Gripped on the Bhote Koshi Run

Bhote Koshi River Travel Blog

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Lunch site on the lower section of the Bhote Koshi,this is the class III section, day 1

Well. This must be the pinnacle of my rafting experience right here. The famous Bhote Koshi, the river I've seen on countless whitewater videos, the one that always pumps just a little bit of adrenaline into your system whenever it gets mentioned, the one that had a lot to do with drawing us here to Nepal in the first place, and the one we've been waiting to do since we first got here. Actually, we did do it when we first got here; it was the first outing we did from Kathmandu back in September. But we could only do the lower section because the water was too high to even consider doing the mighty upper. This trip, Oct. 24 and 25th, was the first trip of the season to run the upper section.

It took that long for the water to calm down to a slighter roar, one fathomable for boaters to run. As usual, we tagged along with Drift Nepal's commercial trip, bringing an extra raft and agreeing to carry extra passengers and be generally helpful where we could. Kalu came to guide. This is his old favorite from back in the days when he lived here only, and it's really the section every guide in the valley wants to guide on. As Kalu puts it, "a young man's river." So here we go.

   On Day One, we do the lower section (our second time here), a beautiful, consistent class III section that has changed a lot in the month since we first saw it, and gotten much colder. The rocks have emerged with lower volume, which makes some bigger, some smaller.

This day is sunny, fun, relaxed, but also meant to prepare everyone for the next day of full on, intense class IV and V rapids.

   We camp at a really nice cove along the river at a cobblestone lined pavillion with thatched roof and banana trees overhead, Drift's permanent lunch/camp site for their Bhote Koshi day and overnight trips. It even has various dining platforms of low wooden tables and pillows to sit on while stretching out, and a few showers and bathrooms around the corner. We have the best daal bhaat I've had yet; these guys know how to cook. 

   On Day Two, we lay around a while, eat a huge breakfast and head out to the uper section. Marc and I  ride on top of the bus with the guides, who are using the drive as an initial scout of the section-every other season here, the spring run-off and fall monsoon, bring changes to the river with major and minor landslides. It's difficult to describe just how much water runs through this country. But the upper section always changes, so the guides take note of what's new, what's old as we drive alongside the rapids, quiet out of reverence to what we are seeing. Then we get to the put in. We set off, cross the river and wait in an eddy for the other rafts, all full of commercial and mostly novice paddlers. The last raft to put on flips immediately, dumping eight people out into a series of cold, continuous rapids-we begin chasing down people and the raft, which is completely abandoned. I thought this was sort of an alarming start to a challenging stretch, knowing the beginning section was considerably easier than the end section. But  that was the only drama of the day to speak of. A few people opted to quit, probably for the better, and those of us who went on had an incredible day of exhilarating whitewater. We did a lot of scouting, which made it a long day, but looking at some of the rapids, breaking them down together and finding the best path, consulting Kalu about every move, the plan A, B, C etc. then going back to the top, getting back in the raft with our hearts in our throats, paddling hard and having a beautiful line through every single rapid was the best part the experience. And yes, we were gripped.

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Lunch site on the lower section of…
Lunch site on the lower section o…
1,040 km (646 miles) traveled
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Bhote Koshi River
photo by: wanderlust85