Kayaking in Nepal – Some serious fun

It was one of the best experiences I had that continued for 4 days unlike many other adventures that last only few hours. Yes, I am talking about my experience of Kayaking in Nepal this year. I paddle river Trisuli being relatively new to this sport. But I am determined to go back to Nepal to kayak in more than one river this time as it has got a lot to offer. It’s was one of the best holiday where we were staying in camp site and had proper meal for three times with snacks in between. All we had to do was have breakfast and go for kayaking, take a break for lunch and then paddle again for few hours and come back for evening tea. Then we played volleyball with the locals and then get ready for delicious dinner. It couldn’t have been better as all we had to do was lots of adventure all day. Nepal is one of the best and cheap places to kayak with some of the world’s best rivers. Nepal has got a lot to offer from hiking to paragliding, kayaking to rafting and so much more. I can’t wait to go back to do more of everything. I would give you some overview of the various rivers that you can run in Nepal. You can hire all the gears and the kayak there only so no need to pack everything from home with you. But some essentials would be good to have:

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Gears required: Kayak, life jacket, helmet, wetsuit, dry bags for gears, tent (if you are camping on the way to the final destination), and personal gear bag

Items that you would need for camping (minimum requirement): Sleeping bag, light weight pants, a fleece style jacket, toiletries, light weight sleeved t-shirt, spare glasses, water bottle, long sleeved thermal top and bottoms, light weight hiking boots, toilet paper and lighter, day pack (depending whether you are hiking to get to the river trip or not). If you are planning to kayak on your own then you might also have to carry the gears mentioned above with meal and cooking utensils.

Items to carry with you in the river: Sunscreen, sunglasses, shorts, swimwear, river sandals (they are handy when you have to walk in shallow water on the rocks holding your kayak),

Courses: If you are new to Kayaking then you can start with ‘Beginner Kayak Clinic’ course that usually is for 4 days. Otherwise Intermediate and Advanced Kayak Courses are also available here for more experienced paddlers.

 Cost: It can cost you around 35 USD to 50 USD per day for food, accommodation and gears, depending upon which river you are paddling. It is good to ask the rates from different tour operators decide according to your budget. Sometimes they also include transport to and from the destination so make sure to ask them beforehand as it’s a long way to get to the camp site sometimes. We got free transport from Pokhara to the camp site and then after we finish the course they dropped us to Kathmandu for free which was our next destination as Trisuli river is same distance both from Kathmandu and Pokhara.

 Tour Operators: This is one of the main sources of income in Nepal so there are many tour companies that are involved in this business. Here are links for some of them although once you are there it’s better to check out their shop and have a chat as that will give you more confidence with the people and their services.

 Before I start talking about various Rivers in Nepal, here is the definition of various grades of rapids in White Water Rivers:

  • Grade I – Flat water, No rapids
  • Grade II – Bubbling current, small rapids
  • GradeIII – More technical and require more expertise
  • Grade IV & V – Seriously big rapids. Require some kayaking experience and confidence in water since there are possibilities of getting stuck in the whirlpool if the kayak flips or can’t control the direction of kayak
  • Grade VI – Not run by the tour companies due to the serious risk involved


  1. Trisuli – It is great for beginners or good for experienced paddlers to warm up before they go for other rivers. It is easily accessible from Kathmandu as well as Pokhara. This river swells enormously during the monsoon season and that time it is one of the most challenging and dangerous river to paddle.                                                               Duration: 1 – 3 Days, Distance: 60 kilometers Trisuli
  2. Seti – This River is again divided into Lower Seti and Upper Seti. Lower Seti is great for families due to its calm and relaxing water and gentle rapids, whereas Upper Seti is good for intermediate Kayakers. This river Seti has plenty of grades I – III rapids and it provides a scenic view of the valley, forests and a nice white sandy beach.              Duration: 1/2 – 2 Days, Distance: 32 kilometers, Grade: I – IIISeti
  3. Bhote Kosi – This River is great for continuous rapids of grade IV and V at high flow and grade III at lower flows. It is very close to Kathmandu hence easily accessible. Not long but full of fun and adventure and also provide a scenic view of the surroundings. People do get a chance to feel being in a washing machine in the river and have couple of swims generally until unless you are really good with kayaking. This is a perfect river for a roller coaster ride because of the drops it provides. This goes near Tibet border.                                                                                 Duration: 1 – 2 Days, Distance: 22 kilometers Bhote Kosi
  4. Kali Gandaki – Great for fun and also known as the Holy River, Kali is known to be named after the Hindu goddess for destruction. It is flowing between Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain range and takes you to the deepest point. It provides grade III, IV and V grade challenging rapids where more techniques will be required. Like other rivers, this river also gives you a closer view of the beautiful wildlife.                                                                           Duration: 3 Days, Distance: 90 kilometers, Grade: III – VKali Gandaki
  5. Marshyandi – This river is some serious fun and requires some skills to go down on it is one of the best white water river that runs in the world. It provides rapids with IV and V grades and require discipline to really get through them as it has many technical and steep rapids throughout the stretch.                                                                             Duration: 3 – 5 Days, Distance – 27 kilometers, Grade: IV – VMarshyandi
  6. Sun Kosi – Longest river trip with a stretch of almost 270 Kilometer, Sun Kosi is almost 3 hours drive from Kathmandu.  It is also known as one of the top 10 rivers in the world to paddle. It provides breath-taking scenery all along the way. It has rapids of all grades from II to V. By the time you run this river you can cover from Tibetan border to North Indian plains.                                                                                                                                                              Duration: 8 – 10 Days, Distance: 270 kilometers, Grade: III – VSun Kosi
  7. Karnali – This river has earned a lot of respect for being the mightiest river in Nepal. It gives you a fulfillment to run this river as it has everything for a kayaker from various range of rapids to technical steep drops. It does give you a reason to boast about your kayaking skills once you have paddled this river. It is also one of the top 10 rivers in the world to paddle. It has rapids from grade III to V+.                                                                                      Duration: 8 – 10 Days, Distance: 180 kilometers, Grade: III – V+Karnali
  8. Tamur – Not so commercial, this river provides exceptionally challenging white-water rapids. With beautiful view of the gorge it passes through the secluded beaches and wilderness in Nepal. There are towering canyons around this river that makes it more challenging during the first 16 kilometres with high grade rapids.                         Duration: 11 Days, Distance: 120 kilometers, Grade: III – IVTamur
  9. Bheri – This is more over for family trips with amazing scenery and easy rapids of grade II to III.                    Duration: 4 days Distance: 105 kilometers, Grade: II – III