By and large, rafting is reasonably safe with a much better accident rate than, say, mountain biking or skiing (or, for that matter, trekking). However, there are few government controls on Nepal’s low-end operators and in the early 2000s and in 2009 there were a couple of fatalities – the first in two decades, mind you.

Make sure the company supplies life jackets (and not ancient ones), helmets and a full first-aid kit, and satisfy yourself that the rafts are in good running order and that there will be a safety demonstration. There must be a minimum of two rafts, in case one capsizes. In high-water conditions or on any river more difficult than class 2, the rafts should be self-bailing and there should be safety kayakers to rescue “swimmers”. Most important of all, guides must be trained, certified (including first-aid certified), have experience guiding on the stretch of river in question, and speak adequate English – there should be an opportunity to meet guides before departure.

The more distant but potentially catastrophic safety concern is from landslides or rare GLOF or glacial lake outburst flooding events. If you hear an unusual, thunderous sound coming from upstream while you’re on or beside the river, scramble for high ground. A big wave might be coming.

Rafters have the same responsibilities to the environment as trekkers, particularly regarding firewood, sanitation and litter (see Conservation tips).

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Nepal features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to explore the world. Whether you'd rather spend it on a desert island or in a frenetic new city, here are th…

21 Dec 2016 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
Stunning documentary on Nepal shows restoration of the country's sites

Stunning documentary on Nepal shows restoration of the country's sites

"The only thing you could focus on was the fact that the earth was moving from side to side by about eight to ten metres." These are the words of Kathmandu resi…

07 Jun 2016 • Lottie Gross videocam Video
Painting the town red, pink, green and yellow: Holi Festival 2016 in pictures

Painting the town red, pink, green and yellow: Holi Festival 2016 in pictures

Every year, Hindus around the world celebrate Holi Festival: the festival of colours. The event attracts many non-Hindus to take part, too, with hundreds of p…

24 Mar 2016 • Lottie Gross insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month