Nepal is a prime location for white water rafting with Karnali and Sunkosi being rated among the top 10 rivers in the world. Trisuli, Kali Gandaki, Bhote Kosi and Tamur are also famous for their white waters. Upto 15 percent of tourists who visit Nepal also take to the thrill of the rapids.
The Nepal Association of Rafting Agents (NARA) is well aware of the potential that Nepal has for white water rafting, and is trying to promote this sport both nationally and internationally. Since 2002, NARA in association with Peak UK have been organising the Himalayan Challenge down the Bhote Kosi river.
This year, the competition is to be held from the 13-15 November with both kayak and rafting races along a stretch of the Bhote Kosi from near the Chinese border down to Dolalghat.
In the kayak races, there are three events: kayak free style, kayak slalom, and kayak downriver races. In the rafting department, there is only one event called the raft downriver race.
NARA hopes to promote rafting tourism in Nepal through the tournament and get international coverage of some of the finest white waters in the world. It also hopes its Nepali rafting crew gets exposure to international-level training and competition so Nepal can compete in international kayak and raft competitions.
NARA's slogan is 'Nepal is your white water destination' and in a bid to promote white water rafting, it also organises the Trisuli river festival every year on the last Saturday of May. This event aims at promoting rafting among local tourists and has more of a picnic air.
This year, NARA plans to host at least 300 participants. Some 50 Nepalis and 75 foreigners have already registered. Participation fee is Rs 1,000 for Nepalis and $50 for foreigners. Those who want to watch the event can do so. There is a package deal for $25 with transportation, food, accommodation and thrill are taken care of. The event is only for professional rafters and kayakers with a minimum requirement of having rafted in at least Grade Five rapids.
NARA General Secretary Nani Kaji Thapa tells us, "The number of participants are increasing every year, and their skill levels are also improving." Although international publicity of the maoist conflict has affected rafting, it is not expected to deter the true raft and kayak aficionados this year.
But aren't people getting bored with Bhote Kosi every year? Thapa replies: "Yes, next year we plan to change the river."
Himalayan Challenge Bhote Kosi
Contact: Nepal Association
of Rafting Agents