A Complete Guide to Nepal's Rivers
Rivers and Ratings page will tell you what's running and when.
||6 to 10
||II to III+
||II to III+
||III to V
||III to IV
||III to V
||III to IV
||2 to 3
||III to IV+
||8 or 9
||III+ to V-
||III to IV+
Round III / Jun to Aug IV (Monsoon)
any river above to see details.
- (Kartikeghat to Chatara / Dharan)
Kartikeghat, the put in point, can be approached
either by flight or by road. The trip requires, however, taking
a mini trek to reach Kartikeghat either from the airstrip or the
bus park. It takes one hour's flight to reach Tumlingtar. If the
Tumlingtar flight is scheduled in the afternoon, the first day camp
can be put up at Tumlingtar itself. The afternoon could be spent
visiting this tiny village with small tea-shops and the air-strip.
The following day, after breakfast trek to Kartikeghat
starts at a gradual pace: this takes about four hours. The river
crew organize the equipment in preparation for the early start next
morning. You can explore the surrounding areas.
The third day, a rapid is hit as soon as sailing
starts. Some more rapids are encountered in succession.
From Tumlingtar, you star around 9.30 a.m., after
breakfast. Today is pretty smooth except for a few rapids graded
between 5-6 class.
The fifth day, you face more challenges than the
previous days as a number of rapids come one after another in succession.
The first encounter is a left bend rapid before the suspension bridge
at Ranighat. A number of rapids follow after this, until Bhite rapid
is hit across, Camp nearby this rapid.
The sixth day is pretty smooth and relaxed compared
to the previous day. The Arun now meets with the Sunkoshi into a
confluence of the Saptakoshi river. Below this confluence it is
the same as Sunkoshi river trip. You can either drive back from
Chatara via Biratnagar or fly out form Biratnagar to Kathmandu.
For a Bheri river trip you have options between
taking a one-and-a-half-hour flight to Nepalgunj from Kathmandu
or a 627 km long journey by road. The flight provides you opportunity
for the spectacular views of the Himalayas. If you prefer to take
a flight, then a four-hour drive is required to reach Samjhighat,
the put-in point. The drive itself is a unique experience winding
up through the Siwalik hills and passing through local villages.
Camp on the Bheri river bank at Samjhighat.
The next day after breakfast, adventure on the
Bheri begins. About twenty minutes after sail off, the first big
rapid is encountered, far shadowing the many to come. The Bheri
river itself is so remote that it remains a relatively unexplored
river of the west Nepal. The first section of the river is quite
tough with twists and turns, creating many exciting rapids. After
lunch, in the late evening, come to rest on one of many sandy beaches.
Camp at Kamekot
The third day takes you into an exciting narrow
gorge section of the river with vertical cliffs of 200-300 feet
on either side. The gorge is interspersed with open valleys where
there are small villages. In the afternoon, stop sailing and camp
The fourth or final day on the river still holds
a few surprises with several small but exciting rapids to be encountered.
By mid-day, you arrive at the confluence of the Bheri and Karnali
rivers. Then once again enter another gorge section which open up
onto the huge plains of the southern Terai region of Nepal.
A Bheri river trip can be continued with a jungle
tour in the Bardia Wildlife Reserve. Otherwise, drive back to Kathmandu
Here's a great river trip for a short expedition
with access to the river's put-in point just 3 hours outside Kathmandu.
The Bhote Kosi is known as the River from Tibet and you can start
a trip after a peak over the border into Tibet. The Kathmandu/Lhasa
Highway (AKA Friendship Highway, Arniko Highway) runs along beside
the river. You can ran a day trip or do a two day expedition and
run parts of the river twice. It's a great beginner river for rafters
and fun for kayakers at all levels.
The local village of Bahrabise offers a chance
to mingle with locals and tour a Nepali paper factory. You can also
trek to an old fort that housed 5,000 soldiers in by-gone days of
Tibet/Nepal border skirmishes.
Now, you'll find a unexpected surprise at river
start as the Borderland Resort and Adventure Activity center has
opened and offers rafting, canyoning, trekking, biking and fantastic
food at the main put-in point of the Bhote Kosi. Be warned, most
people that journey there for a one or two day trip wished they
had book more days for adventure and R&R at the center.
A Kaligandaki river trip first requires either
a 30 - minute flight or a 6-hour drive form Kathmandu to Pokhara.
A model trip could begin at Modibeni, the confluence of the Kaligandaki
river and the Modikhola. Before trekking towards Modibeni, a drive
of approximately one and a half hour is required to reach Naudanda.
A day long trek form Naudanda takes you to Karkineta. Lunch could
be taken at Phedi. Stay another night at Karkineta. A clean weather
morning offers a magnificent view of sunrise form here. So is an
evening for sunset. After a few hours, walk from Karkineta the following
day, you reach Modibeni at noon. From Modibeni the first day on
the river gives a few rapids ranging from 4-6 classes and a number
of nice waves. A small temple is at sight in Jimrighat after an
hour's rafting form Modibeni. The day's camping place is normally
The second day also, you encounter a few rapids
followed by a relatively bigger one before reaching Purtighat. A
couple of hours from Byadi is a Setibeni rapid to the left of a
village, called Setibeni. At this point the river bends to the right.
The next day a class 6 rapids is encountered within
less than half an hour after start nearby Pahadi. Ridi Bazaar is
a small bazaar en route to the camping place, Belghari. In Ridi
Bazaar there is a bank where money can be exchanged. About 20 minutes
below Belghari is located an old and attractive palace called Ranighat
Palace in a check about 40 minutes from here on the raft you come
across a big rapid, perhaps the biggest in the complete trip. Today's
lunch-spot, Mandran, is also perhaps the best lunch-spot in the
complete trip. Normal campsite is Malunga village.
The fifth day's rafting takes you to the Ramdighat
bridge (half an hour's walk below camp site) on the Siddhartha Highway,
314 km form Kathmandu. Food supplies are available here. Today's
camp is at Nisrati. Food supplies are available here. From Nisrati
to Bhujat it take about an hour on the raft. An appropriate lunch-spot
here is Puttarghat, 4 hours distance form Nisarti. The sixth day's
camping is at Batulitar.
The seventh day also you come across a few small
rapids. Today's lunch-spot is khalte and camping could be done some
15 minutes downward from Khalte. The campsite is an isolated place
and quite often footprints of wild animals could be spotted here.
The next day ends the trip. You arrive at Devghat,
the confluence of the Trishuli and the Kaligandaki, which takes
three hours from Khalte. This is the lunch-spot of the day. After
lunch, rafting continues for about half an hour till Narayanghat,
the take out point.
Now you have an option either to drive back to
Kathmandu which takes normally 6 hours or to visit the Royal Chitwan
National Park. There are a number of lodges/camps of different classes
providing varied quality of services at varying prices.
- (Damauli to Narayanghat)
The first day you drive west of Kathmandu early
in the morning for Damauli, roughly 160 km away. After the rafts
are rigged, you set off down the Setikhola, a tributary of the Saptagandaki
river. You spend the whole day within its forested canyon. The luxuriant
vegetation visible along the river is a remnant of the vast forested
area which once covered the middle hills of Nepal. In the afternoon
a small but technical rapid is encountered near the village of Saranghat,
inhabited by Magars, who are renowned for generations of service
with the Gurkha forces. Saranghat is a colorful middle hill village.
The first night's camp is on a spacious beach below the village.
The next day you encounter a technical rapid graded
between 3-5 before entering the Trishuli river. Here middle hills
and the Terai plains opens up before us. The topography gets changed
dramatically. The twisted severe rock formations give way to sandstone
and gravel deposited by antecedent rivers. After lunch you can visit
a unique religious community-Devghat, well known among the Hindus.
Every year in mid-January, thousands of pilgrims visit the river
and the ashram to worship. At this point where the Kaligandki joins
the Trishuli and becomes the Narayani river you get a choice between
coming back to Kathmandu or continuing journey to visit the Royal
Chitwan National Park.
The most common put in point of a Sunkoshi river
trip is Dolalghat, 3 hours drive east of Kathmandu. At the outset,
the river is peaceful and the first day is a leisurely introduction
to river life. The gentle sloping hills are typical to this area.
Rich color and varied rock formations are evident during the entire
trip. The Sunkoshi traverses the Mahabharat range and follows one
of the main geological fault lines of the Himalaya. Camp immediately
after Koohyay Bheer (rotten cliff)
You hit a number of rapids after 'Koohyay Bheer'.
En route the second day you come across many ethnic groups, each
unique and colorful. Unlike other modes of travel, the river provides
an easy access to remote areas seldom seen or visited by foreigners.
Tonight's camp is above the Rosi Khola, a tributary of the Sunkoshi.
The third day, after a run of a few hours, you
stop at Junga Khola, a beautiful Newar village, located on a bluff
above the river. The village is a collection of white houses and
grain fields. In the center of the village is a cobbled square shaded
by a large peepal tree, the square is surrounded by small shops
where merchants trade.
In the afternoon the confluence of the Tambakoshi
(Copper river) is crossed. On a hill above the river is a small
temple inhabited by a hermit. Temples and houses are built on the
ridge to aid easy travel and catch more sunshine during the day.
A visit to this temple is worth while. Later camp near the village
The next day the canyon changes. The ridge begins
to close in and the vegetation becomes thicker. You sail through
an interesting geological areas and encounter a number of small
and medium size rapids. The Himalaya is supposed to have been formed
by the enormous pressure caused during the collision process of
two treat land masses. Because of the tremendous stress during the
process, several faults were formed throughout Nepal. The Sunkoshi
criss-crosses one of these faults and the formations visible today
This afternoon lunch-spot is on a beach in a oxbow
section of the river.
You continue through a maze of interesting rock
formation. To the observer they are a bewildering example of complex
and dynamic of nature. They may seem lifeless just as other ordinary
rocks, but they record untold history of the earth.
The white water picks up today. Near the village
of Harkapur you encounter the largest rapids of the trip. They rate
between 5 to 8; later camp near the confluence of the Dudhkoshi
The next day the river widens below the Dudhkoshi
and flows through a broad valley. Fans of sand gravel spill into
the river form side canyons. Further on the Sunkoshi bend south
and cuts through the Mahabharat range. The topography changes. The
steep hills are now behind and the area is more gentle. A number
of small rapids rating between 3 to 5 class are encountered. Along
the route many trails and suspension bridges are visible, which
are indicative of the porterage still being the most important means
of carrying goods. Later camp near the Rasuwa Khola.
The seventh day you enter tropical vegetation.
The river narrows into a gorge linked by thick forest. Broad leaf
trees, ferns, mosses, bamboo and creepers canopy the river banks.
During the windbreak you can shower under a beautiful waterfall.
It is a photographer's paradise.
One of the advantages of a long river trip is
that it offers a pleasing diversity of things within a short span
of time. In this trip you have 250 different species of orchids
to look for. River chats, dippers, flycatcher, isibias, wall creepers,
bulbuls, forktales, ibisbills are a few of the almost 400 species
of birds available around the basin. Camp on a broach beach bordered
by waterfall four hundred feet high. The beaches on the lower section
are covered with deposits of mica.
The next day you pass several important ghats.
A ghat is a river bank particularly used for religious and cultural
purposes by the Hindus in particular. Religious ceremonies and cremation
are common activities that take place at a ghat. Relatively more
Rais and Limbus are seen in this area. Tonight camp at the confluence
of the three main rivers of the eastern Nepal. The junction is called
Tribenighat where the Arun and Tamor join the Sunkoshi to form the
giant Saptakoshi which flows through Mahabharat range onto the Gangetic
Below Tribenighat is Barah Kshretra, a famous
Hindu pilgrimage. You stop by this temple on the ninth day. During
the full moon in January, thousands of Hindus gather at the temple
to worship. According to legend, a demon god who resided there during
prehistoric time was such a nuisance to people that Vishnu, the
Lord Preserver was force to descend from heaven in the guise of
a pig to kill him. Every year pilgrims visit the temple to celebrate
lord Vishnu's victory over the demon god.
With today's lunch at Chatara, the Sunkoshi trip
comes to a end. The crew members dismantle the gear. It is a 45
minute drive though tall woods and open field to Dharan, which use
to be British Gurkha Army recruiting center in Nepal for decades.
The tenth day is a return to Kathmandu. You can
choose either by flight or by road. The trip requires, however,
taking a mini trek to reach Kartikeghat either from the airstrip
or the bus stop. It takes one hour's flight to Tumlingtar. If the
Tumlingtar flight is scheduled in the afternoon, the first day camp
will be put up at Tumlingtar itself. The afternoon could spent visiting
the tiny village with small tea-shops and the air-strip.
The Trishuli being the most easily accessible
river by far a trip on this river can be made for a varied duration,
depending upon the availability of time and interest. A brief account
on a common Trishuli trip is presented below:
A drive to the west for about two hours from Kathmandu
takes you to the village of Baireni. After arrival in the village
you can explore a small Hindu temple while the crew members gear
the gear. The intricate woodcarvings about the windows and the doors
of the temple are worth looking at.
The first day on the river is a leisurely scenic
introduction to river life. There are several rapids but they only
foreshadow at what is to come. Over 250 species of birds, including
ibisbills, wall creepers, scarlet minivets lapwings and kingfishers
are found about the river. Today's camp will be near the village
The second day is a scenic kaleidoscope; grain
fields and villages dot the surrounding hills, thick stands of forest
alternate with cultivated areas while scenes of river side life
complete the image. The terraced hillsides give the feeling of a
tenacious people carrying on an age old ritual.
Just above the confluence of the Burigandaki (which
drains the area between Ganesh Himal and Manaslu) waits you a difficult
rapid, Tindevi, (Three goddnesses) named after three large holes
or drops, in the rapid. This evening's camp will be near the village
Shortly after leaving camp, you hit white water
on one of the most exciting and accessible stretches of river in
the world. A rapid called Upset, very thrilling but difficult one
to handle is encountered here. A few more high class rapids are
encountered during the day.
Of all the scenic variety you encounter, topography
is one of the dynamic. The hills have lost their gentle appearance
by now. A narrow gorge is entered where steep canyon walls and huge
boulders dominate the scenery.
The trip can be ended at Kuringhat, a small and
picturesque village. Once the gear is dismantled, begins the return
trip to Kathmandu which takes about four hours. The trip can however,
be continued as far as Royal Chitwan National Park, depending upon
your time and choice.
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