RaftingModerate, Challenging, Hard

Karnali River Expedition

Based on 5 Reviews

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)

 Trip summary:

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

  • Destination:Nepal
  • 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.

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.

Cost and Dates

Trip Start DateTrip End DatePriceAvailabilityBook
25th November, 20194th December, 2019US$1499Available Book Now
20th April, 202029th April, 2020US$1450Available Book Now
4th May, 202013th May, 2020US$1450Available Book Now
5th October, 202014th October, 2020US$1650Available Book Now
12th October, 202021st October, 2020US$1650Available Book Now
9th November, 202018th November, 2020US$1650Available 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.


Essential Gear

  • 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

07.30 breakfasts

08.30 pack-up and load rafts

09.30 start rafting

12.00 lunches

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.


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 & Grey 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 fisherman to add extra flair to the menu. On the water, I felt safe and involved in the 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 bus journey.

Thank you, Mani. I look forward to our next adventure.

Daniel Ives

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