunch, we hit some more rapids, this time primarily grade 3. I was thrown from the raft into the rapids more than once! It was awesome, and I have never felt more like a jungle explorer! The forest on either side of the channel rose above us in lush hills. The trees I saw were unfamiliar and green with vegetation. Monkeys waved at us from the side of the river. Paddling down through the waves of the channel surrounded by these exotic sights, passing underneath suspension bridges and small local villages- I felt like a true explorer. It was an amazing feeling.
A Night Under the Stars
Honestly I can say this was one of the best nights that I’ve spent in my life. Winding down for the evening, my friend and I had brought a bottle of wine to share. Our guides erected tents for us right on the side of the river. They also made us dinner. Dinner featured two types of plain noodles, a turnip-like vegetable, and oddly enough, US style french fries. We ate before retiring.
I built a campfire, and three of us (Andrea, myself and a new friend we’d made) drank wine out of camping mugs. We sat by the fire and talked long into the night. It was an incredible clear evening, and the stars came out along with the philosophical conversation. The feeling of sitting out under the stars by a fire, listening to the sounds of the river gushing beside us, in a country that was not my own – the feeling was indescribable. I didn’t know where I was. I could not point it out for you on a map. However, I often think back on it and count it among one of my favourite memories. Just the feeling of being and purely existing has never felt so good.
A New Adventure Awaits…
A cliff jump kicked off the second day of rafting, which only half our group elected to undertake. It wasn’t too high, but it was a lot of fun!! Here’s a photo of me jumping, taken by Andrea:
Day Two of rafting featured less rapids and a lot more drifting down the channel than did the first day, a more relaxing day of the two. I spent a lot of time drifting in the water next to the boat myself. Drifting down a gentle stream took up half the day. Andrea and I were cold (and soaked in my case) by the time we arrived at the end of the trip. We were led up a narrow trail and across a suspension bridge into a crowded street. Lunch (more dal bhat- yum!) and a place to change into dry clothes was provided for us.
The trip ended with roaming the streets to locate a bus to Pokhara, a lakeside town. Our rafting fare covered our bus trip. From Kathmandu, the trip to Pokhara by bus is approximately 7 hours. If you’re headed there, why not raft the majority of it? You’ll have some incredible experiences along the way? It was an amazing trip, and I’m glad we acted on our whim and decided to go the road (river?) less travelled!! It ended up changing my direction of travel, and I had a host of experiences and incredible memories that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Tell me about a time that you’ve acted upon a whim and ended up changing the trajectory of your experience! Comment below!