Nestled between Tibet and India, you’ll find the narrow country of Nepal. What it lacks in size and greatness it makes up for in notoriety. Once one of the most influential and wealthy countries in Asia, Nepal is now known as the adventure country of the world. A country where adventurers come to push their limits, test their endurance and to conquer, well, something! Nepal may be a 3rd world country, but it offers 1st class adventure.
It may be known around the world for its mighty mountains. But mighty mountains means raging rivers and for those that like white-water, Nepal offers the best expedition trips in the world and some of the craziest white-water. It may be hard to get the mountains out of your mind, but at the end of this article we will have you reaching for your paddle and deep into your pockets, for Nepal is a country that calls to all kinds of adventurers.
What to expect arriving into Nepal?
Beat the queues, buy before you arrive. What I mean is, get your visa before you touchdown in Nepal. While it’s great that most of us will be able to get visas on arrival, it’s no fun to stand a queue that doesn’t move after a long flight whilst watching those who pre-purchased visas sail through. Standard airport security is in place for when you arrive as well as when you take off, but security landing into the country is a lot more relaxed than for those leaving and definitely not as high tech as ‘western’ airports. You’re pretty much waved through and you get to keep your shoes on too. Visa and security may be a breeze but waiting for the bags will kick anxiety into the most chilled of us, so to help that expect 45mins – 1hr for your bag to arrive and remember you’re now running on ‘Nepali Time’.
From the laid back baggage claim to the impatience of pick up, welcome to the most chaotic part of Nepal, airport arrivals. The taxi drivers have a barrier between you and them so you no longer have to feel too intimidated on arrival, people can’t entice you into their taxi that easily anymore. If you’ve booked somewhere, you’re hotel will usually have airport pick up, look for them across the road. The people with the signs, you can’t miss them, are all collections. Need a taxi? Well then look to your right as you come out or ask the guard. Nowhere to stay yet? Well head for Thamel, more often than not your taxi driver will have a friend with a guesthouse in the area anyway and if you don’t like it, then get out and wander. There are plenty of hostels, guesthouses and hotels to choose from.
Thamel is the ‘tourist town’ of Kathmandu. Filled with guesthouses, bars, street sellers and knock off adventure gear this is where those who want come to conquer Everest, ride the crazy rapids and get into the wilds stay before the journey really begins. Get any last minute gear you forgot here, rest up and explore because once you leave Thamel, the real Nepal begins.
I’m here, but where are the Rivers?
With over 6000 rivers you’d think for such a small country the rivers would be a small ride from you’re hotel. Where epic rivers come there are even more epic mountains. This combination means the rivers are hidden in a maze of mountains and so getting to rivers requires some keen determination. But that’s part of the draw, the adventure and the thrill! The best way to get on the rivers is to book with guides who know the rivers before you arrive into Nepal. Working seasonally, the best time of year is autumn (October/November) and gets booked up fast! So it pays to have plans before you leave! Expect early pick up from your accommodation in a bus filled with rafting gear. If you’ll be dropped back at the same accommodation you can often just leave your bags with them and bring only what you’ll need on the river, with room for some beers. Your bag will be kept dry and safe on the pack raft that will follow behind carrying all the gear to set up epic campsites in even more epic places! Did you know that there are only two rivers with set ‘rafting camps’? The rest are wild camping, so find a beach, collect firewood and pitch a tent.
Getting to the rivers expect a few hours minimum journey time all the way to a few days depending on how wild, rural and raw you want your adventure to be. But the journey is part of the adventure! With some of the best views in the world going on outside your window, you won’t be bored! The rafting itself can last from half a day to weeks depending on the adventure you’re looking for. Nepal offers adventure white-water to all thrill levels. So going with a company that knows where there going and what river is best for you will give you more time to spend on the river instead of searching for it!