Friendly locals, stunning scenery and great paddling opportunities makes Nepal the perfect SUP destination for the more adventurous paddler. In 2018 The ‘Water Skills Academy’ will be organising guided trips to Nepal, so you can enjoy the SUPing whilst they sort out the logistics! Want to find out more? Read on…
Mention Nepal and the mind conjures up images of high snow-covered peaks, Sherpa’s and climbers in down suits. Or if you are a little older, it may take you back to the hippy trail and wild stories of happy times in Kathmandu. On the other hand, a paddler may dream of multi day white water trips in seriously remote areas. For years the rivers of Nepal have been a focus for the white water kayaker or rafter, a playground for kayakers challenging themselves against some of the worlds best white water. Taking an eye off the white water, Nepal has some flat water offering multi day SUP adventures.
This year, Live the Adventure Co, Himalayan specialists and the Water Skills Academy ran a Nepalese first. Whilst not a first decent the Kali Gandaki offers in its lower regions, 6 days of easy grade water, with one section of white water. This river description has deterred many paddlers but for a SUP decent a perfect fit. The Kali Gandaki rises near the Tibetan border and flows to the Ganges cutting its way through deep gorges and jungle corridors. Paddling in Nepal we learn that the rivers change every year as the monsoon, which fills the rivers with its continuous rain in summer, can change a river dramatically.
Arriving in Kathmandu, late October the team assembled in Thamel, a fun vibrant tourist area with its bars, cafes and guesthouses. After a fun evening the team of paddlers from the UK Canada and Nepal flew to Pokhara west of Kathmandu. Flying to Pokhara is the best option to save time. The road between the two areas is a rough ride and can take 6 hours at best, or a lot worse. Pokhara sits below the Annapurna on the bank of Phewa Lake. It has a slower pace than hectic Kathmandu and is the gateway to some of Nepal’s great river systems. Last minute preparations and the team boarded the bus for a scenic drive to the put in. The put in is below a small town of Ramdi and alongside a grade 2 plus rapid, easily portageable. With our gear loaded on the raft supporting us for the river journey we pushed off and paddled downstream into the wilderness.
A river journey is special, each day waking to the unknown of what the day will bring.
On many rivers kayaks and rafts have become a regular sight by local villagers, however the lower Kali Gandaki has seen very little river traffic and definitely no Stand Up Paddleboards.
Travelling for 6 days we were treated to white beaches to camp on, fantastic food and friendly locals. River days start with an early morning tea and breakfast, breaking camp once the sun has dried the dew from the tents and tarps. Each day paddling several hours before pulling over onto a deserted beach for lunch. Each day around 3pm we waited for the best beach to camp as we floated past. Unloading the raft each afternoon, tarps erected and kitchen set up. Tea and popcorn as an early evening snack before an amazing feast and fireside stories.
Each night we were treated to insect songs from the forest, stars and fireflies. Days were warm under the Himalayan sun with the continual flow of the river. Research and planning had confirmed an easy float trip however changes to the river had made each day more challenging than anticipated. The flow was steady however following a long and heavy monsoon we were surprised by the number of grade 2 rapids faced daily. Whilst these would be no issue for a raft or kayak, SUPs are a challenging craft.
Each day bought new experiences on and off the water… amazing paddling, laughter, stories and friendly locals.
All too soon our get out was in sight, boards and raft deflated we were back on the bus for a challenging journey back to Pokhara and a last paddle on Phewa lake.
Words – WSA
This river journey is suitable for the adventurous SUPer with a good level of experience, happy to be on and in the water.
Places for April and November 2018 trip available.
To find out more and join the team in 2018 get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com