As Recommended by Lonely Planet

Karnali White Water Rafting

Trip Title: Karnali White Water Rafting

Trip Length: 11 Days

Trip Grade: B       [Grading Overview]

Country: Nepal

Area: Nepal Rivers

National Park: Bardia       [Parks Overview]

Activity: Rafting

Activity Grade: 3-5       [Grading Overview]

Special Focus: White Water Rafting

Months: March, April, May, September, October, November, December,

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The Karnali, Nepals mightiest river, descends through the Himalayas in a series of magnificent gorges. In traditional Nepalese fashion, dozens of porters carry our equipment to the river. Exceptional big volume rafting through tropical jungle, deserted beaches and small villages.Optional 3 day Safari Extension Tiger Tops Wildlife Resort in Royal Bhardia National Park: Enjoy a unique wildlife, cultural and adventure experience. We use Temple Tiger Lodge or Island Jungle Resort in Chitwan and Tiger Tops Karnali Lodge & Tented Camp in Bhardia. Both destinations offer comfortable and high class accommodation and facilities together with a wide variety of activities to enhance the chance of viewing wildlife and appreciation of the jungle. Within the parks are a network of wildlife trails along which, accompanied by experienced naturalists and wildlife trackers, one can explore the area. Activities include early morning and pre-dusk elephant safaris to remote regions of the parks providing very good opportunities of viewing many species of wildlife including the One Horned Rhinoceros, the Royal Bengal Tiger, leopard, blue bull, swamp deer, spotted deer, guarial crocodile, and over 500 species of birds.


Remember if you have a group of 6 or more we can arrange this trip for you on your prefered date during any of the available months listed.

Karnali Rafting Itinerary

Day 1 and 2:
After a hearty breakfast it’s time to head off to Neplagang out in Nepal’s “Wild West” on our chartered bus and stay the night. From Nepalgang we board bus and head off for 4 hours of action packed transportation thrills. We stop for rest breaks, and the scenery as we traverse the Terai is varied and splendid as we climb up the Churia Hills. The true test of a river guide is their ability to make bus rides not only bearable, but outright fun. Ours succeed brilliantly. At Kalyant our Sirdhar (head porter) shows up with a tough looking crew who will carry all the expedition gear the short walk to the river. Gear is divided up, prices haggled, and these stouthearted men and boys then pick up loads with their necks, and head down the trail. It’s quite a sight to watch a 60-kilo man in his mid thirties trudge along a mountain trail with a 70-kilo raft hanging off a strap which runs across his forehead. It’s enough to make you want to join a health club. This part of Nepal sees very little tourism and the villages and farms you see along the trail are much the way rural Nepal has been for hundreds of years.

By midday we reach the Karnali River and rig the rafts, and drift off downstream a short distance to the first nights camp.

Days 3 – 9:
A raft trip down the Karnali isn’t just a vacation… it’s an education. Our river guides spend the first part of the morning explaining the finer points on how to paddle through whitewater and stay in the raft as it bucks and contorts through 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 to keep your head up and your feet to push off rocks or pesky kayakers who happen to be surfing in the middle of a rapid. The guides will also teach you what they look out for when they run a river, the innocuous looking rise in the water that hides a hole, or the way you can use a 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 challenging lines safely and confidently. Your guide is a professional, someone who has devoted their life to learning and running rivers. Under his or her careful indoctrination the raft crew learns how to work as a team, practicing on the numerous smaller rapids we encounter on the first two days of the river. By the time we get to the really big rapids, the crews will be more than prepared. Even though this is a challenging river, the natural progression of rapids actually makes it an ideal trip even for first time rafters.

Camping on the Karnali is awesome. The massive floods of the monsoon deposit huge tracks of pure white sand along the river which are ideal to camp on. When the local Nepalese living in the area do manage to find one of our campsites, the rewards are mutual. Imagine a grizzled old man carrying a Kukhri knife, small satchel, and a 150 year old flint lock rifle walking along a beach he has walked along a dozen times before in his constant ramblings for food. Then one day he steps onto the beach and there, sprawled out across the sand, are three rafts, a half dozen brightly colored plastic kayaks, and the whitest people he has ever seen in his life. From the Iron Age to the Space Age in a few feet of sand…It’s like being five years old and the circus comes to town. Puzzlement quickly gives way to curiosity as the bright colors and friendly faces of the river camp make him welcome. We are just as amazed and impressed by his life as a hunter-gatherer as he is by our incredible assortment of high-tech river gear and loaded food barrels.

We will have at least one layover day where we stay at the same river camp for two nights. HELLO BEACH PARTY!!! Volleyball, sand sculpture, foot bag, frisbee, sun bathing, eating or just relaxing are favorite activities for the layover day. You can also take advantage of the layover day to trek to a peak or nearby village, or take part in the kayak workshop the safety boaters offer. Several of the beaches we camp at offer waterfalls or mud baths, and if you’re into fishing, the Karnali offers some of the best fishing in Nepal. If you’re an avid fisherman, be sure to bring your kit along – you won’t be disappointed.

The most sustained challenging section of the river begins with God’s House, and continues in a series of canyons for about seven kilometers and 16 odd rapids. This is what we are all here for – it’s a real “thrill and minute roller-coaster ride” with rapids on every bend. The whole river narrows down into the bowels of the earth and we run such classic drops as Juicer, Flip and Strip, Totali Ghat, Snapshot and Freight Train before stopping at a sweeping sandy beach for the night. Below here contorted sandstone cliffs tower on either side as we continue through the Red Rock Canyon and still more rapids.

The confluence of the Seti river means that we’re past the major rapids on the Karnali. The lower section of the Karnali is home to fresh water dolphins, marsh mugger crocodiles and gaurials, the giant fish eating crocodiles with the long, graceful jaws. After days of whitewater it’s nice to take a rest and watch the scenery pass.

Day 10:
From our last campsite nestled in the rock formations of the lower canyon we drift down to Chisopani, the first town we’ve seen for ten days. Chisopani isn’t much of a town, basically just a couple of dahl baht shops and a damn impressive bridge, but even so it’s hard to get re-accustomed to the sounds of civilization. After eight days without any motors, car horns, or screaming children, even a little town like Chisopani serves to remind us just how quiet the last eight days have been. Most people want to crawl back up the river at this point. But alas, the river only flows one way, so from Chisopani we transfer to Nepalgang and our hotel.

Day 11:
The bus journey back to Kathmandu.

Days – 10 – 12 (Safari option):
Staying at the luxurious Tiger Tops Lodge and Camp is a great way to finish off your trip. Set in the heart of the Royal Bardiya National Park you have some fantastic opportunities to see the prolific bird life, not to mention occasional sightings of the Royal Bengal Tiger, rhinos and an amazing array of other wildlife. Naturalists are on hand with their seemingly endless supply of knowledge to answer your queries regarding all the species of animal in the park. The lodge is made entirely of local materials and blends in beautifully with the environment. There is a range of activities to enjoy from elephant safaris to jungle walks, to just plain old relaxing in the serene surroundings of the Lodge. Meals are all-inclusive and are a wonderful combination of Western and Nepali dishes. Accommodation is in spacious safari tents with twin beds and separate hot and cold showers. Since you do have to book in advance we strongly recommend that you try and think how you will feel at the end of the river journey and decide if returning to Kathmandu will really be the option that you will want! On day twelve we transfer you to Nepalgang Airport (about 1 ½ hours away) where you will meet with your return flight to Kathmandu. That afternoon we suggest that you spend some time doing some well deserved retail therapy. A group farewell dinner is always welcomed and it is a final chance to relive the previous two weeks with people that do believe you when you explain just how big that rapid was!!!


610 per person (KTM-Raft-KTM only with bus transport – Hotels and internal flights arranged on request).

Cost includes: All meals, bus transportation to the put in point and back from the take out point, all rafting equipment and accommodation on twin sharing basis.

Cost does not include: Sleeping bag/ mattress, alcoholic beverages, personal expenses and insurance.

Tiger Tops in Royal Bardia National Park

3 Days – Cost 340 – Single Supplement 145

Flights from Nepalgung to Kathmandu inclusive of airport transfers costs

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