Nepal has taken off as one of the world’s leading destinations for recreational kayaking, and is recognized as one of the best countries for whitewater multi-day trips. There are rivers for all abilities, including beginners.
Most visiting kayakers start by booking on a rafting trip for a warm-up – often on the Sun Koshi or Kali Gandaki rivers. If you book on as a kayaker, the rafting company will normally provide you free use of a kayak as part of the deal, or give you a discount of around $10 a day if you have your own boat. If you’re thinking of bringing your own kayak, talk to others who’ve visited Nepal recently, as some have ended up paying high excess-baggage charges on the way back. There’s a wide selection of modern kayaks available for rent at around $25 a day in both Kathmandu and Pokhara – the latter has become quite a thriving centre for kayakers, with an excellent rental outlet, Ganesh Kayak Shop. You’ll need to leave a passport or a significant cash deposit. Kayak guides can be hired for around $20 a day. It’s worth bringing all your own kayaking gear with you, but this is also available for rent if necessary.
Kayak schools are a recent development in Nepal, mostly operating out of Pokhara and offering a half-day introduction on Phewa Tal and another four-days’ practice and paddling on the nearby Seti, with rafting support. The Seti is warmed by geothermal springs, making it a very pleasant place to practice rolling. Other kayak schools operate out of the riverside resorts on the Bhote Koshi and Upper Sun Koshi rivers, not far from Kathmandu. Typical prices for a five-day course start at around $300, which includes tuition, gear, food, transport, raft support and camping – that’s great value.
While not so popular, another conveyance for enjoying Nepal’s whitewater is the hydrospeed, a sort of boogie board for swimming down rivers. Pokhara’s Ganesh Kayak Shop rents out hydrospeeds with wetsuits and helmets for $20 a day. It also rents out inflatable canoes (known as “duckies”) and catarafts for those planning a do-it-yourself trip.
This chapter was updated with the assistance of David Allardice.