10 Days


Nepal's longest and biggest river, the Karnali springs forward from Mount Kailash, a sacred moutain in Tibet imperative to both Buddhist and Hindu. Streaming south into Nepal, it frames the significant water streaming system for the western locale before dropping off into dramatic canyons raging with enormous big volume whitewater and eventually flowing into remote areas of pristine wilderness rich with natural life.


Date Location
11th - 20th March 2024 | Fix Departure Book Now

Nepal's longest and biggest river, the Karnali springs forward from Mount Kailash, a sacred moutain in Tibet imperative to both Buddhist and Hindu. Streaming south into Nepal, it frames the significant water streaming system for the western locale before dropping off into dramatic canyons raging with enormous big volume whitewater and eventually flowing into remote areas of pristine wilderness rich with natural life. The first half of this river journey into the "wild west" offers unbelievable whitewater excitement, usually depicted as "a thrill a minute roller coaster ride". The second 50% of the journey settles down into some more moderate & gentle rapids and eventually a relaxed float rewarded by dramatic and hugely varied pristine and unspoiled wilderness. The Karnali River journey completes at the popular Bardia National Park – the most wilderness in Nepal rich in natural life. Many consider this fantastic river journey one of the finest rafting journey in the world.


There is normally a pre-departure meeting at our Kathmandu office the day before the expedition starts. Any last minute questions can be addressed at this point. Bring along some money if you plan to drink beer, rum or soda on the trip. We will arrange for a staff member to go and purchase the goods. We will give out personal gear bags and also go through the logistics of luggage storage and delivery to the take-out point if you are not returning to Kathmandu. If you are joining the group directly from Pokhara, our office staff located in Pokhara will brief you and coordinate for a meeting point in Mugling. If you leave on a morning bus from Pokhara, you will be there by noon and our bus should roll to a stop there at about 1 p.m.


DAY 01 & 02


We meet at our Sales Office at 6 a.m. where tea and coffee will be served to freshen you up (we advise you to buy something to eat in the morning from a bakery, the night before, as the restaurants won’t be open early in the morning). After drinks, we take a short walk through the 


narrow and winding streets of Thamel to our waiting bus. From here, we begin our trip to the Wild West. 


We stop for the night at a small town called Kohalpur (25 minutes drive from Nepalgunj airport). Here, we spend the night at a guest house. After breakfast the next morning, we hop onto the bus that passes through the low lands, climbs the Churia hill through the Bardia National Park and ventures on to the remote village of Surkhet. As we traverse the Terai region, the scenery is varied and splendid. There is a good chance that you might be able to see some of the wildlife and birds while driving through the National Park area, so keep your eyes open. We also stop at a view-point from where you can enjoy the spectacular view of low land jungle and the gangetic plain on the south and the Churia hills and the Mahabharata range on the north. The bus ride is not only bearable but is outright fun. After reaching Surkhet in the early afternoon on day 2, we drive to Dungeswor, the raft starting point and camp for the night.


DAY 3-8


After breakfast, we inflate the rafts and tie the equipments. Our river guides spend the first part of the morning explaining the finer points of how to paddle through whitewater and stay in the raft as it bucks and contorts through the rapids. For those who missed a point in the previous lesson, there is a briefing on how to swim through whitewater using the flotation device and paddle to keep your head up and your feet to push off the rocks. The guides will also teach you what they are looking for when they run the river like: the innocuous looking rise in the water that hides a hole or the way you can use the 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 person who has devoted his/her life to learning and running whitewater rivers. Under his/ her careful indoctrination, the raft crew learns how to work as a team, practicing on the smaller rapids that are encountered on the first kilometer of the river. Teamwork is what makes it possible to run any river safely and this extends beyond your raft. All the rafts and safety kayakers work as a team, communicating with and supporting each other-it is impressive to watch. You are never in a rapid alone. By the time we get to the harder rapids like: Sweetness and Light, Jail House Rock, Flip n’ Strip etc., the crew will be working together with exquisite timing and precision. The major rapids are all scouted which gives us the opportunity to choose the most exhilarating route and decide on what safety is needed. It is also an excellent opportunity to take photos and watch the runs of the other crafts. 

On the second day on the water, we face the biggest day of rafting as we paddle down to Jungle Ghat. We normally stop at the only village on the upper section of the river to go and have a cup of tea and check out the local scene. Bhotias (people of Tibetan Origin) drive their herds of sheep and goats across a rickety suspension bridge following the trail that heads up to Jumla and eventually Tibet. Gurung and Chhetri porters, dwarfed by their huge loads, rest over here before continuing their slow progress to Terai. The Brahmin store owners are always genuinely glad to see us, certainly not because we spend a lot as there’s not much to buy other than tea and biscuits. It’s always good to take a break over here as just 10 minutes downstream, we pull over into the surging eddy above Jailhouse Rock. Below, all you can see is the pulsing plumes of spray accompanied by the ominous rumbling of the river, a really good indication that this is a rapid worth looking at. From the side of the river the line looks pretty clear –be warned though, the water is a lot more powerful than it looks! Inversion rapid follows this, a series of massive standing waves that leads down into a steep canyon with a 300 foot waterfall cascading into the river. 


That night we camp at the Scorpion Beach, which will be home for our layover day as well. The Karnali River gorge is one of the most heavily forested and pristine areas in Nepal. Wildlife is abundant as the steep canyon walls make many parts inaccessible except by the river. Langur and Rhesus monkeys are common and the bird life is phenomenal. Leopards have been spotted from the river and one expedition even found a paw print in the sand, which could only have belonged to a Royal Bengal Tiger. Pythons have also been spotted and one of our guides once woke up to discover he had spent the night with two Scorpions in his sleeping bag. Talk about a one-night stand!

Camping on the Karnali is awesome. The massive flood of the monsoon deposits huge tracks of pure white sand along the river, which is ideal to camp on. Our layover day lets us take full advantage of the setting…..beach volleyball, sand sculpture, hackysack, Frisbee, sun bathing and eating are favorite activities on the layover day. You can also take advantage of the day and trek to a peak or nearby village or even take part in the kayak workshop that the safety boaters offer. 

Several beaches where we camp offer waterfalls or mud baths and if you’re into fishing, the Karnali provides for some the best fishing in Nepal. Some of the Masheer and Catfish get big enough to scare you. 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, a mirror image of Jailhouse Rock, and continues in a series of canyons for about 7 km with 16 odd rapids. This is what we are here for- it is a real ‘thrill-a-minute roller-coaster ride’ with rapids on every bend. The whole river narrows down into the bowels of the Earth as we run classic drops like: Juicer, Flip’n Strip, Totall Ghat, Snapshot and Freight Train before stopping for the night at a sweeping sandy beach in a beautiful canyon. Below this, the contorted sandstone cliffs tower on either side as we continue through the Red Rock Canyon and some more rapids.

The confluence of the Seti River means that we’re past the major rapids on the Karnali. It is the perfect time to get into one of the smaller crafts such as our inflatable kayaks or Soviet catamarans. You may also want to try your hands at a hard shell kayak. The steep canyon walls of the last days recede into rolling hills and curious stone formations. The lower section of the Karnali is home to freshwater Dolphins, Marsh mugger crocodiles and Gharials and the giant fish eating Crocodiles with long, graceful jaws. After five days of whitewater, it is nice to take a rest and watch the scenery pass. Cliff jumping is a popular diversion to the flow of the river, as medium to high cliffs with deep, clear pools abound.


DAY 9 & 10: 


From our last campsite nestled in the rock formations of the lower canyon, we drift down to Chisopani, the first town we’ll see after ten days. Chisopani isn’t much of a town…..basically just a couple of dal bhat shops and an impressive bridge. But even then, it is hard to get re-acclimated to the sound of human chaos. After ten days without any vehicles, car horns or screaming children, even a little town like Chisopani serves to remind us of just how quiet the last ten days were. Most people want to crawl back up the river at this point. But alas, the river flows only one way. So, from Chisopani we board the bus for the return trip to Kathmandu. 



Cannot stand the thought of returning to Kathmandu? There is another option: If you hit Chisopani and cannot handle the transition, take the opportunity and head off to the Bardia National Park or Shukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve for a few more days of peace and quiet. Bardia National Park is generally considered to be the wildlife park of Nepal. The number of visitor is strictly limited and the park boasts of the highest number of tiger sightings in Nepal. Other wildlife which make their home in the park are: Indian one-horned rhinoceros, Asian elephants, Leopards, Sloth bears, Barking deer, Blackbuck, Sambar and the occasional Mongoose as well as a staggering variety of birds. While at Bardia, you can also enjoy a variety of activities ranging from Elephant safaris (unquestionably the best way to view Rhinoceros and Tigers), canoeing with the gangetic dolphins, jungle walks and bird watching. There are limited yet varied options for accommodation depending on your preference and budget. Let us know if you will be spending time in Bardia as it is best to book in advance and we will be delighted to assist you with the arrangements. India also happens to be a hop-skip-and-a jump away with the border towns of Mahendranagar and Nepalgunj just a few hours’ drive from Chisopani. 

  • Shorts / ½ pants
  • T-shirts
  • Sport sandals or comfortable shoes that can get wet and will stay on your feet
  • Quick dry long shirts
  • Swimwear
  • Track pants / comfortable long pants
  • Warm fleece
  • Jacket (waterproof shell)
  • Socks
  • Comfortable Shoes for rafting
  • Warm hat (in cold months) and sunglass
  • Travel towel
  • Toiletries/Sunscreen / sunscreen lip protection
  • Mosquito repellant
  • Water bottle
  • Head lamp / flash light
  • Personal first aid kit
  • Sleeping bag (if you do not have one – we will provide a complimentary rental)
  • A little cash for treats,
  • Transportation to the put-in point and back from the put-out point
  • Lunch
  • Internationally certified rafting guides and safety kayakers
  • State-of-the-art rafting equipment and safety gear (including dry bags, helmets, life vests, etc.)
  • River permits

Other Activities