Named after Goddess Kali, the Kali Gandaki rises in Mustang, an enclave of Nepal on the Northern side of the Himalayas. As it tumbles down between the Dhaulagiri and the Annapurna ranges, it creates one of the world`s deepest river canyons.
Once an ancient trading route to Tibet, it is now a popular trekking trail. The Kali Gandaki is a terrific medium length river journey, combining great whitewater with some of the prettiest scenery in Nepal, seldom-visited villages, and truly quiet and introspective evenings. Both experienced and novice rafters will love it. The rapids on the Kali Gandaki are much more technical and continuous than on the Trishuli (Class III – IV depending on the flow) and in extremely high water, it is not a place to be unless you are an accomplished kayaker and have experience in avoiding big holes. At medium and low flow, it is a fun and challenging river with rapids keeping you busy on all but one day. Being one of the holiest rivers in Nepal, every river junction on the Kali Gandaki is dotted with cremation sites and above ground burial mounds. If you’ve been wondering what’s under that pile of rocks, we recommend you against exploring it.
Please note that there will be a pre-departure meeting at our office in Pokhara at 6 p.m., a day before the departure. This is the chance to get the group together over a drink and discuss about the Kali Gandaki expedition. During the meeting, you will get a chance to meet some of the guides and we can answer any final queries that you may have, give out personal gear bags and collect money for beer kitty. Afterwards, we all will probably wander to a nearby restaurant for a relaxed meal.
Your river trip begins and ends in Pokhara. If you need to get to Pokhara from Kathmandu, there are a few options depending on your budget and time schedule. All the options are relatively easy to arrange and if you want, we can book one for you. A tourist mini-bus costs about 400 NRS (US$ 7) as opposed to 100 NRS for a local bus. We feel that the minor difference in price for the tourist mini-bus is well worth it. It leaves at 7a.m. from Kantipath and takes approximately 7hours to get to Pokhara. In addition, there are regular flights from Kathmandu to Pokhara that cost US$ 91 each way and takes about 30 minutes. Accommodation in Pokhara is more readily available and is cheaper than Kathmandu. We will gladly assist you in arranging accommodation depending upon your taste and budget.
Day 1-2: From Pokhara, we take a chartered bus out of town and up through the foothills of the Annapurna Mountain. The view from the bus is fantastic. The road winds and twists through the mountains as we work our way to the town of Baglung, the nearest point of civilization from where we begin our river journey. The private bus ride takes about 3-4 hours. Once at the river, the guides inflate the rafts, prepare lunch and give a safety talk. The guides then tie all the equipments into the rafts, which is quite a site to witness. More than a decade of running rivers has taught us a lot, not the least of which is how to tie a load so it stays put no matter what. After lunch, we push off into the current leaving the road behind for the next 3 days.
A raft trip down the Kali Gandhi isn`t just a vacation, it is an education. Our river guides spend the first part of the afternoon explaining the finer points of how to paddle through whitewater and stay in the raft as it bucks and contorts through the rapids. For those who missed a point in the previous briefing, there is a lesson on how to swim through whitewater using the flotation device and paddle to keep your head up and your feet to push off the rocks. The guides will also teach you what they are looking for when they run the river-the innocuous looking rise in the water that hides a hole or the way you can use the pillow of water rebounding off a rock to push the raft where you want it. Whitewater rafts are amazingly versatile and stable crafts and in the care of an expert raft guide, it is possible to run exhilarating lines safely and confidently. Your guide is a professional person who has devoted his/her life to learning and running Whitewater Rivers. Under his/ her careful indoctrination, the raft crew learns how to work as a team, practicing on the small rapids that are encountered on the first kilometer of the river. Team work is what makes it possible to run any river safely and this extends beyond your raft. All the raft and safety kayakers work as a team, communicating with and supporting each other – it`s impressive to watch. You are never in a rapid alone. By the time we get to the harder rapids with names like: Wake & Bake and Cobra, the crew will be working together with exquisite timing and precision. Just after running Little Brother and Big Brother, the Modi Khola tumbles down from the Annapurna Base Camp into the Kali Gandaki. At the right level, any expert kayaker can consider paddling this tributary and meet up with the group at the first night’s camp.
Below the Modi, the river swings south through an area where tourists are almost unknown and our journey begins in earnest. Your education doesn`t stop with rafting either. Being Kali`s river (Hindu goddess of Destruction), the Kali Gandaki is one of the holiest river in Nepal. All along the river are sacred cremation beaches where the Nepalese bring the dead bodies for burning, performing rituals and prayers as they send the deceased into the next life.
The Kali Gandaki offers some of the finest scenery in Nepal and on a clear day, the Annapurna Mountain hangs over the river valley. Peaks with names like Annapurna South and Machhapuchhare dwarf our expedition as we descend into one of the deepest river gorges on Earth. From the moment we put-in, it is 3 days before another road crosses the river. It’s all up to us from here on out.
Nowhere else is it possible to find such diversity on a 3 days raft trip. The rapids are fun and demanding but they are only a small part of the rafting experience. Wildlife, wonderful sandy beaches, sacred temples devoted to Kali, picturesque villages and outrageous waterfalls all combine to make the Kali Gandaki a fantastic river journey.
Day 3: The last day gives us the biggest rapids of the whole trip and thus, finishes with a bang. In addition to being the biggest, the rapids are also the cleanest and we can use the skills we`ve developed over the last two days to run tighter, more challenging lines. Who knows, we might even get to swim.
All meals, transportation to the put-in point and back from the take-out point, all rafting gears and accommodation on a twin sharing basis.
Sleeping bags/ mattresses, alcoholic beverages, personal expenses and insurance, emergency evacuation, specific medication, phone calls, pocket money etc...
Ultimate Descents Nepal`s staff are expert kayakers and instructors and they are always willing to share their enthusiasm and expertise. We encourage kayakers to join any of our trips. There is always an expert safety kayaker along with any expedition so you don't need to worry about being alone out there. In fact, we often have three or more kayakers on the water. This is a great river for intermediate to advanced kayakers. Most rapids are pool-drop and there are surfing waves almost all the way down the river. You can spend a lot more time just enjoying yourself with the rafts taking all your gears and food. You’ve just got to make sure that it doesn`t look like too much fun, as some of the rafters may want to try it. We have high quality kayaks so please give us the details of what kayak and equipment you would like to use and we will put it aside for you.
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