RaftingChallenging, Hard, Moderate

The Karnali River Whitewater Rafting trips 2024

Based on 5 Reviews
US$ 1450 $1650

The Karnali River Expedition

 “Nepal’s longest, largest, and Wilderness and Pristine River in western Nepal.”

Navigate Outdoor organize and run private and commercial rafting expeditions on some of the best rivers in Nepalese Himalayan and in the world. Karnali River is one of our most beautiful and preferred rivers for big water rafting and camping in Nepal Karnali River is known as Jewels of Himalayan and started from Tibet and drains into the Gangentic basin of India.

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 lives up to that name – the area that it flows through is wild and relatively unpopulated with some of the most pristine jungles, wildlife, and the best scenery in Nepal.

The Karnali River’s rapids are challenging & fun class III – IV+ pools and drops, 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 the side stream river put-in the valley narrows into a series of canyons, the Karnali river speeds up, and there are big rapids, one leading into another, almost continuously down to the Seti River confluence. From the elbow down the West-Seti River, the gradient is 3 meters per kilometer (15ft per mile), but after here the gradient eases, as the river winds through some of the magnificent un-spoilt scenery, eventually emerging onto the plains and flows 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 more challenging fun 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 it a river that is best run at low/medium flows, In high water Karnali  River gets more challenging to navigate a few rapids especially in the gorge section. The highest extreme instantaneous discharge measured at Chisapani the local town take-out was an incredible 21700cumecs (760000CFS)

The western part of Nepal Karnali Province is the most beautiful remote and untouched area in Nepal, the real life, culture, and tradition are incredibly amazing fascinating, and interesting in the world. People are still living a nomadic life in the area, living in a joint family system, Raute people make wooden craft baskets, pots, and many other stuff and exchange them in the nearby village with grain and nowadays sell into the bigger market to Surkhet. In the western part of Nepal people are relatively poor and closer to the Indian border,  many people travel to the nearest town of India to seek jobs and opportunities for financial support for their families mostly youth from 14-35 years old people. Navigate Outdoor is trying its best to bring more people to the area and support small local businesses and products by buying food for our clients.

The Bheri River is suitable for families’ vacation holidays fishing and rafting it’s in the Karnali province. Our goal is to create some opportunities for those far from Nepal’s youth in rafting adventure tourism and support local tourism.

We organize rafting expeditions all over the Himalayan Tamor River Expedition, and Sunkosi River both Rivers are very popular for multi-day expeditions in Nepal.

 Trip Summary:

Starting point: Lohore Khola                                              Difficulty: Challenging (Grade III –  IV+ )

Ending point: Chisapani                                                       Best season: Oct to Dec & April – May

Distance: 190km.                                                                    Rafting days: 7 days

Accommodation: tented camping                                       Trip cost:  $1450  – $1950

(two-person tent north face)                                                 River rating: 5 Star

Trip start and end Kathmandu

  • Destination:Nepal
  • Trip Grade:Challenging, Hard, Moderate
  • Total Duration:9-12 days
  • Best Time:April - May & Oct- Nov

Outline Itinerary

  • Day 01: Arrive in Kathmandu Trenasfer to Hotel
  • Day 02: Sightseeing in Kathmandu, and prep day.
  • Day 03: Fly to Nepalgunj/Shurkhet and drive to put-in.
  • Day 04: Raft 4-5 hours, our River journey starts.
  • Day 05: Raft 4-5 hours, beautiful River section, cultural interaction.
  • Day 06: Lay over, explore locals village.
  • Day 07: Raft 5-6 hours on the gorge section and camp.
  • Day 08: Raft 4-5 hours and camp.
  • Day 09: Raft 4-5 hours and camp.
  • Day 10: Raft 2 -3 hours and take-out, fly to Kathmandu.
  • Day 11: Extra day in Ktahmandu, visit local market.
  • Day 12: Fly back to your home.

Trip itinerary.

Detail Itinerary

Day 01: Arrive in Kathmandu Trenasfer to Hotel
Navigate Outdoor’s trip leader who will meet you at the airport and transfer to a hotel in Kathmandu. On 1st day you’ll be catching some sleep rest and in the evening going out for dinner and exploring the fascinating Thamel tourist town.
Day 02: Sightseeing in Kathmandu, and prep day.
Breakfast can be taken at the same hotel that includes stunning views of the Himalayan. Today we’re going to explore this incredible Kathmandu city, a world heritage site. Whether you decide to visit some of the world heritage fascinating temples and stupas, take an early morning trip starting from Monkey Temple, check out the Sadhus and Pashupatinath temple architects, and do some local market, or just sit on the roof of one of the many restaurants for coffee, Kathmandu will treat you well and brings you smile and happiness in your face. In the evening your trip leader will brief you all on a pre-departure and pass all the necessary orientation of the expedition regarding the river journey, equipment, logistics, and environment for the trip.
Day 03: Fly to Nepalgunj/Shurkhet and drive to put-in.
After breakfast, we board our flight early morning to Surkhet, in the wild west of Nepal. From Surkhet will be traveling another 4 -5 hrs bus journey to the start of our river expedition. By late afternoon we will start to prep rigged and ready to set off for the short trip downstream to our evening camp. If we’re late and have no time for a rigged raft we camp at the starting point.
Day 04: Raft 4-5 hours, our River journey starts.
Today we see a gradual introduction of whitewater class II – III as we take to the river for about 4 -5 hours. We’d like to pause for lunch at the beautiful waterfall, sandy beach, or the village giving us the chance to interact with locals and take some fabulous photo opportunities. After Lunch, we get to try out our teamwork on some fun rapids before we run our first major rapids on the trip, “Cotton Pony” which leads us to our evening campsite.
Day 05: Raft 4-5 hours, beautiful River section, cultural interaction.
After breakfast, we have a fantastic day of the whitewater to look forward to starting with some unnamed class III fun rapids Sweetness And “Humans for lunch” En route, we stop at Jungleghat, a fairly major village en route is a very old settlement people cross a suspension bridge to Achham, we’ll test some famous local cup of tea interact with local about 20-30min. Shortly after 10 minutes downstream from the village are the rapids “Jailhouse Rock” & “Inversion” We relax for lunch at the waterfall and float another hour to our overnight stay called Scorpion Beach where we enter a beautifully forested canyon and cascading waterfalls
Day 06: Lay over, explore locals village.
Layover day, depending on your decision and interest today we can stay at the camp play volleyball, do yoga meditation, read books, learn kayak, or hike up to the local village. There are many opportunities to learn about local people’s daily lives and culture.
Day 07: Raft 5-6 hours on the gorge section and camp.
After we have been suitably rested and refueled we head downriver to take on the biggest whitewater of the expedition/trip. “Godshouse” is our 1st land scout rapid for the day and great fun. We continue downstream to enjoy the towering waves of “Juicer” and “Flip ‘n Strip” before stopping for lunch. After the Lunch break, the rapids keep on coming thick and fast, in the form of “Snapshot”,“Freight Train” and the other rapids before we hit some calmer water further downstream. One of the best whitewater days on the Karnali River trip.
Day 08: Raft 4-5 hours and camp.
The whitewater action of the previous few days gives rise to some calmer water and the chance to relax and sunbathe etc. This section of the River is a very beautiful and scenic landscape; we will pass through villages see their lifestyle and many more interesting things on the river journey. You can try out some kayaking and learn raft rowing/paddle guiding/learning hydrology.  
Day 09: Raft 4-5 hours and camp.
Another day where we gently float at the river speed while fishermen show off their catch and summon us to come and buy as we drift on past. Local Fishermen catching and selling fish are their daily income and tradition. Dugout canoes ferry passengers across the river and young children swim out to our raft with the prospect of a ride further downstream. Today will pass through some of the beautiful landscape forests and many small villages, there are always chances to learn about the local life and traditions. This is our last night on the river camping, we always provide tents, but if you’re interested in sleeping out under start that’s always possible too.
Day 10: Raft 2 -3 hours and take-out, fly to Kathmandu.
We’ll have early breakfast as we watch the sunrise over the hills. Chisapani marks the end of our journey. In this section especially last day of early float we may be lucky to encounter Gangetic Dolphin and other wildlife. After lunch at the local Restaurant at Chisapani, we drive about 2 hours to Nepalgunj for our return flight to Kathmandu. You’ll be transferred to your hotel where you can grab a shower before we go out for our post-trip meal and share our feedback and experiences of the trip
Day 11: Extra day in Ktahmandu, visit local market.
One day's rest in Kathmandu allows you to smoothly journey back to your home the next day. Kathmandu is a vibrant city where you can buy some beautiful gifts and souvenirs for your home or loved one.  Visiting Asan is a great way to see local's daily shopping and grocery traditions. Thamel is a great place to explore for dinner or you can try authentic Nepalese cuisine nearby.
Day 12: Fly back to your home.
We will arrange your transport to the airport 3 hours before your flight departure time. Please check with our staff the night before and get ready for your journey back home.

Cost Includes

Service Including:

  • 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.

Cost Excludes

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.
    Landing in Nepal’s only International airport Kathmandu walk two minutes to immigration get ready for your online  visa application, having Passport, Passport size picture, change US Dollar saves your time in visa processing in the immigration. A long flight journey arriving in Nepal, keeping low expectations some delay in the baggage handling and a long line make your journey a little bit curious  want to get out of the crowd, and have a good rest in the hotel. While you walking outside of immigration, baggage claim don’t forget to buy (Nepal Telecom & Ncell) prepaid Sim card  takes a few minutes to sign approve, it makes your tour & travel vacation easier and stress free. Kathmandu valley is very small mountain valley surrounded by mountains, have interesting history, culture, diverse human culture in small area. Prepaid taxi makes your life easier no need to deal with taxi driver at the arrival, provide your information where you staying how many people are sharing transport they’ll easily accommodate your interest.       Booking Luxurious Hotel, Budge Hotels, and guesthouses you can book online or ask your agency they will book and simply add in your tour budget. Popular tourist destination is Thamel, you can get all the above accommodation options, world’s test, and fun evening walk, check local handicraft shops, small local restaurant and Nepalese cuisine. Kathmandu is worth to spend 2-3 days historic sites tour vacation would gives you glimpse of Nepalese culture, tradition and diversify of people. Bhaktapur is smallest district in Nepal with many beautiful historic places in the planet, Bhaktapur Durbar Square area, Changu Narayan, Nagarkot mountain view point short hike to Changu Narayan Temple. Staying overnight at Bhaktapur Durbar Square area great way to see night life of local people peace and Boddhanath Temple, Soyambhunath temple, Baantapur Durbar Square, Patna Durbar Square, and Pashupatinath temple all of them are UNESCO heritage sites, you can easily spent day or two even more time to check and take piture and learn Nepali culture and tradition with local guide at the sites. You can easily arrange tour guide from your hotel, and travel agency, worth to have a licensed tour leader with agency cost around $35 - $50 per day.       After your few days tour vacation, day hiking in Kathmandu valley your journey makes a lot easier to travel other part of Nepal. Your budget and time available there are many different adventure activities can do around Kathmandu, hiking Shivpuri National Forest a minute away from your hotel, climber can easily spent a few days climb limestone natural, bolted rock climbing, and indoor climbing in Thamel Kathmandu. For rafter, water adventure lover you can easily do day whitewater rafting two hours away from Kathmandu and enjoy the Himalayan Rivers and local outfit. There are many options in the close by extreme adventure, luxurious overnight stay in the resort, cultural tour and journey in Kathmandu. Nepal’s is most popular destination for trekking, mountain climbing along with whitewater expedition, cultural city tour and world heritage sightseeing. Have a great tour vacation and adventure journey in Nepal. Chura Mani Aryal www.navigateoutdoor.com

Sam & Jenn Nicholson Montana USA

Mani; Clearly you are chosen & Choose across the globe to make a lasting impact on our children. Your strength, calmness, guidance/wisdom, and patience are so evident. We will forever be grateful for the effort + Impact that you have made on our son. Thank you from our bottom of our hearts for this. It’s unbelievable. Peace & love to you forever. Sam & Jenn Nicholson Montana USA 2018.

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.

Ajay Rastogi

Majkhali India

Ajay Rastogi,Majhkhali India

"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

Nick Green,Australia


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

Mal & Dane,Australia

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.

Daniel Ives

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