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Kali Gandaki River Rafting

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The Holy River ~ Kali Gandaki (3 days)

Rapids : Little brother, Big brother, Wake & Bake, Good Morning Cobra, Walk in the dark.

Named after the Hindu goddess of destruction, Kali, the river rises in Mustang, on the northern side of the Himalaya.  As it tumbles down between the majestic Daulagiri and the Annapurna ranges, it creates one of the world's deepest river canyons. The Kali Gandaki is a terrific medium length river journey, combining great whitewater with some of the prettiest scenery in Nepal, seldom-visited villages, truly quiet and introspective evenings, abundant wildlife, sandy beaches and outrageously beautiful waterfalls. The rapids on the Kali Gandaki are much more technical and continuous keeping paddlers busy all day. Both experienced and novice rafters love this.

Being one of the holiest rivers in Nepal, every river junction on the Kali Gandaki is dotted with cremation sites and above ground burial mounds.  If you've been wondering what's under that pile of rocks, we recommend against exploring. 

Please note that there will be a pre-departure meeting at our office in Pokhara, the day before departure at 6 PM.  This is a chance to get the group together over a drink and discuss the Kali Gandaki expedition.  At the meeting you have a chance to meet some of the guides and we can answer any final queries, give out personal gear bags and collect money for the beer kitty.  Afterwards we will probably all wander to a nearby restaurant for a relaxed meal. 


Days 1-2

From Pokhara we take a chartered bus out of town and up through the foothills of the Annapurna Mountains.  The views from the bus are fantastic.  The road winds and twists through the mountains as we work our way to the town of Baglung, the nearest point of civilization to where we begin our river journey.  The private bus ride takes about 2-3 hours.  Once at the river, the guides inflate the rafts, prepare lunch, and give a safety talk.  The guides then tie all the equipment into the rafts, which is quite a site to witness. Nine years of running rivers has taught us a lot, not the least of which is how to tie a load so it stays put no matter what.  After lunch we push off into the current leaving roads behind for the next 3 days. 

A raft trip down the Kali Gandaki isn't just a vacation it is an education.  Our river guides spend the first part of the afternoon explaining the finer points of how to paddle through whitewater and stay in the raft as it bucks and contorts through the rapids.  For those who missed a point in the previous lesson, there is a lesson on how to swim through whitewater, using your flotation device and paddle to keep your head up and your feet to push off rocks.  The guides will also teach you what they are looking for when they run the river— the innocuous looking rise in the water that hides a hole, or the way you can use the pillow of water rebounding off a rock to push the raft where you want it.   Whitewater rafts are amazingly versatile and stable crafts, and in the care of an expert raft guide it is possible to run exhilarating lines safely and confidently.  Your guide is a professional, someone who has devoted their life to learning and running whitewater rivers.  Under his or her careful indoctrination the raft crew learns how to work as a team, practicing on the smaller rapids we encounter on the first kilometer of the river.  Teamwork is what makes it possible to run any river safely, and this extends beyond your raft.  All the rafts and safety kayakers work as a team, communicating with and supporting each other – it's impressive to watch.  You are never in a rapid alone.  By the time we get to the harder rapids, with names like Goodmorning Cobra, Wake and Bake, and Walk in the Dark, the crews will be working together with exquisite timing and precision.  Just after running Little Brother and Big Brother the Modi Khola tumbles down from the Annapurna Base Camp into the Kali Gandaki.  At the right levels any expert kayakers could consider paddling this tributary and meeting up with the group at the first night's camp.

Below the Modi the river swings south through an area where tourists are almost unknown and our journey begins in earnest.  Your education doesn't stop with rafting either. Being Kali's river (Hindu goddess of Destruction) the Kali Gandaki is one of the holiest rivers in Nepal.  All along the river are sacred cremation beaches where the Nepalese bring the dead for burning, performing rituals and prayers as they send the deceased into the next life.

The Kali Gandaki offers some of the finest scenery in Nepal.  On a clear day the Annapurna Mountains hang over the river valley.  Peaks with names like Annapurna South, Himchuli and Machapuchare dwarf our expedition as we descend into one of the deepest river gorges on Earth.  From the moment we put in it is 3 days before another road crosses the river.  It's all up to us from here on out.

Nowhere else is it possible to find such diversity on a 3 day raft trip.  The rapids are fun and demanding, but they are only a small part of the rafting experience.  Wildlife, wonderful sandy beaches, sacred temples devoted to Kali, picturesque villages and outrageous waterfalls all combine to make the Kali Gandaki a fantastic river journey.


The last day finishes with a bang, as it gives us the biggest rapids of the whole trip.  In addition to being the biggest, they're also the cleanest, and we can use the skills we've developed over the last two days to run tighter, more challenging lines.  Who knows, we might even get to go swimming.

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Client Reviews Write a Review

Ajaya Bajracharya

this is wonderful, experience trip

Pre-Trip Information