Asia | Nepal | Kathmandu Valley | Kathmandu – Kathmandu, Nepal – part 1
I made it to Nepal. I’ve been here for about three weeks already and love it here. This place, the people, the culture, it’s so different from all other places in SE-Asia (I’ve seen so far) – it’s been a fantastic experience so far.
Yesterday morning I just got back (in Kathmandu) from a 12 day rafting trip on the Karnali River in Western Nepal. It was an amazing experience – the best trip of my life. Nepal has got many raftable rivers, but I chose to book a trip on the Karnali river for its remoteness and the length of the trip.
The group I was in was great: 11 travellers from Canada, England, the States and Denmark, 6 young Nepalese guides would be there for us for 12 days. Four days of the whole trip were involved with actually getting to the river. The first day we spent in the bus. We slept on the rooftop of a guesthouse in a small village, before we drove for another half a day, as far as the road could take us. We put up camp and stayed right there for the night.
Two days of trekking were ahead of us, since there are no roads coming anywhere close to the river in that area. It was a tough hike, the sun was beating down on us, we had to cross a couple of big hills with some very steep parts. Everything was pretty dry and dusty and we had no lake, river or water supply to wash up and cool down a bit after the first day of trekking. We were in no position to even think we were having a hard time though, because all we had to carry were our own waterbottles and cameras. About 25 porters from the local villages carried all our rafting and camping equipment, 10 day food supplies and personal gear for two days to the river. And I wouldn’t want to swap with these porters, some carrying about 30kg on their heads… I had trouble even lifting their load off the ground.
The trekking was a nice part of the whole trip though. By the time we got to see the river we felt we’d achieved something already and this way we had the team spirit going before we even inflated the rafts.
So that night we camped our first night at a beach at the Karnali River, Nepal’s biggest river, coming down in the Himalayas. And we were getting all excited about rafting down this river for the next 6 days.
The following days on the river were fantastic. For 180 km we rafted down the Karnali, seeing no other rafting companies or tourists at all. There were three rafts on our trip – the 11 of us in two rafts, accompanied by one or two guides, two guide rafters to drive the gear raft with supplies and equipment. And Tarka, our leader and safety kayaker. He would always go in front to scout the rapids and be there to rescue anyone who’d flip overboard. I must say I was very impressed by their professionalism.
At one point, during our second day of rafting, we were going down this rapid called ‘Human for Lunch’. I was sitting in the left front of the raft, big waves and white water all around us, and all of a sudden I was looking into this huge hole (as they are called: Big holes can be dangerous because they tend to suck you under water – and sometimes even keep you there). Our guide was yelling ‘Right back [paddle]!, right back!’ but we failed to follow his command. I guess we were all looking at what we were going staight into, holding on to the raft and thinking ‘oh, shit’…