Packrafting Nepal: The Indrawati, Balephi Khola and Upper Sun Kosi

Another “what I did on my holiday” entry, I’m afraid. I went with on a four day pack rafting ‘proof of concept’ trip over Easter.

Day 1: We took the bus to the edge of the Kathmandu valley then hiked with the boats and full camping gear on our backs to Sipaghat on the Indrawati river. I was a bit under the weather, needed a paracetamol when I arrived, and had to deal with some local kids who insisted that water is pronounced ‘watter’ and that I was actually an American.

Day 2: We inflated the rafts, strapped the packs to the front and set off.  My guidebook (“White Water Nepal” by Peter Knowles) says this is an easy grade 2 river and an ideal first run for a beginner.  Which is pretty much what Dinesh and I are.  The river was great fun, small bouncy rapids and a nice current, but very shallow.  Even though the rafts only need perhaps 20cm of water, we had to get out an walk over some shallows a few times.  But not enough to spoil the fun.  The valley was wide but attractive, with fishermen lining the banks and children playing in the watter along its entire length.  A great beginners run like this built up Dinesh’s confidence no end, so much so that when we reached Dolalghat, the take out, we elected to ride the roof of the bus up the Balephi Khola valley to the old market town of Jalbire.  On the way up, as the light began to fail, we gazed down on the rock strewn river and wondered whether we had perhaps bitten off more than we could chew.

Day 3: Dinesh fell in.  And lost his glasses.  (He now in my opinion has a much more stylish pair, so silver lining there I guess.)  The first rapid on the Balephi Khola was a rock infested monster.  I made it through, but did hit a rock and only through some pretty deep and hard paddling did I keep the raft upright.  On the other side of the rapid I immediately pulled into an eddy and got out, trying to see if I could tell Dinesh not to run it.  But with his mojo high, Dinesh had already started his descent.  The Balephi claimed his mojo.  No harm done otherwise, a grazed knee apart.  With a look of defeat on our faces we packed together and headed back into town.  The last bus back down the valley had left.  So we hired a truck for 2500 rupees. The whole truck, empty, with a driver.  We reinflated the boats at Balephi, the confluence with the Sun Kosi river, and ran a mile or so down stream before setting up camp for the night.  There was a restaurant on the hill opposite, so I crossed the river to go and procure a couple of cold brews for the evening.  While on my mission the wind picked up, and blew my raft into the water.  A local fisherman – just a kid – jumped in and pulled it back to shore.  We bought a fish off him at a highly inflated price to say thanks.

Day 4: Coffee, breakfast.  A big rapid.  We paddled down to Sukute and took the bus home.

hope you like the video!

8 Responses to “Packrafting Nepal: The Indrawati, Balephi Khola and Upper Sun Kosi”
  1. Raft says:

    Brilliant video! Thanks for sharing.
    Jeremy sent me the link to your blog and put across the idea to come up and packraft there with you guys. Possibly two from here can come with packrafts and gear. How does that sound? Window of time is about in 3 weeks from now.

    • Zorba, thanks for the thumbs up! I just did the upper sun kosi (also known as lower bhote kosi) today. Water is big and brown after the rain we’ve had here, it was seriously hairy! I would rate this a 3+ at least just because of the size of the holes, the power of the waves and the speed of the water. Maybe a 4, at least in packraft terms. In 3 weeks we’ll probably be in full monsoon, and I can assure you it won’t get any easier. I’m not sure I am ready for monsoon paddling, that is going to be a serious blast for the pro, but I am by no means a pro. Thought I might wait for the autumn before hitting the rapids again. If you want to join me then, brilliant! Pete

      • camosk says:

        Hello Peter,
        I watched video and read a blog article , it looks adventurous and quite amazing. Thanks for sharing and for exploring possibilities of packrafting in the rivers of Nepal. I am kind of planning such trip in small rivers in western Nepal,my hometown. Where can I get gears for packrafting in Nepal, should I buy them or they are available in rent ? I would be thankful with your information.

      • hi bibek – i am not aware of anyone renting out packrafts in nepal, although i think it would be a great idea! you can import them at great expense from the USA. otherwise you can look at cheaper options, depending on the grade of river you want to float. a makeshift raft made or even inner tubes (like the kids use!) could give you some fun on easy rivers, although you would get seriously wet. cheaper but heavier and less durable inflatable boats are, i guess, available on the local market… whatever you do have fun and stay safe, and thanks for checking out the blog. pete

  2. Dinesh Wagle says:

    Reblogged this on Wagle Street Journal and commented:
    मेरो लामो जलयात्रा विवरण पढेको भए पिटरको साइटमा राखिएको यो भिडियो पनि हेर्न सिफारिस गर्छु ।

  3. Ed Horncastle says:

    Hi Pete,
    Was researching the Balephi Khola and arrived here! The river looks good. I think it will be low so not up to grade 4 level. Probably just 3. Getting excited!

Check out what others are saying...

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: