Nepal might be best known for being a top spot for hiking, trekking, and mountaineering, but that does not mean that the list of outdoor activi ies that can be done in the country ends there. While a lot of tourists might not know that kayaking is also quite popular in Nepal, the country is in fact the perfect destination for kayakers regardless of the level of skill and experience.
For those who are a little more familiar with the international kayaking community, Nepal is hailed as the ultimate kayaking playground, especially for those interested in whitewater kayaking. On top of the numerous rivers and rapids, there is also a unique river culture in Nepal, making it the ideal destination for kayakers from all over the world.
In this article, we will talk about everything you need to know about kayaking in Nepal, so sit back, relax, and strap along for the ride.
When to go kayaking in Nepal
The prospect of going kayaking in Nepal is truly exciting, but that does not mean that you should book a ticket to the country right away. Before you do so, make sure that you are visiting at a month when the rivers and rapids are at a condition most suitable for your skill level.
Generally, tourists travel to Nepal during autumn, that is, from October to December. You can come earlier in September, but that is still monsoon season so you can expect constant rains and higher water levels. If you are a little apprehensive about higher water or if this will be your first time to kayak, then it is highly advisable to wait out until October towards the end of the monsoon season. By then, the weather will be more agreeable.
The weather is already hot around October and the water levels are already beginning to drop. By November, the water in most rivers and rapids are already quite manageable – perfect for kayaking beginners. You can still go kayaking around December, but you can expect the temperature to be colder with lower river flows. That said, November will be the most ideal month to go kayaking in Nepal.
The time when you will go kayaking in Nepal is also a determining factor when it comes to choosing the appropriate gear, so make sure to plan accordingly.
Mode of transportation
If you are an experienced kayaker, then you probably bring your own gear when you go kayaking – from your kayaking outfit to your very own kayak. That said, transportation is a top consideration when you go to Nepal. If you can afford renting a vehicle for the duration of your stay in Nepal, then great for you. That means you would not have to worry about transporting your gear from the airport to your kayaking destination. This is especially handy if you are planning to kayak in different places in Nepal.
However, if you cannot afford to rent a vehicle, then you have to resort to taking public transport. You have two options in that case: taking a taxi or taking a bus. Taking a taxi is the more convenient option, of course, but with trips to kayaking destinations taking several hours, the costs can be really high. That said, if you want to keep your costs down, then taking a bus is the best option for you.
However, you have to note that you will often have to pay extra for your kayak, and it is up to you to make sure that your kayak is fastened securely to the roof of the bus. Bear in mind that roof racks may be rough, so unless you want your kayak to be damaged, it is necessary to have something to pad the roof with.
Buses are also the main mode of transportation in Nepal, so be prepared to have to squeeze yourself into crowded buses. The good news, however, is that you might be able to get a tourist bus for certain destinations (although you might have some persuasion to do with regard to your kayak). Tourist buses are less crowded than normal ones, plus you get to have a tourist guide.
Do note, however, that it could take you anywhere from six to 12 hours to get from the airport to your kayaking destination, so factor in your comfort when choosing a mode of transportation. While taking ordinary buses will certainly help you save money, it is not exactly the most viable option if you want to be comfortable for the duration of the trip. That said, if you are travelling with buddies, it might just be better to rent your own vehicle and split the costs among yourselves.
Local kayaking operations
For kayaking beginners and first-timers, or those who are not willing to lug around all their kayaking gear for the entire duration of their Nepal trip, your best option is to check out local kayaking operations.
For one, these local outfits will be able to supply you with the necessary gear and equipment. This is especially convenient if you intend on travelling light and if you have a lot of activities planned for the duration of your stay.
Also, local kayaking operations can help you find great kayaking spots depending on your skills and experience. If you are looking for someone who can help you arrange plan your kayaking activities or if you are travelling by yourself but want to go kayaking with a group, then they can certainly assist you. Moreover, local kayaking operations often arrange transportation, as well, especially when it comes to more remote kayaking locations. Sure, you will have to spend a little more if you avail of the services of local kayaking operations, but the convenience and the added safety are well worth the extra costs.
If you have never tried kayaking before and really want to try it out, then enrolling in a kayaking clinic is the best option for you. A kayaking clinic can help you learn everything you need to know about kayaking – from how to perform proper paddle strokes to how to stay safe while kayaking. Kayaking clinics will also help you prepare the proper gear for your first kayaking adventure and help you get better acquainted with kayaking spots in Nepal. Instructors in kayaking clinics are all certified and experienced, as well as well-versed in local kayaking regulations, so you do not have to be apprehensive even if you have never tried kayaking before.
Note, however, that kayaking courses offered by kayaking clinics typically span several days, so make sure to accommodate that in your schedule. Usual courses start with an introductory course on kayaking – choosing equipment and basic safety guidelines. From there, the course progresses to basic kayaking skills tested in calm water, gradually moving on to more difficult maneuvers and in trickier waters. The good thing about such courses is that you will progress at your own pace and you will not feel rushed in learning how to kayak. Plus, you will be taking lessons for only a few hours each day so you will still have plenty of time to explore local tourist spots.
Of course, if you will not be staying in Nepal for a very long time, this might not be the best option for you. However, if you want to have solid grounding when it comes to kayaking and if you intend to continue kayaking even after you leave Nepal, then enrolling in a kayaking clinic is a great learning experience.
Kayaking clinics are not that difficult to find, but if you are not sure which one to enroll in, you can start with the following clinics:
1) Equator Expeditions
Equator Expeditions operates in the Sukute Beach Resort. The resort is a great spot by the river with access to a private beach, making it an ideal spot for learning how to kayak. In addition, the resort is also a perfect spot for relaxing and lounging around after your kayaking lessons. The resort also has a bar area with pool tables, perfect for hanging out with fellow tourists and kayakers during your downtime.
2) Ultimate Rivers
Like the Equator expeditions, Ultimate Rivers is also a basic kayaking camp. It operates in Ultimate Rivers Bhote Koshi Resort. You can get a good four-day clinic experience for US$200, although you will have to take the bus or resort to other modes of transportation to get to the river from the resort.
3) Royal Beach Camp
Royal Beach Camp offers more flexible kayaking clinic programs and you can choose from any of their two to seven-day kayak clinic programs. The Royal beach Camp has a fixed camp at Kataudi on the Trisuli River, so you would not have to worry about your transportation from the resort to the river and back. In addition, Royal Beach Camp also has its own swimming pool where you can wind down after your kayaking lessons. In addition to providing kayaking lessons, Royal beach Camp also offers clinics on rafting, canyoning, and even hosts expeditions for families.
4) Ultimate Descents Nepal
If you are willing to spend a little more for a great kayaking experience, then you should try enrolling with Ultimate Descents Nepal. Its four-day clinic will cost you roughly US$260, but it is well worth the experience. The four-day camp takes place on the Seti River, known for being gentle and, hence, beginner-friendly. On your first day, you will be taught the basics on Phewa Tal while the rest of the camp will be spent on the Seti River. Even better, you will spend two nights camping by the Seti riverside, so it certainly is a great way to enjoy the outdoors. The Seti is also a wilderness river, allowing you to really feel closer to nature.
What you should look for in local kayaking operations and clinics
With more and more tourists visiting Nepal to try out kayaking, there has also been an increase in the number of local kayaking operations and clinics. So how do you know which services to actually avail of? Are there things you should always look for?
The honest answer is this: it really depends on what you need and how much you are willing to spend. If budget is not much of an issue, however, it is advisable to look for a kayaking operation or clinic which offers transportation before and after the kayaking trip, especially if the kayaking operation or clinic does not have a facility on the river itself. This way, you do not have to worry about transporting your gear and equipment. Transportation is especially important for more experienced kayakers who might opt to bring their own gear.
For beginners and first-timers, meanwhile, it is also advisable to look for kayaking packages which are inclusive of gears and equipment, including the paddle, the kayak, helmet and wet-suit, and a support raft. Try to inquire if the company also offers waterproof containers for your valuables, as well as dry bags for your clothes. If the kayaking package includes riverside camping in the itinerary, it is best to inquire of tents and sleeping bags will also be provided by the company, as well as food and other provisions. This way, you can still travel light even if you intend to go on a kayaking adventure. Also, knowing about these things in advance will allow you to prepare accordingly.
Nepal might be popular because of its peaks, but it does not mean that its kayaking spots are less impressive than its mountains. On the contrary, rapids and rivers in Nepal are equally astounding and anyone who wants to make the most out of their trip to the country really should not miss out on the opportunity to try kayaking and other whitewater activities. And even if you have never tried kayaking before, no need to worry, because there are a lot of kayaking spots in Nepal which are beginner-friendly. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and try kayaking.