The Karnali River Expedition/ The Wild West River in Nepal.
Navigate Outdoor/Navigate Rivers Nepal, organize and run private rafting expedition some of the best river in the Himalayan and in the world, Karnali River is one of our most beautiful and preferred River for the big water rafting and camping in Nepal Karnali River known as western bend and Jewels of Himalayan and started from Tibet.
Karnali River is Nepal’s longest and largest river and with tributaries, it drains most of the far west of Nepal- the ‘wild west’ as many people call it. This bottom section of the river definitely lives up to that name – the area that it flows through is wild and relatively unpopulated with some of the most pristine jungle scenery in Nepal, and abundant wildlife.
The rapids are also pretty wild, with the river building to its climax in these lower canyons. Shortly after the sharp bend in the river the elbow by the Lohare Khola (Starting point), the valley narrows into a series of canyons, the river speeds up, and there are big rapids, one leading into another, almost continuously down to the Seti River. From the elbow down the West-Seti River the gradient is 3meter per kilometer (15ft per mile), but after here the gradient ease, as the river winds through some magnificent un-spoilt scenery, eventually emerging onto the plains and flowing through the Royal Bardhiya National Park to join the Ganges.
In terms of volume, the river is comparable to Sunkosi, but the Karnali river is more constrained by its canyon walls; giving bigger, more continuous and serious rapids The constrained nature of the river means that any increase in volume has a more pronounced effect on the difficulty of the rapids and this makes is a river that is best run at low/medium flows- in high water Karnali serious commitment/challenge. Highest extreme instantaneous discharge measured at Chisapani (Takeout) was an incredible 21700cumecs (760000CFS)
Starting point: Lohore Khola Difficulty: Hard (Grade IV & IV+ 4+)
Ending point: Chisapani Best season: Oct to Dec & April – May
Distance: 190km. Rafting days: 7 days
Accommodation: tented camping Trip cost: $1450 – $1650
(two-person tent north face) River rating: 5 Star
Trip start and end Kathmandu
- Trip Grade:Moderate, Challenging, Hard
- Total Duration:9-12 days
- Best Time:April - May & Oct- Nov
- World's best Rafting:5 star
Itinerary at a glance!!!
Day 01: Arrived in Kathmandu and transfer to the hotel in Kathmandu.
Arrived in immigration be ready to issue your visa (for visa apply you need 2Pass port size pictures with cash dollar $40.00/smaller bills) After visa issued a walk to the baggage claim area and to the arrival its very short distance. When you arrive in arrival our company @navigateoutdoor representative display board with your name at the guest pick up area, and transfer to the hotel, Evening we meet at the hotel brief about your trip at the hotel.
Day 03: fly to Nepalgunj, and drive to Lohore Khola and camp at the Put-in.
The longest and exotic adventure day of the trip: we catch the first fight and fly to Nepalgunj 45 minutes with one of our leader rest of our river crew they left the night before meeting at the Airport in Nepalgunj.
From Nepalgunj to Karnali River starting place takes roughly 7 hours with a lunch break on the way. We stop few minutes at Surkhet for the last minute shopping before heading to the mountain and remote Karnali River Expedition. We drive pass through campsitemagnificent view of agriculture sites, terraces and villages, we’ll view Karnali River while we drive to the put in on our left sides. We’ll camp and get ready for our expedition.
Day 4: Our leader they prep your food and guide you on the water; guides will be ready to rig and load rafts little after breakfast we rigs for a flip. The first day of the rafting it will take the long process for organizing gear and stuff, we carry everything that we need. We will be little more directive and seeking help from our expedition member especially moving heavy barrel, pumping rafts packing dry bags and other small tasks/camp chores. We plan to leave around 11:00 AM after safety talk, and basic safety brief of the river rafting. We stop for the Lunch around 12noon and camp around 3:30 PM and camp not later than 4 PM. At the camp, we brief about the camp organize and hygiene and safety. We really care about our impact and try to minimize.
Day 5: The 2nd day of the Karnali river Expedition the biggest day and the busiest day for the paddlers and guides, we will face some of the biggest rapids like sweetness and light, and Jailhouse rocks we scout both rapids from land and brief our clients before a run. We will paddle & passing through some beautiful landscape agriculture terraces/village and suspension bridges. We stop at Jungle-Ghat interact with local and drink tea before heading to the biggest rapid Jailhouse rocks, and camp at the Scorpion Beach around 3:30 to 4 PM.
Day 6: Rest day/ layover day; wake up little late breakfast, optional day hike or just chill on the beach. You can swim; kayak or fish at the camp site or just read next to the river and enjoy the day.
Day 7: The another biggest day on the Karnali river corridor, it’s my favorite days; we will start around 9 AM little early, because we stop and scout at least 4 rapids that consume some time (Gods house, Juicer, Flip and strips, and Totalighat), we’ve many rapids read and run. Gorge section has beautiful rock formation and remote place in the entire rafting section. And camp at the west Seti river confluence.
Day 8: From Seti River confluence River slower and have fewer rapids. The landscape, and dense rain forest, and waterfall are magnificent and hard to close eye. This section will be the best option for hard-shell kayak and swimming as well as relaxing on the raft, fishing. And camp/ campfire and watching local fishing.
Day 9: Similar water flow and landscape like the day before, you can enjoy the day actively trying to do some kayaking, swimming, cliff jump and bird watching as well as interacting with local at the lunch break. Highlight: village tour, cliff jumping, swimming, kayaking, fishing and bird watch.
Day 10: Similar water flow and landscape like the day before, you can enjoy the day kayaking, swimming, cliff jump and bird watching as well as interacting with local at the lunch break. Highlight: village tour, cliff jumping, swimming, kayaking, fishing, and bird watch and camp at the Bheri River confluence.
Day 11: Start early morning 7 AM we might lucky to see some crocodiles! They often found lying on the beach closer to the take out/ bridge, on the Karnali River found two types of crocodiles Magar & Ghardial, and rarely found or seen fresh dolphins mostly lower part / below Karnali bridge. We finished our expedition just above the bridge, have lunch at the restaurant and drive overnight to Kathmandu or drive to Nepalgunj and fly to Kathmandu 45minute and transfer to the hotel.
Day 12: Rest day in Kathmandu/shopping.
Day 13: Final departure
We’re strongly encouraging people to take chance and spent few nights in the Bardiya National Park and support local business and see endangers animals and other wildlife along Tharu culture.
- All meals on rafting expedition.
- Domestic flight tickets Kathmandu – Nepalgunj - Kathmandu.
- State-of-the-art rafting equipment, all the rafts NRS brand and branding PFDs (NRS), Helmet Pro-tech, Wet suits or paddle jackets for each client.
- Experienced world-class rafting and safety kayaker and first-aid trained crew.
- Comprehensive group medical kit with some emergency med, trauma kits, river-related meds.
- All essential camping equipment, Tents, cooking utensil, sleeping bags, sleeping mat, dry bags expedition big size 100ltr capacity sharing and one small day dry bag.
- Rafting permits and rafting fees.
- Clean treated drinking water (iodine/ chlorine) for both clean dishes and veg.
- Meals Dinner, Breakfast, and Lunch with hot drinks, tea coffee, and hot chocolate.
- 4-night hotel in Kathmandu with breakfast on twin/double occupancy standard rooms.
- Sightseeing in Kathmandu with tour guide and private vehicle.
- Airport picks up and drops as needed.
Service not including:
- International flight tickets, visa fee, baggage fee.
- Lunch and dinner while you are in Kathmandu.
- Personal/health / travel/ adventure insurance.
- Personal clothing for your trips.
- Extra nights in Kathmandu/hotel & lunch and dinner in Kathmandu.
- Emergency evacuation fees and charges.
- Guide/crew tip.
- All bottle beverages i.e. coke/soda, beer/alcohol/ mineral water, etc.
Cost and Dates
|Trip Start Date||Trip End Date||Price||Availability||Book|
|25th November, 2019||4th December, 2019||US$1499||Available||Book Now|
|20th April, 2020||29th April, 2020||US$1450||Available||Book Now|
|4th May, 2020||13th May, 2020||US$1450||Available||Book Now|
|5th October, 2020||14th October, 2020||US$1650||Available||Book Now|
|12th October, 2020||21st October, 2020||US$1650||Available||Book Now|
|9th November, 2020||18th November, 2020||US$1650||Available||Book Now|
Please be ready and keep in mind that adventure in the Himalayan Rivers requires an open & emphatic mind. During your Rafting Expedition you are lacking some of the basic need like hot shower, and electricity. Due to weather conditions, health issues, and other general issues of the group members or sudden natural disaster like landslide, flood, and other natural aspect we may to change your River /route. We try our best to follow our original plan when you booked your expedition, but your safety is our primary concern. In case the trip need reroute of your River Expedition is necessary, our Trip leader/ guide make final call or decision.
- Camera, water bottle, extra money, sunscreen, sunglasses, sunhat, hiking loose fitting shorts/ synthetic T-shirt etc.
- River shoe, camp shoe, 2 to 3 pair's woolen socks, 1 pairs liner gloves, warm hat.
- Day backpack 35 ltr to 50 ltr, and a duffel bag for your clothing.
- Warm layers, synthetic jackets, fleece, Rafting short/ pants, Thermals.
Our daily routine
06.30 wake-up to a steaming hot tea or coffee
08.30 pack-up and load rafts
09.30 start rafting
13.00: afternoon rafting
15.00 to 1600: set-up camp on the riverside
16.00 to 1700 tea, snacks and time for relaxing / beach volleyball
18.00 to 1900: dinner
Navigate Outdoor run self-sufficient trips on several rivers in Nepal; whether just a weekend on the water or you are wanting to escape Kathmandu for more than a week, We provide experienced rafting crew in the country with world-class trained and the latest equipment and excellent safety records.
Optional: 2 night 3 days Bardiya Jungle Safari/ wildlife tour in the National Park. Please confirm booking before trip departure in Kathmandu if you are interested to stay in Bardiya.We can organize your trip to Bardiya as you like 1 or malty days stay.
Create your dream trips together customize your holiday particular interest or wishes.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for details and additional information about the area.
We will provide a comprehensive gear list on booking.
Journeying a river: Jai Karnali, January 2020
How did river Ganga come to be?
Mythology says that there was a noble King who requested that Ganga descend from heaven to bless humanity and quench the thirst of the land and its people.
Pleased to shower the world with blessings, Ganga rushed down with such gusto that people feared that all that came in the way would be washed away. The God Shiva came to the rescue and stopped the momentum of the water with his long thick long hair. Because of this, Ganga flowed smoothly and satiated the thirst of all beings and showered blessings on the land with each drop of precious water.
Ecologists interpret this myth as a metaphor- Shiva’s thick long hair is synonymous with dense jungles that help check the floods and stop the land from washing away as the river accelerates down the slopes from the melting glaciers.
Rafting down the river Karnali in Western Nepal last month, it felt as if the myth was true! In our group of 11 people were some seasoned sailors, kayakers, river guides, and rafting experts, but a few like me had never been on a raft. I am also not a strong swimmer; so, it was an act of faith and surrender to the river and expertise of our leader Mani, and river rafting expert Manu to go on the trip.
We put the rafts in the river after about 4 hours drive up the town of Surkhet at an altitude of about 800 m. The rafts and the equipment, including the tents and rations, were supplied with the generous support of NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) in the States.
This expedition was conceptualized and planned by Ravi, NOLS India Programmed Director, and Mani ( #navigateoutdoor Nepal) NOLS senior Instructor and who co-led the expedition. The two kayakers, Ganesh and Nanu Kayaks and were in the tumultuous waters of Karnali watching and guiding our rafts at each and every rapid that came along. They were plenty of challenges to varying degrees!
For the next seven days we were out on the river, and camping at some of the most beautiful banks. We witnessed a vast expanse of pristine natural habitats along the way both on land and in the waters. We parked the rafts often to take a walk over to beautiful villages and bought fresh vegetables, fish, milk and yogurt, etc. from the villagers. We savored some delicious meals in cottage eateries that you can find along the traditional walking routes of the shepherds, traders, and village folk, that connect the plains with the high Himal region in the kingdom of Nepal and beyond on the Tibetan plateau. The river crisscrossed some of the most wonderfully crafted hanging bridges on these routes as well.
We saw how the simple and rich life of fishing communities sustainably harvest the bounty of fish from the river. They fish in their dug up canoes made from tree trunks. The fish from Karnali is famous across the region and fetches amongst the highest price in Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu. High value and low volume seem to be the guiding factor – it can be 2-4 days walk to sell and transport the fish, so, the fish is dried or smoked creating a very special, niche type of produce from the villages along Karnali.
Agriculture and livestock rearing is still flourishing in the villages. It was amazing to see some of the most appropriately designed dehusking, pounding, and winnowing equipment still in use – that has perhaps not changed in the last thousand years.
It is indeed a living culture that uses and maintains the landscape, in harmony with nature, using indigenous knowledge to enhance biodiversity and what we call ecosystem services. Our faith in the concept of the Gross National Happiness index was further strengthened. The common Human Development indices merely emphasize infrastructure and access to institutions such as hospitals and schools- but there is so much to be taken into account for true sustainability. While the intent is not to romanticize the old, biocultural heritage, the wisdom of the old seems to be working harmoniously and should well complement human development in a more meaningful way.
Some of the big questions being discussed in conferences and seminars across the world could be answered in a much more eco-friendly and happy way by experiencing the life and values of the community here and of other indigenous peoples across the world.
The modern idea of development as highly individualistic has become increasingly crippled with outdated notions of competition, rather than collaboration, also creating massive disparities in income and consumption of natural resources.
We could learn from the communities here, and take lessons from the past into the future: the dignity of physical work, interdependence, and interconnectedness are three principles that need to be central to human endeavor- there is no sustainability without equity and dignity.
Gradually, we descended down with the flow of the river, as it slowly calmed down in the Terai region. It’s a rich habitat for tigers, rhinoceroses, elephants, and another charismatic megafauna. The very sight of these deep jungles invokes awe. We got off the banks of the mighty Karnali at the little town of Chiso Pani.
We deflated the rafts, packed the gear, washed, and rushed to one of the many restaurants in this little town. Some of us relished the delicious fish from Karnali to their heart's content! For others like me, the restaurant served fabulous fresh greens with dal-bhat; as they say in Nepal “Dal Bhat power, 24 hours!”
May the river Karnali have a long life and continue to bless humanity as the King had anticipated in the ancient times. May present-day leaders start to wake up to the wisdom in conservation and sustainable utilization of the river, rather than damning it and threatening the sheer existence of these communities. May we all learn from the life of the people here; all the wonderful ways to weave a close-knit community and flourish together with nature.
Thanks for the whole team Chura Mani Aryal, Manohar, Nanu and Ganesh river experts, and beautiful Karnali River, and people from the river corridor.
"I want to thank you and your guides and employees again for the wonderful memories I have of the Manaslu trek and the lovely side trip into the Tsum Valley. The scenery and experiences were great and I especially loved the variety of forests, the wildlife, and of course the incomparable mountain scenery. I want to add a special thank you to you for the special care you gave me when my foot and leg became very swollen. Your help and knowledge allowed me to complete the trek with minimal discomfort. I still experience the problem to a minor degree but still, look forward to further adventurous travel when the situation allows in the future. Conversations with you about Nepalese history were also an enjoyable and informative aspect of the trek".
I would like to thank Navigate Outdoor for organizing such a joyful and safe trip to the Tsum and Manaslu region. I'd like to thank Mani and his entire team to make our trip such memorable and extra care to all of us on the trekking. I really enjoyed having my own personal time exploring the side valley taking pictures and interact with local people on the trail. Mani is an experienced leader who allows space while trekking. He helped, and always available for other trekkers they need medical attention. I saw him support others and interact with them in a really professional way. I appreciated and enjoyed the 24 days trekking in the Tsum valley and Manaslu round trekking.
Nick Green Australia 2018
I appreciate your attitude "Anyway life comes first and business comes second and other things." I can see you are really living that motto when you tell us of the wonderful time you are having with your family.
Dane, and I really enjoyed the trek to the Annapurna Sanctuary. While I have been trekking in the Himalayas a number of times it was nice to do a trek with my son. Dane was very impressed to see the high mountains. Thanks for organizing Annapurna Base Camp trekking for me and my son Dane. Mani, I really appreciated sharing your previous experiences and telling stories about your own life and adventure career. We'll do another trip in the future. We'll share our experiences with our friends and recommended Navigate Outdoor. I can't express the joyful moment I had on the Annapurna Base camp trip you with, and felt 100% safe, thanks for taking care of us in the trekking.
Malcolm and Dane Dwyer Australia 2019
Karnali River Experience.
They say that the journey is better than the destination. That all the experiences along the way are like an accumulation of rocks along a riverbed. This story is another stone in a river.
I have known Mani Aryal for several years, meeting him in the United States, in the state of Utah. Mani and I were both on a work contract to take a group of students down Desolation & Gray Canyon on the Green River. After spending three weeks with Mani I knew that I made a paddling adventure buddy and that he would be a person that I actively stay in contact with. The years have a way of floating by with adventure and intentions. Every time I spoke to Mani he persistently invited me to Kathmandu to see his home and to float the rivers. Three years after saying “no”, I finally could say “maybe”.
Kathmandu is large in legend and small in structure. The shuttle ride from the airport is an example of whitewater: dodging potholes, must-make moves, and pure adrenaline. It’s best not to watch.
There are two options to get to the river when signing up for a Karnali River Expedition trip: 1) take the plane or 2) ride with the guides and gear on public transport. I was on a tight budget, so option #2 was the only way to go. Putting together a multiday river trip is always difficult, especially when you start combining buses, shuttles, and rendezvous. The first leg of the journey was via public transportation to Koholpur. The guides and I, hanging out at the main bus depot, loading all of the gear we would need for the next 12 days was a new experience indeed.
You see a lot of different people and livestock on the long-distance buses. Chickens and goats are not uncommon. If a woman is standing with a baby, it’s a norm to hand a baby to you, a seated passenger, to hold the child in order to give her a break.
The second half of the shuttle was a private bus to the put-in, the small village of Dungeshor that is located straight down a canyon. The route our bus driver picked was shorter to save fuel but longer because of road conditions. Our bus rocked, creaked and moaned down the road for 8 hours only to cover 85km. “Singletrack” may be a better description than “road” as there were only inches to spare between rock walls and open air.
Sideswiping other buses, scouting rock gardens, and pushing our transport were common occurrences that quickly become norms. We reached Dungeshor after 10 pm to hastily inhale some food and beer from a generous restaurant owner who opened his doors after hours. Afterward, we set up our tents on the riverbank to welcome a solid, unwavering piece of ground to usher in some sleep.
The next morning, the guides were in their prime, having already started getting breakfast ready for everyone. Mani was no exception, greeting me with a great, white smile and a coffee to help orient my mind back to my body. The biggest surprise was all of the children hanging about camp. We were all warned not to leave our gear unattended. Later that day, I realized a carabineer walked off to hang out with the children. The guides seemed to include me that much more by laughing and sharing stories of gear gone lost.
Throughout the six days, Mani and his guides were exceptional hosts. It seemed as if they never stopped moving. Always quick to put a coffee in your hand, help you set up your campsite, or to offer a meal. Every morning they would barter with local fishermen to add an extra flair to the menu. On the water, I felt safe and involved in risk management. All ideas were heard until a plan formed to be implemented with everyone on board. The standard followed by Mani was professional.
Six months after this trip, the strongest memories I have are of traveling to and from the river. Once I had oars in my hand and a blue sky above me I knew who I was and how I got there.
The total trip duration from Kathmandu to Kathmandu was 10 days included the bus journey.
Dan Colorado USA.
Thank you, Mani. I look forward to our next adventure.