Sun Koshi River Rafting

Sun Koshi River Rafting

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This is the longest river trip offered in Nepal, carving through the beautiful Mahabharat range on its  meandering way from the ‘put in’ to the ‘take out’ at Chatra, far down on the Gangetic Plain. The medium to high flows with big bouncy grade III-IV rapids and lots of friendly holes and waves to surf makes it a brilliant river to raft in.

Grade :  III+/IV Put in Point :  Dolalghat
Put out Point :  Chahara Distance :  290Km
Duration :  12 Days Best Seasions :  Apr-May&Sep-Nov

This is the longest river trip offered in Nepal, carving through the beautiful Mahabharat range on its  meandering way from the ‘put in’ to the ‘take out’ at Chatra, far down on the Gangetic Plain. The medium to high flows with big bouncy grade III-IV rapids and lots of friendly holes and waves to surf makes it a brilliant river to raft in.

Originating near Mount Shisha Pangma in Tibet, the Sun Koshi which if translated in English means the ‘River of Gold’ runs eastward through Nepal draining most of the eastern portion of the Himalayas. From the put-in at Dolalghat to the take-out at Chatra in far-eastern Nepal, the warm water of the Sun Kosi surges, snakes and winds its way through 270km of some of Nepal's remotest countryside. At the right flow this river journey is an incredible combination of exhilarating whitewater, beautiful scenery and glorious evenings on white sandy beaches. It is truly breathtaking, and backed by its popularity is considered by many to be one of the world's 10 classic river journeys.

It’s quite an experience to begin a river trip, barely 60 kms from the Tibetan border, and end the trip looking down the hot, dusty gun barrel of the North India Plain just 8 days later.

During the monsoon season though, the river is high and wild, and definitely not for the fainthearted. Swept along by the pulsing waters, maneuvering through boiling narrow channels and dodging obstacles, the river dances through corridors of lush forest  then accelerate through leaping waves and roaring drops. There are dozens of adrenalin pumping rapids, as well as miles of calmer water to relax, reflect on the beauty of this remote area totally unwind. 

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Day 01: After an early breakfast in Kathmandu, we board our private bus and drive towards Dolaghat, our rafting put in point. As we drive towards the river on a clear day the views of the Himalayas and Everest are amazing! At the put in point, we inflate the rafts, make a sumptuous lunch and prepare the rafts for our journey down the Sun Kosi! Just remember the amount of time the guides spend tying the gear onto the rafts is directly proportional to the size of the rapids.... We leave the nearby roads and with all our gear on board we are entering into one of the Ten Most Classic River Journeys in the World! Below the suspension bridge at Dobhan Tarr the river enters a small beautiful canyon with waterfalls and lush tropical growth. Kuseshwar Mandhir is a Shiva temple situated amongst large banyan and pipal trees at the confluence of the Roshi River. It’s a great place to wander around and perhaps collect the blessing of a local priest for the river journey.

Days 4-10: A raft trip down the Sun Kosi 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 explain 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 exhilarating lines safely and confidently. Your guide is a professional who has dedicated their life to learning and running Whitewater Rivers. Under his or her careful indoctrination the raft crew learns to work as a team, practicing on the numerous smaller rapids we encounter on the first 2 days of the trip. By the time we get to the really big rapids, with names like Meat Grinder, High Anxiety and Harkapur, the crews will be working together with the precision of a Bangkok nightclub act.

It’s a good thing too, because the first time you line up above a big water Class 4 rapid you’re not going to believe what you see, hear and feel! The water above a rapid is as soothing and quiet as a children’s story, and it’s not until you look down into the churning digesting, gut twisting white abyss that you realize the story is written by brothers grim! Gravity seems like a seductive and cruel mistress, pulling us into something we want. Most people find that time slows down and fear vanishes, replaced by primal resignation and a sharpening of all senses to a point usually only attained through an automobile crash. The heart-shaking roar of whitewater becomes dim, like a background symphony heard through the cheap paper walls of some sleazy budget hotel.

River trips are much more than gravity powered roller coaster rides, they are incredible journeys taken on the most magical highways in the world. From Dologhat, we have 270 blissfully motor free kilometres before we hit the next road. 270 kilometres of living for no other purpose than to see how much fun we can have. Life is reduced to eat, sleep and play. In accomplishing these things, you’ll be amazed at how much you can learn, and more importantly, how much you’ll forget. In no time at all the amalgamation of all your concerns will seem distant, unimportant and eventually, unworthy of your attention. It is our goal to breed irresponsibility and slothfulness in all people!

Most of the rapids on the Sun Kosi are formed by monsoon debris brought in by side streams and loose rockfall. These rapids change from year to year depending on the severity of the monsoon rains. After stopping at Tokshel Harkapur and spending time there checking out this porter town we drift down to a rapid called Harkapur 2. Pulling over to the left to camp for the evening it is interesting to go down and look at the rapid and contemplate the start of the next day. Harkapur 2 becomes the main topic of conversation that night. There is a large rockfall on the right and the river is further constricted on the left by a huge mudslide! Boulders from the mudslide have washed into the middle of the rapid forming large ledge drops and holes. Harkapur 2 is always an interesting rapid and there is plenty more to come. A few kilometres downstream watch out for the famous Dudh Kosi, the river of milk, which tumbles down from Mount Everest. We recommend a sacrificial swimmer out of the raft here to appease the Gods. The Dudh Kosi is a lot cooler than the Sun Kosi. Below the suspension bridge is a small rapid that is followed by Jaws, then Dead Man’s Eddy. Sculptured into the rock on the left side of the river is a huge eddy that has a dubious reputation of collecting most things that float downstream!

The jungle corridor is an outrageous section of rapids in a hard rock canyon with tropical forest right down to the river. At the end of the jungle corridor, a series of waterfalls cascade in from both banks so keep your soap and shampoo (biodegradable of course) handy for a really refreshing shower. Camping on the Sun Kosi is awesome. The massive floods of the monsoon deposit huge tracks of pure white sand, which are ideal to camp on. We will have at least one layover day where we stay at the same camp for 2 nights. Hello Beach Party! Volleyball and Sculpture, hacky sack Frisbee, sun bathing and eating are favourite activities for a layover day. You can also take advantage of the layover day to trek to a nearby peak or village or take part in the kayak workshop the safety kayaker’s offer.
Day 11: The last big rapid of the trip is called Big Dipper. Tie your shorts on well cause the other name for the rapid is Quick Stripper. I think you get the picture. If we all make it through this one with our dignity intact, it’s a quiet cruise down the confluence with the Arun and Tamur and the beginning of the Sapta Kosi or the Seven Rivers. The confluence is called Tribeni Ghat and has an interesting temple to visit. Before emerging onto the flatland terai, there is another larger Hindi Temple called Baraha Chhetra. Every year in January, on the day of the full moon, thousands of Hindu pilgrims mass here to pay homage to Lord Vishnu. Legend has it that once a demon god inhabited this area and troubled the villagers, holy men and pilgrims. Hearing of this, Lord Vishnu, preserver of the universe, took the form of a pig and slayed the demon in battle. Inside the temple is a pig headed figure of Lord Vishnu, and the annual Braha festival commemorates the victory. Just a little further downstream lies India and all its semi functional chaos. By afternoon we have reached the take out and all the expedition equipment is cleaned, broken down and laid out in the sun to dry, then loaded on top of our private bus. Transfer 2 hours to Biratnagar and fly back to Kathmandu. The mountain views on a clear day are outstanding as the flight goes right along the main Himalayas.
Day 12: After a rather leisurely breakfast and chat about the trip we take you back to the airport for your return flight.

Days 11-13 (Optional):  Staying at the luxurious Tiger Tops Camp is a great way to finish off your trip. Set in the heart of the Royal Chitwan National Park you have some fantastic opportunities to see the prolific bird life, not to mention occasional sightings of the Royal Bengal Tiger, elephants 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 thirteen we transfer you to Meghauly Airport (about 2 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!!!


Trip Cost Includes

-All ground transportation; to the put in point and back from the take out point.
-All domestic airfares wherever stated in the itinerary.
-All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) during the trip
-Accommodation on a twin sharing basis with camp fire.
-All International standard rafting equipment as necessary (such as self bailing rafts, helmets, life jackets, kayaks, plastic paddles and spray jackets etc.)
-Camping & Cooking equipment (tents, mattress & kitchen gear).
-Rafting guides, cooks, and other helping staff, their salary, insurance, meals etc.
-All necessary fees, government/local taxes, all national park and conservation area fees.

Trip Cost Excludes

-Mineral water, cold drinks and alcoholic beverages
-Emergency evacuation
-Things of personal use
-Airfare (Kathmandu-Biratnagar-Kathmandu
-Tips to Staff

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