A fairly sophisticated river-running industry exists in Nepal, with dozens of Nepali and Western-associated rafting operators offering both scheduled and customized trips. Unless you’re an experienced kayaker or are on some sort of a self-organized expedition, you’ll go with one of these companies. The standards of most operators exceed international guidelines, but you get what you pay for, and Nepal has its share of sub-standard companies, too.
Booking with an agency in your own country is more expensive, but it guarantees arrangements – and in high season the best trips are fully booked months in advance. Some of the cut-price outfits in Kathmandu and Pokhara aren’t bad, but making recommendations would be misleading – companies come and go, and standards rise and fall from one season to the next. Shop around, and press operators hard as regards the criteria given below. Only use a company belonging to the Nepal Association of Rafting Agents, a trade body that sets safety standards, requires its members to employ only trained and licensed guides, and handles complaints.
Many places advertising rafting trips are merely agents, who usually don’t know what they’re talking about and who will add their own commission (low or high) to the operator’s price, so you’re strongly advised to book directly with the rafting operator. In that way, too, you can find out who else is booked on the trip, which might well influence your enjoyment.