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A Complete Guide to Nepal's Rivers

Our Himalayan Rivers and Ratings page will tell you what's running and when.

Seasons & Ratings
Arun River Trip
Bheri River Trip
Bhote Kosi
Kali Gandaki River Trip
Seti Khola River Trip
Sun Kosi River Trip
Trishuli River Trip

seasons & ratings

River Days Fall Class Spring Class
Arun 3 Nov-Apr IV-
Bheri 6 to 10 Oct-Dec II to III+ Feb-Mar II to III+
Bhote Kosi 2 Oct-Dec III to V Feb-May III to IV
Kali Gandaki 3 or 4 Sep-Nov III to IV+ Feb-May III to IV
Karnali 12 Sep-Nov III to V Feb-May III to IV
Marsyangdi 6 Oct-Dec IV to V Feb-Apr IV+
Seti Khola 2 to 3 Oct -Apr III to IV+
Sun Kosi 8 or 9 Sep-Nov III+ to V- June III to IV+
Tamur 11 Oct-Dec III to V Mar-Apr III to IV+
Trishuli 2 Year Round III / Jun to Aug IV (Monsoon)
Select any river above to see details.

arun river trip - (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.

bheri river trip

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 at Kuine.

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 from Chisapani.

bhote kosi

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.

kaligandaki river trip - (Modibeni to Narayanghat)

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 Chhisti.

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.

seti khola river trip - (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.

sunkoshi river trip - (Dolalghat to Chatara)

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 of Khurkot.

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 are extraordinary.

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 (Milk river)

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 plain.

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.

trishuli river trip - (Baireni to Kuringhat)

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 of Gajuri.

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 of Charaundi.

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.

related topics
Rafting Reference
Rafting Seasons
Adventure in Nepal
Rivers & Ratings
Nepal Association of Rafting Agents
Biking in Nepal

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