14 April 2012, Rafting on the Trishuli, Nepal

White Water Rafting Trishuli River Nepal

After our 6 day trek and small respite in Kathmandu, we decided to to travel to Chitwan National Park by way of an overnight river rafting on the Trishuli. We organised the Rafting and Chitwan trip through .Rajan and Earthbound Expeditions. Rajan organised for a guide to collect us from our hotel in the morning and take us to the correct bus.

The Trishuli river (meaning 'The Classic River') originates in Tibet and flows through Nepal joining the Narayani River. The launch point for our rafting is located around 4 hours west of Kathmandu. When we arrive it is at a rest stop with a long building that houses some of companies that run the tours. We are quickly broken up into tour groups, hand over our luggage to be driven downstream to where we will be camping, and gather our equipment.
The Trishuli is able to be rafted all year round and companies offer 1-3 day trips. Rafting is commonly graded as:
September - December (4)
January - May (4-)
June - August (4+)
As we were there in April, the river was a little low and I would have thought that at best it was a level 3. Although apparently in August the river can be a raging torrent of water that only the most skilful should attempt.
We are given a briefing by our guides on how to paddle, how to steer, what to do if we get into trouble, and quickly set off on the river. Our raft was loaded with our small group plus around 5 more who were joining us for the day including a young boy who was the nephew of one of the guides.
It is a generally placid flow, with some beautiful stretches of scenery to view as you drift followed by some excellent, if sparse, rapids. Our guide was excellent in informing us of what rapids were coming up and how we would approach them. Early on though he did deliberately capsize the raft giving us all a nice dip. The capsize took place on an isolated rapid and allowed us a brief swim with very little chance of harm.
For the most part the rapids were mild with a small amount of chop giving a some lift and dips, forcing us to dig our oars in hard to keep control.
We stopped off at a small village on the side of the highway for lunch and to say farewell to our temporary companions. An hour later we hit the river once more and went on our way to our camp.
A little after lunch there were a series of rapids called the Tiger that were a little more complex than the others and our guide misjudged our ability to keep control of the raft and maintain our balance with the reduced crew. As we were capsizing I realised that the specific tilt was going to throw me into Rina and as such I pushed myself off and away, going head first into the rapid. In the water I could see bright coloured life-vests fading into the river. When I attempted to surface I found myself under the raft unable to tell which direction was out. A quick breath in the air pocket, I gripped one of the ropes and pulled myself then grabbed another and pulled myself free from the raft. Once I broke surface it took a few moments to orient myself. Once I did I moved to assist Rina who was a little shaken up from the capsize and being assisted by Charlie. Further downstream, I could see our raft with the guide and Pots paddling furiously to get to a position that we could all climb back in.
Once we were settled back in the raft it was a gentle drift the remainder of the way with a stop off for some rock jumping and a shower in a fresh stream.
Our accommodations were on the side of the river in simple tents. The site was under development and we could see the foundations of will become luxury huts for future travellers. That evening we relaxed around a small fire, ate and talked. It was an excellent end to the day.
The following day was mostly a relaxing drift down the river with some small but enjoyable rapids.
At the end of our trip we pulled the raft out of the water before our guide took us up to the highway to catch the bus to Chitwan.

River Rafting the Trishuli, Nepal

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The Journey West

The flight to Kathmandu was with Dragon Air, a subsidiary of Cathay Pacific, with a stop off at Dhakar. The flight runs in a triangle of Hong Kong, Dhakar, Kathmandu andHong Kong. The flight wasn't bad but due to Bangladeshi law we were unable to leave the plane during the 2 hour stop over, and we weren't allowed to move from our seats which made it a little uncomfortable.

When we did land at Kathmandu the passengers not disembarking were told the same thing as we in Dhakar. We disembarked to a bus which took us the 100 metres to the terminal. It is a simple terminal with one large building containing Passport control and baggage collection on the lower floor. Passport control was well staffed because they did everything by hand. Outside the airport were dozens of cabbies and drivers all trying to get a passenger. Our group used the toilets outside and they were in rather bad condition and had people asking for money for the use of them.

TRAVELERS ADVICE: If you need to use a Bathroom at the airport, use the one inside Passport Control before you go through.

At 11pm we found our driver and began our way through the maze of streets into Thamel. It's almost impossible to get your bearings at night in this city. The streets are narrow and uneven and the lighting doesn't seem to show any street signs. When our bus stopped we were taken up an alley to a hotel, and it wasn't the one we were booked into.

Our driver told us the Thamel had overbooked and there wasn't enough room for us so they had organised this instead. And so we had our first lesson in Nepalese communication; it is minimal and not at all precise. We argued with the driver for a while before the owner of he hotel came out and told us the same thing. He did call the Thamel for us, and the Thamel were quite abrupt telling us there as nothing that could be done but that we would be collected by a guide in the morning and taken to the Thamel.

We accepted the situation after a time, and were taken to our rooms. The owner escorted us and I was upgraded to a suite after the air-conditioner didn't work in our room. We also had them open the bar up so that we could have a few drinks to relax after the long flight. So it was that this night we conquered Everest... Larger. In the bar we were joined by several others who had been on the same flight, were also booked into the Thamel and had been delivered here. We talked, drank and smoked into the dawn.

The following morning we ad breakfast on the roof of the hotel with a view of the crazy sprawl of Kathmandu. There is an ever present haze that limits the view of the mountains in the distance, and also blurs the city in the mid-range.

After breakfast we had the concierge of the Thamel arrive and escort us to the hotel. It was about 100 metres down the road, also at the end of short alley. The Thamel is a very nice hotel, and we settled in before exploring the district.

The streets are lined with various clothing, hiking, camera, jewellery, khoukiri knives, art and craft stores repeating ad infinitum. There are minor variations in each store and if you are looking for a bargain, there are plenty available. In the evening we meet at the hotel for orientation. There are 42 people in a room receiving our instructions from Earthbound Expeditions. Once the orientation is complete there is a meditation class followed by a laughing yoga class with a discussion on Local culture, before dining at the hotel.

The next day begins with a morning Yoga class before we break into three groups to tour the city visiting the Pashaputi, Bauda Nath Monkey Temple, and Patan Durbarsquare. We spend the night in Nagarkot, up in the hills. We have another meditation class in the evening before a buffet dinner.

Morning Yoga again to start the day then we drive into historic Bhaktapur visiting the the town squares and learning of the history of the region before returning to Kathmandu. We have another laughter Yoga class and cultural discussion. We wander the streets after class and are quite astounded to hear live music coming from a number of bars – Audioslave, Pearl Jam, Pink Floyd. Kathmandu rocks.

Morning Yoga begins another day before a very long bus ride to Pokhara where we stay overnight before heading onto our trek. Pokhara is a vastly different city to Kathmandu. It feels wealthier than elsewhere with many of the homes having complex tiled facades or beautiful paint work. The streets are also wider and cleaner, the store owners more relaxed. Pokhara is a great city. We are also treated to another class of evening meditation.

The morning begins with more Yoga and breakfast before we take the bus to Nayapul from where we begin our trek. The countryside is absolutely gorgeous on the way to Tikhedhunga.

From Tikhedhunga we take what we are told to be 3200 stone steps to Ghorepani. While the area is absolutely gorgeous, I'm pretty sure there are vastly more than 3200 steps. The start is pretty hard going and gets easier once we reach the jungle/rain forest.

We wake at 3am in Ghorepani for our 4:30am wakeup call due to the massive amount of noise made by the tea houses support staff and porters. At 5am we trek up to Poon Hill for sunrise and unfortunately I forgot to take the GPS so I don't have full data on that. The sunrise was amazing as the sun crested the Annapurna South range over Ghorepani. We descend to the tea house for breakfast before beginning our trek to Tadapani.

The trek from Tadapani is mostly down hill but starts with a hike up a hill to 3199 metres. After lunch we began our descent in earnest and part way along it starts to shower. Just before we reach the valley floor it starts to hail pea-sized spheres of ice. The hail stings as it hits our hands and we can feel the impact through our raincoats. The uphill trek to Tadapani is filled with our challenge to the gods to do better, and they do. The hail and rain comes so thick and fast hat we are walking up a river through the rocks, and the ground is littered with ice providing further traction. The walk is the most invigorating we have had on the trip and when we reach our lodgings we stay outside, further challenging the elements to do more. The Ice Storm continues through the night and the hail covers everything as though it were snow. We while away the night drinking 'real' Ukrainian vodka with two young Ukrainian trekkers and a English/American couple.

We head out that morning towards Jhinu which is mostly downhill but as with all of Nepal, there is always a bit of up. It is great walk through some amazing countryside as the jungle/rain forest gives way to forest and valley. At Jhinu we rest and talk with an American family who have been living in Cambodia and a Thai and British trekker.

The following morning we head down the hill 1.2 kilometres to the hot springs which are excellent, a perfect 25 degrees to soak the body with. After an hour we return to Jhinu, breakfast and head off to Tolka.

In Tolka we celebrate our travels together with the porters playing drums and singing, dancing and jumping around, drinking and dinner. It is a fun time by all.

From Tolka we have a steep up for a couple of hours before we go straight down to Phedi where we catch the bus to Pokhara. All up the trek was 71 kilometres over 6 days with the group ascending 4781 metres and descending 4542 metres, reaching a maximum altitude of 3210 metres above sea level. It was also just enough of a taste that I'm pretty certain I will return to Nepal for more.

In Pokhara we rest and while away the afternoon with shopping before evening meditation and a steak dinner at 'Once Upon a Time'. In the morning we take a boat ride around the lake, visiting the temple and enjoying being moved around by another's locomotion over our own. The lake while green in colour has spectacular views of the hills and mountains. You would think I'd be bored of the view by now but far from it, I relish it. Sadly, all too soon our time in the sun upon the lake is over and we have an hour or so before making our way to the airport.

The airport is an experience in itself. There is a departure tax of 200 rupee to pay before you check in, which most people wouldn't even think about before checking in and some don't. Then you have the security check whereby the X-Ray machine they use for your checked-in luggage is the same as that used for your carry-on. The departure security check is divided into male and female. You step through the metal detector with everything you are taking on the plane and are then searched. It doesn't matter who you are, you are given the pat down. In the departure lounge there is one small news-counter out of a 1940's thriller selling cans of coke for 200 rupee when they are normally 80 which just goes to show that airports are the same the world over. Our Yeti airlines flight is delayed by an hour so we just sit in the departure lounge waiting. After an hour with no update on the screen we leave the departures lounge going back through security to check on the status to find out that it is delayed until at least 3:30, maybe 4:30. So, like most Australians, we find the airport bar to wait out the delay. The bar is on the roof and the view is grand. We meet the Americans from Cambodia again and chat a while over Ghourka beer.

When our flight does depart at 3:45 it is a quick flight into Kathmandu and for the first time we all understand the scale of the city. It spreads across the valley as a network of farm towns, stretching as far as the eye can see in all directions to the mountains.

Today is Nepalese new year and in Kathmandu we have our farewell dinner of Dahl Bhat while watching some local dances while outside the city erupts into celebration. Nepal brings in the year 2069 with a roar as the heavens shatter with light, electricity arcing and dividing across the black of night with a ferocity and beauty I've only seen in film.

The following breakfast is cavalcade of farewells as we all scurry for last minute gifts and packing for flights.

For me though, this is just the end of the first leg. Today I rest for tomorrow I drive up the Trishuli to spend 2 days rafting on the river before heading into Chitwan for two more then back to Kathmandu.

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Trek Day 6 - Tolka to Phedi, Nepal

Tolka to Phedi, NepalFrom Tolka we have a steep up for an hour or so before before have the long downward path to Phedi where we are to catch the bus to Pokhara.

The way up had us once more walking into the clouds through forest. If the clouds were not present there would have been excellent views of the surrounding valleys. It was like where we walked was apart from the world, no past or future just the immediate present.

The descent was down a seemingly never ending staircase.

All up the trek was approximately 60 kilometres over 6 days with the group ascending 4781 metres and descending 4542 metres, reaching a maximum altitude of 3210 metres above sea level. It was also just enough of a taste that I'm pretty certain that I will one day return to Nepal for more.

 Tolka to Phedi, Nepal

Tolka to Phedi, NepalTolka to Phedi, Nepal

An interesting thing to note about this trip will be your boots. At the end we noticed the soles and part of the outer were covered in silver mica dust.

Tolka to Phedi, Nepal

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5


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